Pacers' slide of Bangladesh Cricket Team in 2017 | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, December 30, 2017 / LAST MODIFIED: 11:10 AM, December 30, 2017

Pacers' slide in 2017

The Bangladesh cricket team had been suffering from a perennial shortage of fast bowlers, until 2015, when the Tigers' pacers shifted gears and started to make an impact on opposition batsmen and occupying more space in the playing eleven.

But just when it looked like the pacers were going to take off, there was instead a crash landing that has marred much of 2017, especially the end of the year.

Despite the inclusion of West Indian fast bowling legend Courtney Walsh as the bowling coach the Tigers' fast bowling attack is yet to get the shape as it was expected since he was appointed earlier this year.

Mustafizur Raman, the best performer among the lot in 2017, picked up 16 wickets in six Tests at an average of 36.37 with best figures of four for 84 in 20.5 overs against Australia at home. The left arm seamer is also the highest wicket-taker for the Tigers in ODIs with 14 wickets in 11 games, apart from picking up five wickets in four T20Is.

Mustafizur's stats might not look outstanding but it was a reflection on the fast bowling department which was below par throughout the year.

Tigers' ODI skipper Mashrafe Bin Mortaza was the second-best performer among the pacers where he picked up 13 wickets in the as many games at an average of 49.53 in 2017.

Taskin Ahmed made his limited-overs debut in 2014 with a bang but the speedster was unable to blossom over the past few years despite having all the attributes of a genuine fast bowler. The 22-year-old made his Test debut in 2017, three years after his limited-overs debut, with high expectations but failed to make an impact. The tall right-arm seamer picked seven wickets in five Tests at a costly average of 97.42. He bagged 10 wickets in nine ODIs at an average of 42.79 and picked up just a wicket in four T20Is this year.

On the other hand, the selectors have always kept faith on another pacer, Shafiul Islam, who has been able to play only 11 Tests since his debut in 2010.

Such a peculiar stop-start career -- his eleven Tests yielded 17 wickets and 56 ODIs netted 63 wickets -- is the result of a series of injuries.

But yet again he disappointed and played just two Tests and bagged two wickets in 2017 at an average of 70.50 – numbers a bowler would never want to have.

Next to Mashrafe, the most experienced fast bowler in the Tigers line-up is Rubel Hossain and he is another disappointing example despite having the ability to undo the batsmen with his pace and variations. But Rubel was able to take just one wicket in two Tests, while bagging 10 in 11 ODIs with an average of 51.50 and scalped eight in five T20Is – once again figures that are not indicative of a bowler or bowling attack in rude health.

The persistence with Shafiul is all the more puzzling because of bowlers like Kamrul Islam Rabbi, who despite making a bright start has been discarded after playing just five Tests, the last one being against India in the one-off Test in Hyderabad.

Subashis Roy also made a promising debut this year and needs to play more matches in the coming days to gain confidence. Left-arm seamer Abu Hider burst onto the scene after a magnificent Bangladesh Premier League in 2015, but went on to play just five T20Is for the Tigers before being left out without being given enough chances.

The newest addition in the Tigers' pace bowling arsenal, right-arm pacer Abu Jayed, earned his maiden call-up to the Bangladesh preliminary squad after an impressive run in the recently concluded BPL, in which he finished as the second-highest wicket taker with 18 scalps.

“I have been trying for a long time and believe that I will get the opportunity someday, and our sir (technical director Khaled Mahmud) has encouraged me to give my best. I am hopeful that I can play for a long time if I get the chance in the national team,” Jayed told reporters after the training session in Mirpur yesterday.

The New Year will begin with serious question marks over the pace stocks, and it remains to be seen whether management has learned the harsh lessons of 2017. 

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