Selectors inconsistent too
After the highs of 2009, the Year 2010 started for Bangladesh with a downhill trend. They lost all four of the one-day matches in the triangular series and have lost the opening Test against India in Chittagong. As expectations from the cricket team have peaked, so has the pressure on them to perform at a very high level. Pressure is there not only on the players but on the selectors as well as all the decisions are closely monitored and evaluated not only by the board but also by millions of fans worldwide.
And with that weight of expectations, they seem to be making crucial mistakes by not reading much into the consequences. Some of the selection choices for the triangular series were widely criticised. Now, there is a new one that has the critics on their feet once again. Yes, we're talking about the decision to take Shahriar Nafees in the first Test after almost two years of absence and then chopping him the next game, and who knows for how long.
Nafees looked uncertain outside the off-stump in both innings in Chittagong, didn't get much of a chance in the first as he was dismissed off a peach of a delivery from Ishant Sharma. His return to Test and international cricket lasted only three balls.
If that was a sorry return then his exit, as it seems for at least some time, was marked by very embarrassing and discomforting 27 balls. He looked completely out of sorts in that one-hour stint in the second innings, played and missed a couple of times, offered two healthy edges to VVS Laxman in the slips only to be dropped to aggravate his misery. Finally he was put out of his misery by Sharma who made him edge to Virender Sehwag at gully.
His stay at the wicket was a nightmare to say the least, a nightmare for him to bat against the likes of Zaheer Khan and Ishant Sharma and a nightmare for those who watched him bat from the stands and on TV. But was it all his fault that he didn't find life so rosy having returned to international cricket after almost two years of isolation? Was it his fault that he couldn't negotiate Zaheer and Sharma's swing and bounce straight away whereas all he played in this time was one-day and Twenty20 cricket, and that too at club level?
Test cricket is not one's piece of cake, and making a transition from 50-over club cricket to Test cricket is not a matter of joke. No matter how good a batsman you are, you have to be at a very high level of fitness, temperament and application, if not technique to do well over the five days. Surely, Nafees was not back to the best of shape, he looked nervous in both innings which is very understandable.
Then the obvious question is why the selectors chose him for the toughest form of tests instead of getting him used to with a flavour of one-day cricket, which many think he rightfully deserved. And now that he was tested and he failed that test too, does that mean he would not be able to perform again? The selectors and team management thought nought. They came to this realisation that he was not up to the 'standard' they were looking for. Wasn't that a thing to be decided prior to the selection than afterwards?
Of course, they had their plans up their sleeves. Nafees and Zunaed Siddiqui both were picked for the one-down position. Zunaed had been a regular feature in Bangladesh's batting in Tests for the last two years and he played in the last Test in West Indies in July 2009 too. Then why, in the first place, was Zunaed not considered for the first Test? Even though, he had been struggling for runs in shorter version for some time now, his Test record was pretty good. In fact, he got a score of 78 just two Tests ago.
So, what was this tinkering all about? As if the selectors thought let's give both of them a fair share and see who comes out on top. This sort of wavering attitude is not what you expect from the national selectors when playing at the highest level. The fickle nature of selection policy has had detrimental impact on the careers of many a promising cricketer in past, and let's hope the same doesn't happen with Nafees.