Bangladesh are close to finishing their tour of the West Indies and North America as they have only two T20Is remaining in Florida. The Caribbean part of the trip however ended with a 2-1 ODI series victory that can only be seen as a consolation prize after the debacle in the Test series.
It should have been a tour of dominance for the Tigers against the home side if the respective strengths of the sides are considered, but ultimately Bangladesh ODI skipper Mashrafe Bin Mortaza had to rejuvenate the team to make a comeback in the three-match ODI series after a demoralising 2-0 Test series defeat. Then it was no surprise that under Shakib Al Hasan's leadership the team went down badly in the first T20I -- a format that remains undiscovered territory for Bangladesh.
Despite the ODI series win, the results on tour have only served to deepen pre-existing areas of concern surrounding Bangladesh -- namely how long this team will continue to use the Big Five as a crutch. Hidden in that question are deeper issues surrounding the juniors' inability to take the baton and the lack of quality players in the pipeline. In this light, the future of Bangladesh cricket does seem bleak.
How has the most resource-rich sport in the country reached such a state of gloom? It certainly has not happened suddenly; there are some reasons behind the downtrend.
“We only expect smartness from the players and overlook it when it comes to smart planning and policy. It's a different issue when it comes to extraordinary talent but in general you have to have a smart coach, smart planning and policy in place for the rest. But does it exist in our cricket administration? The overall picture is not good and I think the lack of proper planning and policy is the reason behind the downtrend of our cricket,” believed former Bangladesh national team assistant coach Mohammad Salahuddin, who is mentor to many national and upcoming stars.
“Look, Shakib [Al Hasan], Tamim [Iqbal], Mushy [Mushfiqur Rahim] have had that initiative to become a good international player and the way they analyse their performances for every series is really amazing. That may not be the case for the next generation of players but you have to consider the atmosphere in which they grew up. If you go back to the planning and coaching [when the current seniors were coming up] you will find the difference,” he continued.
“Yes, Tamim had a problem with leg-stump deliveries and he corrected it through his own initiative, whereas Soumya [Sarkar] has been making the same mistakes time and again. But I cannot understand how a batsman like Anamul Haque played three innings in three different styles [in the three ODIS against West Indies]. Why do you consider a batsman like Soumya without making technical corrections after he failed to score at every level and was dismissed in the same manner? Why would you select Ariful [Haque] ahead of [Mohammad] Saifuddin? We have suddenly picked up some young players for T20 cricket and then threw them away. No long-term planning exists but we still expect good results,” he said.
He also gave his take on the reason behind the batsmen's failures in the Test series. “I think the lack of good preparation was the reason behind it. All the batsmen premeditatedly went on the back foot to handle the West Indies bowlers, which really surprised me. Our pace bowling is nowhere near international standard, but is there anybody in the administration to ask our two fast bowling coaches [Courtney Walsh and Champaka Ramanayake] why we are so poor in this department and what we need to do? Most alarming is that we don't have quality pace bowlers in the pipeline.”
Salahuddin warned that Bangladesh may even suffer in their favourite 50-over format in the future. “See, our average players get the chance to play seven to eight one-day matches in a year during the DPL; so there is a chance that we will face the music in the future. With a faulty domestic structure and without long-term policy and planning we cannot go far beyond sporadic success, especially at home.”