Monday, June 01, 2020
Updated: Tuesday, May 17, 2005
Tour matches: More than a warmup

James Stedman

The key to any great team is depth. This has been proven in every sport and the Australian cricket team is the best example. With a team like that, players are always motivated to give their best knowing that someone else could easily take up the place should they fail. Bangladesh is finally starting to enjoy the emergence of depth to its cricketing ranks and performances in the tour matches will potentially determine the final playing eleven.

Shahriah Nafees will be desperate to make an impact before the Lord's Test and pressure the rest of the batting order to perform. Javed Omar was under pressure before the game at Cambridge and with Shahriah Nafees knocking on the door he chalked up his highest first-class score. At the moment Aftab, Rajin and Ashraful have pretty secure spots in the middle order. But it just takes a little loss of form and someone finding it at the right time to be sitting on the sidelines.

The problem with Bangladesh has often been lack of depth both in the batting order and pace attack. Mediocre performances have been enough to ensure a place in the next match because of the age-old question, who else? Hannan Sarkar and Alok Kapali, both in disgraceful form, played the first Test against New Zealand because there really wasn?t anyone else to take their place. When they failed again, the under-19 stars were thrown into the deep end of international cricket.

This trend could well continue. With the under-19?s finishing a successful campaign in Australia, the likes of Nazmul Hossain Milon and Shamsu Rahman could be pushing for a place in the national team. This will in turn create the right mindset for the men in the national team at the time. ?I must score runs today or junior will replace me?. Should something happen to one of the batsman, someone should be able to slot in with no problem. When will Bangladesh see the likes of Michael Clarke and Martin Love filling in and being successful? Both came in for injured players and played great innings on debut, which enhanced their Test career. Michael Clarke is still in the national team due to the 151 in Bangalore and Martin Love got the call up again when the opportunity arrived because of his performances against England.

In recent times, the most certain of positions have been those of Khaled Mashud and Mohammad Rafique. Finally, even they are getting pressured for their position. The under-19?s produced more gems in Mushfiqur Rahim and Enamul Haque Jnr. Now both Mashud and Rafique will have to perform well in order to keep their place in the XI. These are good indicators for the future.

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The pace department is where the biggest problem with depth lies. Mashrafe Mortaza is one of the best cricketers in the country and will definitely play in both Tests, unless injury should strike again. However, in England you can?t go in with one fast bowler. Tapash has been a consistent performer in the recent past but will that be enough to ensure a place for future series. Tapash is a committed, patient and accurate fast bowler but lacks penetration and his Test bowling average of 57 reflects that. His place could come under pressure if Shahadat and Talha were to destroy the Sussex or Northants batting orders. Shahadat and Talha are potentially fighting for the same position and will fire up and do everything to prove to the selectors that they are the men for the job.

Yes, the tour matches are giving people match practise before the test series and getting them used to the English conditions but they are so much more. The lack of Test class cricketers means that the team is flexible and the tour matches are where players will try and impress the selectors. Mushfiqur Rahim is playing against Sussex. If he should fail, that could be it for the tour. However, if he has a great game he might play in more tour matches and send Mashud a few scares.

Enamul Haque Jnr now has the opportunity to find a place into the team as the only spinner against Sussex. Should he do what he did against Zimbabwe then another test cap isn?t out of the question. Perhaps even two spinners could be played, which would give extra incentive for Shahadat or Talha to perform.

Whatever way you look at it the Tigers will be at the top of their game and that is what the fans, coach and test cricket wants to see.