The cricket coach conundrum | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, January 04, 2018 / LAST MODIFIED: 08:49 PM, January 04, 2018

OPINION

The cricket coach conundrum

Is it time we looked at local options?

The Bangladesh national cricket team is without a coach again, and an array of experienced foreigners are being interviewed for the job while former captain Khaled Mahmud Sujon acts as interim coach. Now is a good time to discuss the plausibility, pros and cons of doing something that is yet to happen in our cricketing history, the appointing of a Bangladeshi as full-time head coach of the national team.

The position of coach in the cricketing world is a tricky business of responsibilities and boundaries. Coaches get to provide input about team selection, but the ultimate decision comes from the selectors and finally, the captain. A coach can come up with a game plan but he sits inside the dressing room for the entirety of a match and it's the captain who makes those decisions in match situations out on the pitch. It's clear that the responsibilities of a coach have much to do with careful communication with the team, the captain and the selectors and herein lies the first argument for why the national team needs a local coach. The quality of instruction doesn't matter if the players have a hard time understanding it, and if they don't understand it, it's impossible that its implementation will be worthwhile.

cricket coach conundrum

But if the solution to this communication gap is the appointment of a Bangladeshi coach, the natural thing to ask is whether these coaches can offer the same, or nearly the same expertise as foreign ones. For starters, Bangladeshi coaches don't have a lot of Test experience, if any. Khaled Mahmud Sujon has been a Test captain for Bangladesh but that was at a time when all the team did was turn up for the matches, and seldom dared to think about winning them. Aminul Islam Bulbul's name has been thrown in for the job but his experience in Tests isn't much to speak of either. First class cricket has been around in Bangladesh since as long as we've had Tests, so the problem with lack of experience in local coaches is something that is true for most of them.

What they lack with experience, however, local coaches can make up with their knowledge of the players. Mohammad Salahuddin is a coach whose name fans will have read in interviews by a number of cricketers over the years. He is the mentor whom Shakib Al Hasan went to in the middle of an edition of the IPL because his performances took a dip. He has the respect of all the big names in the team, and he continues his work with younger players as one of the BCB's staff coaches. Salahuddin would definitely have the ears of every cricketer in the dressing room, and with him in the picture, future selections could be made with a lot more knowledge than what a foreign coach could provide.

The trick in this messy situation, like all messy situations, is to find the right balance. In the recent past, there has been news of unrest in the dressing room and rifts over authority over decisions between the players and the management. A high profile name with an ego to boost may not be the best option in such a situation, but in looking for a lightweight, the board can't appoint a complete nobody for this important post. The Bangladesh national team today has a handful of experienced and supremely talented senior players; what's required to direct them to the direction of regular success is not another big name in the mix, but an experienced individual who's okay with taking a back seat.

 

Azmin Azran is what you would find if you took a bunch of human beings and made a new one out of their median characteristics. He's so average he's a mathematical anomaly. Send money at azminazran@gmail.com

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