Tuesday, March 26, 2019
Updated: Monday, December 13, 2004
Batting Shortcomings: The Hannan conundrum

Imtiaz Kabir

In the past two years, Bangladesh have played a number of test teams. We felt better after playing the Australians, more so after the Pakistanis. Against England we gave a good game for four days in the first test. In Zimbabwe we won an ODI and came close to winning another one [and the series]. In the West Indies we gave a good display in the ODI's and in the first test. However, against New Zealand and in the first test against India, the batting, particularly, has been terrible!

The main reason has been our complete inability to face left arm in-swing. This has been demonstrated time and again. Starting with Chaminda Vaas in the World Cup, to Pedro Collins [ both in the West Indies as well as in Bangladesh ], to Franklin for New Zealand and, now, memorably, Irfan Pathan. Pathan is good but, not yet, a Wasim Akram. I cannot imagine what a Wasim Akram of the early nineties would have done to this team.

If anyone cares to notice, in all the series mentioned above where we gave a good account of ourselves [ even though we lost ] , our opponents did not have a left arm fast or medium fast bowler. Australia had McGrath, Gillespie, Lee and Macgill but no lefties. We scored 290/8 after the opening day. Pakistanis has Shoaib, Shabbir, Umar Gul etc. but no left armers either. Neither did the Zimbabweans or for that matter, the South Africans earlier. The West Indians did have Collins but the rest were too wild and inaccurate like Tino Best.

Bashar pulls yet again

Bashar pulls yet again

To this main point has to be added a bit of sheer you know what. I am, of course, referring to our Captain Have-a-Bash. Not since Hilditch fell for Botham's three card trick, have I seen such mindless play being displayed on a cricket field. What is the matter with this man! What is he trying to prove? That he is a real man who is not scared of bouncers?

It is self evident that if we do not fall for this left arm in-swing, we cannot score 200 plus. I am not sure what Dav has been doing about this. It is now clear that this is not just a Hannan Sarkar problem. It goes far deeper than that. It exposes a fatal lack of technique against the moving ball.

The usual remedy against left arm in-swing is to bat on the front foot - hence, you nullify the late swing. Alternatively, you bat a couple of feet in front of the crease. Of course, the batsman will be vulnerable to short pitch bowling but you can always duck. And if the bowler starts bowling short, the batsman has already won the tactical battle as the bowler's most effective weapon, the in-swing, has been taken cared of. That is an option that has to be tried temporarily. I know it is not easy to face 85 mph bowling but what is the alternative, then?

Of course, good batsmen simply adjust their reflexes. That's why you don't see these bowlers tormenting every other test team.

There is another remedy - the batting order. Pathan would not have been so consistently dangerous against a left hander. I am no a great fan of Manjural Islam Rana as a test batsman despite his fifty! But he is the best we have got playing in test matches. Why not send him earlier? Even as an opener. Rafique should open in ODI's anyway on account of the 15 over rule. Are there other left handed batsmen in the country? Please do not mention Faisal Hossain!

The author is a distinguished member of banglacricket forum and goes by the nick "Imtiaz" - editors