Why a 'Shadow Team' Will Not Make a Difference in Bangladesh Cricket
Bangladesh cricket is struggling. Really struggling at this point of time. Much of the progress made in the last six years has sort of fizzled out. The senior players are growing older, and the team can still not find youngsters to replace, or even support the senior players. The younger players have not been able to step up at all, whenever the team needed them. And this has been going on for a pretty long time.
Though Bangladesh won the ODI series against Sri Lanka 2-1, it was apparent for anyone watching to see how difficult it was for the full strength Bangladesh team to win the series against a depleted Sri Lanka side. In fact, the Sri Lanka team, which was composed of three debutants, managed to beat the Bangladesh team convincingly in the final ODI by 97 runs!
As a result of all the underwhelming performances lately, the BCB took yet another measure to attempt to strengthen the pipeline of the cricket team. An announcement was made about the formation of a "shadow team" called Bangladesh Tigers. The team will be composed of the players who are in the national team's plans, but are not able to get their opportunities. The idea is to keep these players absolutely ready for the national team, in case any player is unavailable or injured during a series. The players in the shadow team will get top-notch training facilities throughout the year, just like the national cricketers, and the team may also engage in tours abroad. But the question remains, how different is it actually from the already existing Bangladesh A team?
The Bangladesh A team experience is the closest a cricketer can get to international cricket before they enter the national team. But the team is barely maintained, and rarely gets to partake in tours overseas. The management organises series with the Ireland Wolves and the Afghanistan A team here and there, and that's basically it. Ideally, the A team should be the place to groom players after their domestic performances by setting them up for regular tours overseas, possibly to play against the county teams in England or South Africa. But if the players here are not able to get proper exposure to international cricket beforehand, there's very little meaning to set up another team with similar objectives (which will ultimately lead to the same results).
Apart from definitely reconstructing domestic cricket in the country (which would be a long and arduous process), the BCB should seriously consider planning for, and maintaining the A team properly. A stringent plan in the future tour plans will ensure players are getting ample opportunities before getting into the national team, both home and away. And this will to some extent compensate for the failings of the domestic structure, and a separate shadow team will not be needed. The young Indian players, who are in the Indian team now, have all come through rigorous India A systems and have made immediate impact in the international arena. And if we want to see our younger players shining too, we have to replicate a similar plan and give them the necessary resources.
When the youngsters and the seniors start to perform together, it won't take long for the fortunes to quickly turn in our favour.
Tahmim Hassan likes binge watching TV-series and watching over the same cricket highlights time after time. Recommend him more TV-series and songs at firstname.lastname@example.org