Mashrafe the man to follow
Bangladesh opener Tamim Iqbal believes that youngsters can learn from ODI captain Mashrafe Bin Mortaza's dedication and the importance he gives to domestic cricket.
The left-hander was speaking about Mashrafe becoming the highest wicket-taker in a single edition of the Dhaka Premier League and was asked why the youngsters had failed to challenge the 34-year-old veteran in the country's lone List A competition.
There have also been questions about whether Mashrafe's feat exposed the failure of youngsters to step up to take the leading role.
Tamim initially backed the youngsters over their dedication but added that they must improve in order to get the desired results on the international circuit.
"That's one aspect we need to improve," Tamim said when asked about the fading performances from young bowlers in the league this season.
"In the national team we still believe that the bowlers actually win games for us, evidenced during the big wins in series against India, South Africa and Pakistan. The batsmen also performed but it was the bowlers who contributed to the wins. You can win matches at the international level when the bowlers perform their best. So I hope that the bowlers who are out of form will return to their flow soon.
"The batting department in the national team is stable now and if the bowling department starts to perform then we will be able to win many tough matches in the coming days," he said after working on the rehabilitation of his injured knee at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium in Mirpur yesterday.
There remains a huge concern over who among the next generation of the Bangladesh national team can fill the gaps and take the responsibility currently borne by senior members in the team such as Mashrafe Bin Mortaza, Shakib Al Hasan, Tamim Iqbal, Mushfiqur Rahim and Mahmudullah Riyad.
Unfortunately the Tigers' think tank is still searching for those kinds of cricketers among the next generation. And the fact of the matter is that not many youngsters have displayed either the consistency or the tendency to take responsibility and learn from their mistakes as their predecessors did.
The performances of the young pace bowlers on sporting wickets in the ongoing league showed their lack of hunger, especially when Mashrafe, at the age of 34 and with the weight of 17 years of top-level cricket on his knees, remains on the top of the wicket-takers list.
He surpassed Abu Hider's tally of 35 for Gazi Group last season before taking two more in Abahani's victory on Monday and now sits on 38 scalps -- 10 ahead second-placed pacer Qazi Onik, who has played five games less than Mashrafe this season -- with one game left to play in the country's lone List A competition.
Among the top ten wicket takers this season, six are fast bowlers and the majority are experienced campaigners like Forhad Reza, Mohammad Shahid, Shafiul Islam and Mashrafe. They were accompanied by two Under-19 seamers, Onik and Robiul Haque.
Interestingly, the likes of Taskin Ahmed, Kamrul Islam Rabbi and Abu Hider have remained rather ineffective, bagging 16, 15 and 14 wickets while playing nine, ten and eight games respectively. However, all three of these seamers have been expensive, with economy rates nearing six per over.
So, while praising Mashrafe for his marvellous achievement, the think tank must also reflect on the other side of the coin.