The lack of clarity in the selection process of the Bangladesh national cricket team has become a recurring theme. For some time now, a yo-yo selection process has led to panic-stricken decision-making which seeped onto the field of play and what we are seeing from the Tigers now, as evidenced by their recent ODI-Test-T20 outings, is what a panic-ridden team is supposed to look like.
What we are seeing from the Tigers, for instance sending Mushfiqur Rahim to open the innings alongside Liton Das to chase Afghanistan’s 164 during the T20I tri-series match on Sunday, is not innovation but panic-induced decision making with the selection process culpable of propagating such a scenario for the national team.
Soumya Sarkar’s steady progress in the domestic circuit led to him returning to the national team last year. The opener overcame his deficiencies against seam and swing movement to some extent but his issues against spin is well known.
When they picked him for the tri-series, did the selectors not know about his weaknesses and that he will be facing a fine Afghanistan spin attack? It is hard to argue against Soumya’s exclusion given his form but why would the decision be made in the midst of a series? BCB higher-ups have always gone on and on about their plans for the T20 side but that planning has not been evident, especially here.
Curiously, Soumya has now been replaced in the side by 21-year-old Nazmul Hossain Shanto, whose poor form had led to Soumya returning to the Tigers’ outfit last year in the Asia Cup. Nazmul is yet to make his T20I debut.
This decision has also come at a time when Bangladesh cricket is at its lowest point in the last five-six years. While talking to The Daily Star today, chief selector Minhajul Abedin cited ‘poor form’ for Soumya’s exclusion. If that is the basis for exclusion then it is also curious how Sabbir Rahman or for that matter one of the stalwarts in the side in Mahmudullah Riyad have kept their place despite only showing occasional form.
The BCB’s panic regarding such matters is an oft-repeated one. Taskin Ahmed and Sabbir had been added to the World Cup previously without any hint of improvement from either. When there was room for experimentation, the BCB selected whatever established names they had available to make up the squad for the ODI series in late July in Sri Lanka, which was lost 3-0.
They are seemingly picking players for different formats on a whim. Abu Jayed, picked for the World Cup but unable to get a single game due to presence of more experienced seamers in the side, was then excluded from the tour of Sri Lanka, while Shafiul Islam was given the nod. That decision only made BCB’s logic of including Jayed in the World Cup squad more fallacious as he could not even get into the squad for a tour where Mashrafe Bin Mortaza was injured.
Abu Hider Rony was included in the squad for the T20I tri-series on September 14 -- reportedly after a side strain to Yasir Arafat Mishu, a day before Bangladesh’s match against Afghanistan on September 15. Today, the BCB dropped both with neither given an opportunity to prove themselves.
Shafiul has now been included for the next two matches of the series along with Rubel Hossain. Hider has specifically featured in the T20 format for some time now while Rubel last played T20s in August 2018 and Shafiul back in 2017.
Minhajul also told this paper yesterday that ‘the newly-arrived head coach wanted to look at a few players’ while talking about the revamped squad for the upcoming matches. He argued that the likes of Mahedi Hasan and Hider were not being dropped.
“No, they are not being dropped, they are within our system and will tour with the HP [High Performance] team,” the chief selector said.
The burning question for fans and cricket lovers of the country is whether there is any coherent logic behind such decisions. Having talked up the need to unearth youngsters especially in the shortest format, discarding inexperienced players without giving them opportunities is not reflective of those words. Surely they are not prioritising HP commitments during an international tournament.
With the domestic leagues already suffering from various issues -- Test and T20I skipper Shakib Al Hasan recently posing the question of whether playing there does any good -- the BCB are struggling to find a basis for good governance regarding the whole cricketing structure.
BCB president Nazmul Hassan has already diverted the culpability of the recent run of disastrous results to the players, especially after losing the one-off Test against Afghanistan. With the selectors jumbling up their priorities for some time now, the panic-ridden selection is not helping and even if something is gained in the form of short-term results now, it will only cause issues for the future.
BANGLADESH SQUAD FOR 3RD AND 4TH MATCH
Shakib Al Hasan (captain), Mushfiqur Rahim, Mahmudullah Riyad, Sabbir Rahman, Mosaddek Hossain, Liton Kumar, Afif Hossain, Taijul Islam, Rubel Hossain, Shafiul Islam, Mustafizur Rahman, Mohammad Saifuddin, Nayeem Sheikh, Aminul Biplob and Nazmul Hossain.