Who’s next? | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, April 29, 2019 / LAST MODIFIED: 02:52 AM, April 29, 2019

Who’s next?

It is quite unfortunate that there is no provision to include pictures with headlines, because this one really should have been flanked by laughing emojis as Bangladesh’s squad selection has become little more than a joke.

The Tigers are now taking 19 players to Ireland for next month’s tri-series, and the two latest entrants are at opposite ends of the spectrum of farcical selection decisions. There will be celebrations in the households of Taskin Ahmed -- who was in tears in front of reporters after originally being left out of the World Cup and tri-series squads on April 16 -- and Forhad Reza, who played the last of his 34 ODIs for Bangladesh in December 2011.

These two decisions, for different reasons, are proof positive that there is very little in the way of actual planning -- long-term or short -- behind the decisions of chief selector Minhajul Abedin and Habibul Bashar.

Taskin had recently recovered from an injury and was in line to be picked for the World Cup squad, which would have seen him in the Tigers’ ODI dugout for the first time since October 2017. However, Minhajul said while announcing the squad that there were still doubts over his match fitness. That led to dramatic tears, and Taskin played for Legends of Rupganj in the Dhaka Premier League (DPL), his claim to recent fame being an expensive four-for.

If the selectors were thinking of testing Taskin’s match-fitness in the DPL -- let us decisively start ignoring soundbites like ‘performances in the DPL do not count toward national selection’ -- why not include him in the Ireland squad anyway? Yasir Ali and Naeem Hasan are two cricketers who are not part of the 15-man World Cup squad but going to Ireland as extra options.

So, someone like Taskin, who would have been expected to regain fitness soon enough, was a no brainer contingent upon his recovery. Instead, it took public words of support from bowling coach Courtney Walsh, a social media and -- in some cases -- news media campaign, as well as Taskin’s tears to suddenly change the wise minds.

Forhad is another matter however. He is 32 years old and has been one of the regular performers in domestic cricket. He may end up a domestic colossus similar to what Tushar Imran and Abdur Razzak have become, but he has not set the world alight in domestic competition. He did put in a good all-round show in the just-concluded DPL and was high up on the wickets charts, but it honestly has to be asked whether it was enough to look back at someone who could be said to be past his prime.

There is also the question of whether a medium pace-bowling all-rounder is needed. The main choice for the position, Mohammad Saifuddin, is nursing tennis elbow but has excelled in the DPL in that condition. Soumya Sarkar has become good enough with the ball to bowl five overs. In the unlikely scenario that they need a third option, why someone who has not been in and around the team since playing a T20I against Sri Lanka in 2014?

The selectors often like to pretend that options are thin on the ground, but the case may actually be that they do not remember all the options. Not long ago, Ariful Haque was the choice for the seam-bowling all-rounder’s role. He is also an excellent fielder. With due respect to Forhad, it makes much more sense to have one of the best fielders in the country as an option to come on as 12th man, which seems to be what Forhad is destined to be.

This level of planning, as it has become plain to see, is however beyond the selectors. Instead of hoping for analytical thought on their parts, it’s much better to grab some popcorn and ask: who’s next?

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