Short-termism laid bare | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, November 04, 2018 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:29 AM, November 04, 2018

Short-termism laid bare

"Hopefully it will spin. Also [hoping there will be] something that gives our seamers a chance. We want to see how good they are. When we play away from home, they are forced into Test cricket having not played much at all. It's all about getting exposure and experience," Bangladesh head coach Steve Rhodes said about the pitch for the first Test against Zimbabwe at the Sylhet International Cricket Stadium.

He went on to add: "We have a lot of work to do to become a good Test team. We need to produce some bowlers who can bowl well on those wickets."

However, it was directly in contrast to the head coach's statement when the Tigers opted for just one seamer -- local boy Abu Jayed -- along with three spinners -- Mehedi Hasan Miraz, Taijul Islam and debutant Nazmul Islam -- for the first Test against Zimbabwe yesterday.

There seemed to be plenty of positive intent from the team management when the selectors included four seamers in the squad for the two-match Test series. That intent was backed by Rhodes, who praised local boy and newcomer Khaled Ahmed for his pace and consistency to bowl long spells.

But interestingly, it was a totally defensive mindset and game plan from the hosts, who seemingly wanted to get a favourable result with the type of tailor-made pitch that saw them win Test matches against top-ranked sides like Australia and England.

That is of course their prerogative as hosts, but when that strategy is being adopted against even the lowest-ranked side like Zimbabwe, it begs the question whether the team management have confidence in the tools at their disposal.

When it comes to improving in Test cricket, especially in terms of preparing to play well abroad, practice has to start at home. Teams must provide enough opportunities for fast bowlers to gain experience. That is something India did over the past few years and now they are reaping the rewards, both at home and abroad.

Bangladesh bowling coach Courtney Walsh also seemed to agree with that in a recent interview with The Daily Star, saying that it was important to provide seamers with enough of a platform to gain confidence. He added that he was overjoyed by the board's decision to prepare seam-friendly pitches for the National Cricket League.

The lack of experience on seam-friendly pitches has often proven costly for the Tigers, with skipper Mushfiqur Rahim blasting his pacers during the Test series in South Africa last year.

It was later learned that Rhodes had wanted to include two seamers -- preferring Khaled -- but that did not happen as another part of the team were keen on picking three spinners.

Although debutant Ariful Haque can provide a seaming option, he is expected to score quick runs in the late middle order. In any case, it would be more than ambitious for the team management to use the 25-year-old as a second pacer in tandem with Jayed, who needs strong support from the other end.

The only pacer, Jayed, did manage to trouble the Zimbabwe batsmen with tight line and length, also picking up the crucial wicket of skipper Hamilton Masakadza.

But in the face of the playing eleven, the question remains whether the Tigers' think-tank really want to improve their fortunes in Test cricket, or if short-term glories are still the main goal.

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