Monday, December 17, 2018
Updated: Thursday, March 31, 2005
The last bowling spot for the England tour

Shameran Abed

Most of us had assumed that the BCB would follow the current practice of touring parties to pick two different sides for a tour, one for the Test series and one for the ODI series, with the necessary players being exchanged when one part of the tour is over and the oher is about to commence. However, it appears that the BCB will pick just one squad for the England tour that will play in the Tests and the ODIs against England and Australia.

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If two squads were to be picked, team selection would have been a relatively easy matter. Out of the 20 in the preliminary squad, Monir, Raj, Tushar and Mahmud would have missed out for the Test series, but Tushar and Mahmud would then join up with the team for the ODI series while Javed Omar, Shahadat Hussain and Talha Jubair would be going home. It would have made sense, given that there is no point taking Golla, Rajib and Talha around with the team for the ODIs when they have almost no chance of being in a playing XI. Would have cost the BCB two extra tickets to fly Mahmud and Tushar in midway, but I don't think the BCB is wanting for funds.

Anyway, since it does seem like there will be one squad of 16, who among the bowlers should they take and who has to miss out? Out of the squad of 16, there will be 7 specialist batsmen, the six that played in the Tests against Zimbabwe and one out of Shahriar Nafees and Tushar Imran. Also, Rafique, Enamul Jnr, Rana and Khaled Mashud are certainties for the tour. Thats 11 players. That leaves room for five pacers in the squad.

Mashrafe and Taposh will board the plane for England. I believe Shahadat Hussain Rajib has a very good chance as well. He is young, tall and fast, played in England last year and impressed on the recent tour of Zimbabwe with Bangladesh A. If now isn't the time to reward him with a Test tour, I don't know when is! I would pick him as the third pacer. That leaves Talha Jubair, Nazmul Hussain and Khaled Mahmud for the two remaining spots. It would be Talha and Nazmul for the Test squad, and Mahmud and Nazmul for the ODI squad, so which two to take in a combined squad?

Since Nazmul features in both my Test squad and my ODI squad, it would appear that he should make it into the combined squad. However, it is not that cut and dry. If Mashrafe or Taposh were to get injured, or if Rajib was all over the place in the warm up games, Nazmul would not be an automatic pick for me to replace one of them in the Tests. He would have to fight it out with Talha. This may surprise a few people but it shouldn't.

Talha is taller and quicker and these aren't bad attributes to have for a pace bowler. Nazmul is shorter and not as rapid, but he does consistently slant the ball into the right-hander, which would take it away from the left handers at the top of the English batting order. Again, a very good skill to have for England. On the down side, Nazmul has been lacking in match practice. He played only one match in the Duleep Trophy and bowled just nine overs for no wickets. In the NCL, he has played just two matches including the current 7th round match against Dhaka. He has so far picked up 3 wickets.

Talha missing out for ODIs?

Talha on the other hand has been picking up wickets quite regularly. He took 5 wickets in the Duleep Trophy, not an overly successful tour but not too bad either given that the team as a whole played poorly. In the NCL he has taken 11 wickets so far including the current 7th round match, which is his fourth! What has impressed me most has been the fact that 8 out of his 11 wickets have been against top order batsmen and both in the NCL and in the Duleep Trophy, he had quite a few batsmen out LBW and caught behind. The reason I like Talha is because he consistently pitches the ball up and makes the batsmen play, something that hasn't and won't serve him well on sub-continental pitches where the batsmen can come on to the front foot and play him on length. However, making the batsmen play at deliveries will be the thing to do in England if our pacers want to pick up wickets.

As for the ODI team, there is a good chance that both Nazmul and Mahmud will play a role. Even though some will argue that Aftab will do what Mahmud has been doing in the ODI squad, I think Mahmud should still go, given though that he is in very good form and is likely to be effective, atleast with the ball in England.

So, it seems like Talha will have to miss out in favour of Nazmul and Mahmud. Both have the advantage that they will almost certainly play in the ODI team at some point during the Natwest Trophy. Also, in the end, Nazmul is a safer pick than Talha for the test matches as well, even though he lacks match practice and Talha has been taking wickets quite regularly. This is because with Nazmul, you know that even if he doesn't end up firing on all cylinders, he can probably still get away with bowling a decent few spells, whereas with Talha, you run the risk of things going badly wrong for him when he gets hit out of the park. Since we are likely to take a calculated gamble with Rajib in the squad, it makes more sense to go with the steady Nazmul rather than the unpredictable Talha!

So, the bowlers I would pick for the tour of England are: Mohammed Rafique, Enamul Huque, Monjurul Islam, Mashrafe Murtoza, Tapash Baisya, Shahadat Hussain, Nazmul Hussain and Khaled Mahmud.

When Shameran Abed scored his first (and last) half century at the Nirman Championships, those fortunate enough to watch him bat were soon locked in debate about whether he was a future Lara or a future Tendulkar. Sadly, for all his talent and early promise, he was never able to repeat his feat and was duly dumped from his school side, prompting him to take up coaching the girls squad! This largely explains his crusade on the BanglaCricket forum against all talentless performers, and his love for all talented underachiervers, a bunch with whom he can identify. He goes by the nick "Sham" and although he was given the honorary title of BanglaCricket Adviser, most of his advice is usually laughed at and then deleted so as not to waste space on our limited server! - Editors.