It is important to provide confidence, assurance, and most importantly proper guidance when it comes to nurturing fast bowlers in conditions that are not conducive.
Among the 92 cricketers who represented Bangladesh in Test cricket so far, 25 are fast bowlers. The latest, Khaled Ahmed, made his debut against Zimbabwe in the just concluded second Test in Mirpur.
The six-feet-one-inch tall seamer from Sylhet has impressed Bangladesh head coach Steve Rhodes and the pacer was agonisingly close to making his Test debut in the first Test against Zimbabwe at his hometown of Sylhet.
Known for bowling with good pace and also for his ability to swing the ball in both directions, the 25-year-old made his first class debut just three years ago in 2015 and his List-A debut just last year. Like pacers before him, Khaled came this far because of his natural attributes rather than as a product of a system, such as a development programme, overseen by the Bangladesh Cricket Board.
On his debut, Khaled showed his aggression with the ball rather than with his words. He bowled three consecutive bouncers in his first three deliveries in international cricket -- a sign of an aggressive and confident fast bowler.
Khaled bowled with considerable aggression throughout the innings, testing Zimbabwe opener Brian Chari twice with bouncers, one of which hit the helmet and required medical attention for the batsman to continue. The pacer was almost rewarded for his aggression off the next ball but Chari was dropped at point. This was on the third day, but on the second evening, he had Zimbabwe skipper Hamilton Masakadza dropped at slip in just his second over in Test cricket.
Luck was not on his side even in the second innings as Masakadza was again dropped at gully during his new-ball spell. He ended his debut Test with three dropped catches off his bowling and not a single wicket to show for it. His incisiveness was not just limited to the new ball as he got reverse swing with the old cherry and troubled batsmen in almost every spell.
It is early days yet, but unlike Rubel Hossain -- an experienced pacer who, like Khaled, can sustain a healthy level of pace throughout the day -- his aggression was directed at getting batsmen out instead of just bowling fast; the chances he created are proof of that. More importantly, he displayed the valuable attribute of constantly searching for wickets and trying to think batsmen out -- an invaluable asset for fast bowlers bowling in unfriendly conditions.
There are of course areas to improve upon, such as a better finish with his leading (left) arm and his tendency to fall away in his delivery stride.
However, the challenge is not just limited to conditions. Arguably the biggest hurdle that someone like Khaled will face is the tendency of playing with just one seamer. Skipper Mahmudullah Riyad has already hinted that the home side may once again bank on spinners for the upcoming series against West Indies.
If Khaled finds himself out of the eleven, it is important that he is kept in the picture as, in the absence of meaningful efforts to develop pacers, Bangladesh cricket has to hold on to what it has.