Chandika rules Taskin out
"Has he played any four-day cricket?" was the slightly irritated answer from head coach Chandika Hathurusingha yesterday when asked whether young fast bowler Taskin Ahmed may feature in Bangladesh's Test squad for the series against England.
But he has played 10 first-class games, and the coach's point -- assuming it is that Taskin is not part of the Test conversation -- stands insofar that he has played the last of those three-and-a-half years ago.
Now if we were to nitpick and split hairs we would have to ask whether Hathurusingha was unaware that Taskin had played first-class cricket before. If that seems unlikely, is it possible that he was over-emphasising a point to drive home the idea that Taskin should not be playing Tests? If so, why?
"If you haven't played four-day cricket in your entire life, standing four days on the field and bowling 15 overs is entirely new for him. I don't want to destroy somebody's career," the coach said, ending discussion of Taskin's Test credentials for the time being.
It is not as if the speculation surrounding Taskin's role has emerged out of thin air. It has been barely two days since it was announced that he would be playing in the second two-day warm-up match against an England XI starting today. At that time there was much talk about what an important prospect Taskin is for longer-version cricket.
To be fair there was not any discussion, when Taskin's involvement in the tour match was announced, about him being fit or ready for the Test starting on Thursday, but it seemed the door was not completely shut for the second Test in Dhaka, with a certain optimism being expressed about his readiness for the seam-friendly pitches of New Zealand.
It seemed a logical path to pursue because without the injured Mustafizur Rahman and Mashrafe Bin Mortaza, the talismanic but injury-prone pacer whose Test days seem over, Bangladesh's longer-version pace reserves bear an alarmingly barren look. Yet the question elicited an answer as strong as 'I don't want to destroy somebody's career'.
One aspect that seems to have been lost in the euphoria of these shores seeing international cricket after a long time is the revamped selection panel, in which the coach, team manager and cricket operations chairman form a six-man panel along with the three-man selection panel. This discord between the apparent earmarking of Taskin for future Tests and the coach's wholesale rejection of the notion is a curious one. As a member of the process, was he not party to the decision?
After Hathurusingha's utterances yesterday, the party line became that Taskin was never considered for this series. All were singing from the same songbook; the question that will remain unanswered for the time being, it seems, is whose songbook that is.