Tricky schedule ahead
The first three months of 2010 had the Tigers playing five Test matches and ten one-dayers against four different opponents in varying conditions at home and abroad.
As they board a flight to Sharjah to play in the Port City League, the national cricketers will have to make quick adjustments to their game as they prepare to play three Twenty20 tournaments in the space of forty days after two gruelling Test matches against England. The delayed PCL will now end on April 4 and seven days later the national cricketers will turn up for six different franchises in the newly designed National Cricket League Twenty20s.
The tournament was brought ahead of the NCL one-dayers since it would be a perfect tune-up for the national players ahead of the World Twenty20 Championships. The Tigers fly off to the West Indies on April 25, five days after the local tournament ends.
In the Caribbean, the Tigers play two first round matches against defending champions Pakistan (May 1) and Australia (May 5). Three weeks later, Bangladesh will turn up at Lord's to play the first of two Tests against England.
The muddled schedule is nothing new in international cricket but it will take a huge toll on the already overworked Tigers, who have pushed some of the Test matches this year into the fifth day. Add to that the shift in mindset between two modes of cricket and it makes for tough reading.
But according to chief selector Rafiqul Alam, it comes with the territory of playing top-level cricket.
"It is difficult to move from Twenty20s, ODIs and Tests but everybody is doing it. The international calendar was written up a while back and it is all about adjustment in international level," said Rafiqul.
He said the preparation for the World Twenty20s would be smooth with the Tigers playing the PCL and NCL. "The batsman will have no problem to play in the World Twenty20s as by then, they would have played enough Twenty20 games to make the necessary adjustments," said the former national cricketer.
But the real challenge would be to adjust from the Twenty20s to the Tests, that too in England. If the Tigers do not qualify to the Super 8s of the competition, they play two three-day matches against Hampshire and Essex and a four-day game against the England Lions.
It might get tricky if they qualify in the top eight but realistically, they have three weeks and three practice matches to prepare for a stern test.
Rafiqul believes the preparation that is scheduled would be enough for the Tigers. "We have three longer-version matches in England (before the Tests) and I think it will be good enough," he said.
With tricky times ahead, Bangladesh would dearly want their key players in the forefront. And the good news from the chief selector was the re-emergence of Mashrafe Bin Mortaza in the spotlight soon enough.
"The latest I have on Mashrafe is that he has been practicing hard for the Kolkata Knight Riders. He has full fitness now," informed Rafiqul.