Do domestic performances matter?
Performance in every profession is the major aspect in determining the quality of an individual and when it comes to sport, performance is supposed to be the key factor in getting reward, be that a recall to the national team or receiving some sort of recognition.
The Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) selectors will submit a preliminary squad today for the upcoming series against Afghanistan in June and the tour of West Indies in July-August. They will also announce the 22-member squad for the High Performance and A team, which will contain players from the same pool.
Regarding the national team, the decision-makers have a tendency towards two beliefs. First, if someone is past the age of 30 and out of the national fold, he should not harbour hopes of a comeback and second, even if they are doing something special on the domestic scene that success cannot translate to the international level.
Abdur Razzak's return to international cricket after nearly four years in the second Test against Sri Lanka in Mirpur earlier this year, when he picked four wickets in the first innings, bucked that trend but it remains to be seen whether that was a one-off or the first instance of commonly held prejudices against domestic performers of a certain vintage being broken.
It is a question that the likes of Tushar Imran, Naeem Islam and Marshall Ayub -- all of whom have been outstanding in the domestic circuit of late -- will be particularly interested in. They however seem set for disappointment as chief selector Minhajul Abedin did not seem willing to hand out comebacks based only on domestic performances.
"You have to remember that it's not necessary that a player who is performing well in the domestic circuit will perform at international level; you have to know about his ability. It's not that you have to pick the cricketer instantly if he performs. First let us give the HP team and the A team, then you will see. When you see the HP squad then you will realise," Minhajul told reporters at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium in Mirpur yesterday.
It will indeed be a surprise if Razzak -- who ended the recently concluded Bangladesh Cricket League as the highest wicket-taker and was among the top three wicket-takers in the National Cricket League -- is not included in the preliminary squad.
If the selectors stick to the general mindset of rewarding domestic performers with inclusion into the A team then the 34-year-old Tushar -- the first Bangladeshi to score 10,000 runs in first class cricket and the second-highest run getter in the BCL with 725 runs at a staggering average of 90.62 -- should get one more opportunity to showcase his skills and also help youngsters with his substantial experience.
Another prolific run scorer in the domestic circuit, Naeem, played his last international match four years ago but has since been among the top run-getters in the first-class competitions. Marshall, also a consistent performer, was left out of the national team after playing just three Tests four years ago and has not even been considered for the second-string national side since.
One of the criticisms of former national coach Chandika Hathurusingha was that during his three-year tenure, there was a narrowing of the player pool because he never saw domestic matches first-hand and just focused on a certain group of players he knew from national assignments and preliminary squads. Now it seems that the blame was not only the Sri Lankan's as he operated within a culture that does not seem to trust in the ability of domestic cricket to produce quality performers.