In his first press meet after being appointed as Bangladesh's bowling coach back in September 2016, West Indies legendary fast bowler Courtney Walsh informed that he wanted to help the Bangladesh's pace bowlers and will be happy if he could get a second Curtly Ambrose from Bangladesh.
Almost a year and a half has gone by and the question still remains whether it was Walsh who was unable to bring out the best from the Bangladesh fast bowlers or the bowlers themselves who could not apply and learn from the vast store of knowledge possessed by a fast bowler who has 519 Test wickets to his name -- more than all Bangladesh pacers combined.
The performance from the Bangladeshi fast bowlers was underwhelming throughout 2017 and the disappointing run this year against Sri Lanka at home in all three formats has prompted Bangladesh Cricket Board president Nazmul Hassan to ask for a special training camp for fast bowlers under Walsh ahead of the upcoming T20I tri-nation Nidahas Trophy which also involves hosts Sri Lanka and India.
Only one pacer, Mustafizur Rahman, featured in the two Tests against Sri Lanka, but the pacers were badly exposed in the two T20Is as in both matches, they conceded more than 10 runs an over with Mustafizur's rate of 9.75 in the second game the exception.
A total of 14 fast bowlers started the training camp under Walsh yesterday which will continue till March 3, and according to the Jamaican it will be important to forget what happened in the past and rather move forward.
“This is just to focus on consistency. We haven't bowled as consistently as we would have liked so this camp is to focus on that. They have to understand their roles in the upcoming series. The camp is also to make them know what fast bowling is all about, and the hard work that is required.
"It is a combination of both. We are trying to keep it simple. We are focused on the consistency, working on the skill-set and getting a better understanding of it,” Walsh told media at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium in Mirpur yesterday.
According to the 55-year-old, the bowlers went over the top and tried too hard during the home series against Sri Lanka. He added that the camp will focus on the mental aspect of the pacers.
“We are working on the mental side of bowling in the camp. They back themselves and keep it simple. In my assessment, that's what has happened in the last series. The guys went a little bit over the top in terms of trying a bit too hard. They have to know what best to do in a situation and how to execute it. If they get the consistency, eight out of 10 times it will work in your favour. We are trying to get them to be consistent and remain relaxed with the execution,” he said.
Walsh informed that Bangladesh were unable to play as a team against Sri Lanka and that both the senior and junior members of the team will have to perform their roles collectively.
The selectors meanwhile have also included six uncapped bowlers in the likes of Ebadat Hossain, Hasan Mahmud, Mohammad Robiul, Khaled Ahmed, Qazi Onik and Hossain Ali in the camp and Walsh said that he will have a look at the newcomers over the next few days.
'Not surprised' by possible Mash return
Despite announcing his retirement from T20Is last year, Tigers ODI captain Mahsrafe Bin Mortaza is still considered one of the best bowlers with the new ball and there has been talk of his return to the shortest format of the game.
BCB president Nazmul Hassan said after the end of Sri Lanka's tour that he wanted Mashrafe to return to the T20I fold, and that he had asked the former captain to return for the Sri Lanka T20Is. The BCB boss then added that he would ask the 34-year-old to consider coming back for the Nidahas Trophy, saying that he was hopeful that the pacer would agree to his request. Mashrafe himself has been quiet on the matter.
“Mashrafe can't be replaced overnight. He has the skill and experience. These youngsters can reach that level over time but they have to be prepared to do the hard work to improve their skills. We are trying to identify some young bowlers after two or three weeks,” Walsh said.
When asked for his opinion on Mahsrafe's possible return to the shortest format the legendary fast bowler said: “It is up to the powers-that-be. He has a good skill-set. It is up to Mashrafe and selectors to think about what role he can play to help Bangladesh in this point in time. I am sure he will do the right thing if he is asked and he thinks he can do it. I am not surprised because he is a talented guy."