‘Continuity’ only with a familiar recipe | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, February 17, 2020 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, February 17, 2020

‘Continuity’ only with a familiar recipe

The recipe for the selection policy from the national selection committee over the past few years is not a mystery. Almost every series, the selection panel led by Minhajul Abedin and Habibul Bashar have been repeating a familiar pattern.

There will be at least three or four changes to the previous squad regardless of circumstances, including a few players making a comeback after being dropped not too long ago.

Of course, there will be at least one fresh face in the side who will be rated as a player with huge potential by the selectors, at least for the time being.

However, the explanations from the selectors after announcing every squad ahead of each series more or less remains the same, but the reasons provided for making the changes to the previous team vanishes by the next series.

Once again, the selectors continued in their pattern as the Bangladesh Cricket Board yesterday announced a 16-member squad for the lone Test against Zimbabwe, scheduled to begin from February 22. The squad will be trimmed to 13 ahead of the game.

This time the selectors made four changes to the team that toured Pakistan, with Mahmudullah Riyad, Soumya Sarkar, Rubel Hossain and Al Amin Hossain being dropped from the team.

There were two comebacks in the form of pacers Mustafizur Rahman and Taskin Ahmed while Mushfiqur Rahim returns after opting out of the Test in Rawalpindi. Off-spinner Mehedi Hasan Miraz also returned after recovering from a finger injury.

To make the selection seem more dynamic, the selectors named two uncapped players: batsman Yasir Ali -- who was part of the ODI side that travelled to Ireland for the tri-series last year, but did not feature in any games -- and pacer Hasan Mahmud.

Rubel was included after three years in the squad for the Rawalpindi Test and selectors had opined at the time that they were happy with the pacer's recent performances and wanted to see him afresh considering his experience.

But less than two weeks after Rubel's wayward performance against Pakistan saw him concede 113 runs for three wickets, he was dropped for the upcoming Test against Zimbabwe.

However, chief selector Minhajul offered a completely different explanation about why they dropped the 'experienced' campaigner whom they wanted to see afresh after just one game, saying: "It was not a change [dropping Rubel from the squad]. We picked Rubel as a back-up. As Al Amin Hossain got injured, Rubel played the first Test against Pakistan."

That also raises questions about Al Amin, who according to Minhajul was not fully fit for the Pakistan tour and needed Rubel as a back-up. So, why was a half-fit bowler was included in the side to begin with?

The selectors rectified that by dropping Al Amin for the lone Test against Zimbabwe, but they dropped his back-up, Rubel, too!

Mahmudullah's exclusion from the Test squad has been a major topic of conversation as the experienced cricketer has been going through a lean patch in the longest format of the game.

There were rumours even before the squad was announced that the team management had asked Mahmudullah to focus on white-ball cricket. It was learned that the board even wanted him to retire from Tests considering his batting approach, which continued to be questionable in the first Test against Pakistan.

Expectedly, he was dropped for the Zimbabwe Test. According to Minhajul, however, Mahmudullah was not dropped for his poor performances but, in fact, given a rest. During this period of 'rest', Mahmudullah will feature in the next round of the BCL.

Mustafizur was dropped from the previous Test side mainly due to a poor run of form, with Minhajul saying the left-arm pacer's performances in Test cricket were not up to the mark. That stance also changed dramatically within two weeks.

This time Minhajul said they were considering Mustafizur for red-ball cricket because the left-arm seamer made a brilliant comeback in the ongoing BCL. Mustafizur picked up six wickets in the second-round game of the BCL after going wicketless in the first round.

The justification behind including Taskin Ahmed, who last played a Test almost three years ago, was similar to what the selectors said when they included Rubel: they wanted someone who could bowl fast in Test cricket.

The latest buzzword among selectors and the team management is "continuity" but with the squad being chopped and changed without delivering a clear message to the players about why the were included or excluded, that will be hard to come by.

CHANGES IN BANGLADESH TEST SQUAD (LAST FIVE SERIES)

Against New Zealand (February-March 2019)

In: Tamim Iqbal (back from injury), Abu Jayed Chowdhury, Taskin Ahmed (got injured later)

Fresh inclusion: Ebadot Hossain

Out: Imrul Kayes, Ariful Haque, Shakib Al Hasan (injury), Soumya Sarkar (included later)

Against Afghanistan (September 2019)

In: Shakib Al Hasan (back from injury), Taskin Ahmed (back from injury), Mosaddek Hossain

Out: Mustafizur Rahman, Syed Khaled Ahmed, Tamim Iqbal (made himself unavailable)

Against India (November 2019)

In: Imrul Kayes, Mustafizur Rahman, Al-Amin Hossain

Fresh inclusion: Saif Hassan

Out: Shakib Al Hasan (banned), Soumya Sarkar, Taskin Ahmed

Against Pakistan (February 2020)

In: Rubel Hossain, Soumya Sarkar, Tamim Iqbal, Nazmul Hossain Shanto

Out: Mustafizur Rahman, Imrul Kayes (injury), Shadman Islam (injury), Mosaddek Hossain (injury), Mehedi Hasan Miraz (injury), Mushfiqur Rahim (made himself unavailable)

Against Zimbabwe (February 2020)

In: Mushfiqur Rahim, Mustafizur Rahman, Taskin Ahmed, Mehidy Hasan Miraz (back from injury)

Fresh inclusion: Hasan Mahmud, Yasir Ali Chowdhury

Out: Mahmudullah Riyad, Rubel Hossain, Al-Amin Hossain (injury), Soumya Sarkar (made himself unavailable) 

SQUAD

Mominul Haque (Capt), Tamim Iqbal, Saif Hassan, Najmul Hossain Shanto, Mushfiqur Rahim, Mohammad Mithun, Liton Das, Taijul Islam, Abu Jayed, Nayeem Hasan, Ebadat Hossain, Taskin Ahmed, Mehedi Hasan Miraz, Mustafizur Rahman, Hasan Mahmud, Yasir Ali.

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