For once, no uproar | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, April 17, 2019 / LAST MODIFIED: 03:47 AM, April 17, 2019

For once, no uproar

Historically speaking, Bangladesh's World Cup squad selection has been followed by friction and even uproar. There have almost always been some controversy following squad announcements. This time around however, there was little room for friction following the selectors' announcement of the squad for the 2019 World Cup. The Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) picked a 15-member squad that possibly represents the best-case scenario under the current circumstances. If we go through what transpired following the announcements of squads and the controversies involved, this time around there was less to complain about even if some expected names did not make the cut.

The situation concerning Minhajul Abedin ahead of the 1999 World Cup is of particular interest since the veteran was not picked in the initial squad for Bangladesh's first-ever World Cup. Age was an issue and his form ahead of the coveted tournament was abysmal, but his experience held value and he proved to be relevant, striking two 50s and picking up four wickets, ending up as Bangladesh's top performer after the board changed their stance later on and picked him. It is fitting that he, as chief selector, has presided over a selection that has minimal controversy.

Bangladesh had one of their worst runs of form leading into the 2003 World Cup and Akram Khan, who had been left out of the original squad, was flown in midway through the event. The material and circumstances for controversy was once again on view upon squad announcement.

The 2007 World Cup squad raised eyebrows amongst fans and experts due to the exclusion of the tried and tested Khaled Masud in favour of the inexperienced 19-year-old Mushfiqur Rahim. Amid huge uproar, Masud was not however included.

Mashrafe Bin Mortaza's exclusion in 2011 caused a furore as despite an injury, he had wanted to take part in Bangladesh's first home World Cup wholeheartedly. Even in the 2015 World Cup, Al Amin Hossain being withdrawn from the tournament was cause for controversy itself.

Looking at team selection for the 2019 World Cup, there is not much room for argument with the squad selection process. The selectors went for experience with the core group of players already certain of playing. The crop of experienced players like Mashrafe, Tamim Iqbal, Shakib Al Hasan, Mushfiqur Rahim and Mahmudullah Riyad have carried Bangladesh cricket with their performances. There was very little opportunity for chaos given the options at hand. The pool of players who could be counted on at the highest level is very small and while that may have been cause for headache among the team's think tank, it paved the way for little controversy regarding squad selection.

Soumya Sarkar and Liton Das have been struggling for form and while it is a concern for the selectors, the duo have performed in tournaments where it counted and there simply were not enough options to challenge their positions.

Imrul Kayes could have been an option but his recent form, coupled with the role he plays, did not make him a secure investment in the top-order. Much could be made of Taskin Ahmed's exclusion; his situation is pretty similar to Mashrafe's back in 2011, but the management had reason to believe that his fitness was not optimal for the long grind ahead. Even as Bangladesh need backup pace options, having an unfit player in a squad which will play nine matches in the group phase alone would be a big risk. The management also has an ace up its sleeve as changes can be made to the squad till May 22. That means the Ireland series could be crucial for both youngsters Naeem Hasan and Yasir Ali, both of whom were named in the 17-member squad for the tri-series that will lead into the World Cup. As it stands, there could be changes but the lack of options mean that the 15-member squad announced for the 2019 World Cup has less room for controversy than ones from the past.

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