Psychological skill development coach Ali Khan delivers a lecture to 32 Bangladesh cricketers at the National Cricket Academy in Mirpur yesterday. PHOTO: STAR
With the scorching heat kept at bay by the closed windows of the air-conditioned room, the country's leading cricketers assembled to listen to a lecture not from a cricketing expert but a psychological skill development coach named Ali Khan, a Bangladeshi Canadian.
One might say that the time would have been better spent doing some work in these trying conditions, but mental strength in modern sport is as vital as skill and fitness, especially when players have to confront pressure-filled situations.
That is why many officials of the Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) felt the need of some assistance from an expert like Ali after national cricketers, including the tough Shakib Al Hasan, pointed to pressure as a reason for the team's recent dismal performances.
Left-handed opener Tamim Iqbal was particularly interested in Ali's advice so that he can recover from his prolonged lean patch. The opener was not present at yesterday's first group session at the National Cricket Academy, where a total of 32 cricketers took part, but before going abroad he had more than 30 hours of discussions in six days with Ali Khan. Other cricketers also showed immense interest for one-to-one sessions with the psychological skill development coach after a long session where Ali mostly talked to give an idea about mental strength.
“I think it's a very good idea. The first session was very encouraging and personally I felt that it will help us a lot. And I will keep in touch with him, so I can overcome a few things. It depends on you how you respond to it,” said Bangladesh skipper Mushfiqur Rahim.
The extent of a three-day workshop's impact may be questioned. “Maybe not. The first job is to educate and then the second job is to achieve. We started the first bit and the board will definitely think about its continuation and someone may continue it. I have lot of commitments in Canada but I still have passion for my country,” said Ali.
The BCB however has no clear idea about what they want to do with the programme and they did not sign any deal with Ali and it was also not sure whether the Bangladeshi expatriate will be paid for the sessions.
“Let's see what happens with the players after the three-day programme. We are still not sure whether we will make any deal with him (Ali Khan). We will take the feedback from the players and also discuss the matter in the board,” said an unsure Akram Khan, BCB's cricket operations committee chairman.