Thursday, February 21, 2019
Updated: Friday, October 31, 2003
Let?s think before using the ?D? word !

G. M. Bashar
Another batting collapse and another round of introspection beckons. For Bangladesh it is familiar territory with memories of past shakedowns. The much-touted 25 test defeats in a row are an ever-present ?Sword of Damocles? hanging over every discussion about our team. Disturbingly, we might be fast approaching another unpleasant record - the habit of dropping players and an unacceptable turnover rate.

The Bangladesh eleven is in serious danger of being ?the temporary 11?. With every defeat the cries of ousting players at any sign of mistake, perceived weakness or plain boredom gets increasingly loud. This phenomenon has taken root in our anxiety to find the miracle bullet that will deliver a first test victory. Increasingly, common sense is becoming a victim of this rage. In combination and in tandem with the ?D? for Drop the player phenomenon is the ?S? for STAR of the day phenomenon. We could be entering uncharted waters.

Annoyingly, questions remain unanswered. Can we set up reasonable criteria to judge players and assist our coach to make a rational decision? We are talking about sensitive issues here. Young cricketeers with vitality and a future test career on the verge of blooming or self-destruction. They can be gently nurtured or dispatched to oblivion. These boys are not robots in a production line waiting to receive the days order. Truly, a lifetime of dedication could be nipped in the bud.
So what are the reasons touted to drop players?

The D list criteria:
  • ?He has a minor injury?.
  • ?He has not been performing in the test for some times?.
  • Consistently going through several ducks.
  • Not a natural test player.
  • Temperament or lack of it.
For the case of Bangladesh the unhappy and part of the list of D members are (in order of disappearance and including probable list of victims for the next round of axing):
  • Kapali - Still a key ODI player and an all rounder with multiple talents besides the batting. His potential absence could herald a shift in the coach?s approach to the team and a slew of other changes in the team make up.
  • Tapash - Currently out of action. In a team with few pace options a true mystery why such a player is left out.
  • Talha - Fastest paceman in Bangladesh. His whereabouts seem to attract an aura of mystery.
  • Ash ? Once touted as Bangladesh?s great batting hope. Undergoing dubious rehabilitation.
  • Sanwar - Showed sparks of brilliance during the Australian tour.
  • Rokon - A batsman with tremendous flair.
Unfortunately for the coach, nation and fans a cursory look at the batting averages for these players indicate that at some point (however rare) these players have shown exceptional promise. Moreover, the top ten in terms of batting still contain some of these names with some of them members of elite group of world record holders.

Wasted talent or a waste of time having them in the first place? Players who have been stars such as Ash and Masri were quickly inducted into the national team. Some of these players stuck within the team for a considerable amount of time and with exposure began to show true weaknesses and underperformance.

Then the, ?S? list criteria:
  • Scoring consistently in a domestic league. Should the domestic league be the launch pad for a test career? Yes, the basis for any player's inclusion should be the national leagues. However, the work does not end there.
  • Scoring a magnificent innings in a practice match ? How much credence do we place on such matches?
  • Displaying exceptional bravado where there is a dearth of such.
  • Intuition ? This is the Coach?s domain. Seeing a winner by looks, behaviour and temperament. The apparent ARGUMENT that coaches sees things that a layman cannot see.
Serious waste and mismanagement of talent is going on. This is a tragedy. So, we better learn how to make sure that our players are on a career path that can be tracked. If necessary, a core group of 20 to 30 players are monitored and called up so that they are not lost forever. In order to ensure a new player is not hopelessly out of depth on the international stage, youngsters need to be mentored in the company of the national squad - home and away - before making that debut. Unfortunately, the lack of mentors also contributes to the lack of direction some of these young stars experience.

Also to ponder is what guarantees do we have that these newfound stars do not follow in the footstep of their brothers in temporary misfortune. We have Nafis, Aftab and Enamul who are filling shoes left by Ash, Sanwar and Manjurul. How radically different are they in technique and temperament? After all these players are coming out of the same talent pool and culture. As a result of such shifts overnight change in Bangladesh performance is asking too much.

The sobering truth is that the transformation of Bangladesh to a competitive team is in the middle of an unfinished process. The effort to impart technique to the lower order and the transformation of mental attitude is ongoing. Lastly, it is the mental attitude that will take time. In fact we probably will not be able to pinpoint when exactly this transformation has been completed. And it is in this context we can extract some meaning in Dave?s latest quote: ? I don?t care about winning?.