Can HP fill the A team's void?
A competitive domestic competition is the key to a healthy pipeline for the national side. And refreshingly, domestic cricket has slowly moved forward towards achieving the desired standard. It however is not enough; a country must ensure that they have enough series for their second-string team so that they can provide the requisite international exposure for those players who have dropped off the national radar as well as young talent so that they can be better prepared to enter the national team.
Unfortunately, the reality is that series for the Bangladesh A team have been few and far between -- the last tour took place back in October-November 2015 when Bangladesh A visited South Africa and Zimbabwe.
“Without a doubt regular A team series are important but in reality it's not always possible to arrange it. We are trying hard to make it possible and hope it will take shape if we can arrange a tour as per our desire within the next two months,” said the Bangladesh Cricket Board's (BCB's) cricket operations committee chairman Akram Khan, adding: “Actually, the HP [High Performance] team is like the A team."
With the acute lack of assignments for the A team, a 16-member HP Squad is all set to fly to Australia tomorrow. The main purpose of the tour, however, is to train players in different conditions. During the visit the HP team will play some matches against local players in Darwin but it was actually arranged mainly by the HP team's Australian coach Simon Helmot as part of the HP squad's training in different conditions. When the first-class season in Australia ends, players come to Darwin and continue playing since the weather in Darwin is different from the rest of the country and Bangladesh HP team will only try to play matches against those players.
Still, it has come as an opportunity for out-of-favour players like Anamul Haque.
“Players like us who are out of the national side for long hardly get the opportunity to play against foreign sides, so this tour is important for us. If I am not wrong I am going to play matches on foreign soil almost after a two-year break. We have the domestic platform to prove ourselves as performers and we also need the platform against foreign sides to get ready for the national side because you know how big the challenge is now to get a place in the national side,” said the opener.
Chief selector Minhajul Abedin also said that this HP tour carries huge value as they are considering the selected players for the HP squad as players at the A team level. “Hopefully, the A team series will take place within the next few months, so those who show their potential during the HP team visit will be considered for the A team.”