Can the newcomers save Bangladesh?
The fact that the Bangladesh selectors have included four uncapped players in their Test squad for the England series has received plenty of attention the past week.
Young off-spinner Mehedi Hasan Miraz, the hard-hitting Sabbir Rahman, wicketkeeper Nurul Hasan and pacer Kamrul Islam Rabbi are the four cricketers who have been in the limelight this week. While there's no doubt that all these players are quite talented, questions have been raised regarding the move. Have the hosts taken too big a risk by including four potential debutants?
After all, with the exclusion of the likes of Mohammad Shahid and Jubair Hossain, both of whom were regular members of the Test team until Bangladesh's last series, the bowling attack could suffer due to inexperience. It's not as though Shahid and Jubair are extremely experienced, they themselves debuted in 2015 and 2014 respectively. However, with Kamrul and Miraz yet to play a Test and Shafiul Islam returning after two years, things could end up being a bit tricky.
But then again, this isn't a new phenomenon. A glance at Bangladesh's Test statistics would suggest that Bangladesh have regularly depended upon new players to fix their perennial problems in the longer version. And unfortunately, almost none of those players manage to stay in the team for a long period of time. In a way, it goes to show just how unstable Bangladesh has been in the longer version.
In the last five years for instance, Bangladesh have witnessed debutants in every series. They have played 12 series since October 2011 and have seen 19 players make their Test debuts.
Each of these players was taken into the team in a bid to solve a different problem. For instance, openers Nazimuddin, Anamul Haque and Shamsur Rahman began their respective Test careers in 2011, 2013 and 2014. Back then, Bangladesh were hoping to move past the out-of-form Imrul Kayes and were looking for new partners for Tamim Iqbal.
The team's hunt for a specialist Test spinner aside from Shakib Al Hasan led them towards Elias Sunny and Sohrawadi Shuvo in 2011, Shohag Gazi in 2012 and finally the likes of Shuvagata Hom, Taijul Islam and Jubair Hossain in 2014.
The pace department has seen several changes as well with Abul Hasan, Ziaur Rahman, Al-Amin Hossain and Mohammad Shahid given opportunities in the last five years.
Unfortunately for the Tigers, a majority of these players haven't managed to make an impact and that is perhaps the reason why four uncapped players have been included in this Test series. The fact that Bangladesh have played just 12 series in the last five years doesn't help the cause either.
The team management's thought process for this series seems to be similar to that of the last five years. They are hoping that the new arrivals can break the monotony. While the move may pay off, it just reinstates the obvious fact, Bangladesh are in dire need of some good Test bowlers. And until they find a couple, it's likely that the experiments will continue.