Tigers’ pace story starting to change? | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, March 23, 2020 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, March 23, 2020

Tigers’ pace story starting to change?

Fast bowling has traditionally been Bangladesh cricket's weak link due to a lack of exposure, hardly any role models for youngsters to follow and, possibly the most prevalent, a lack of motivation on the not-so-friendly pitches and conditions that predominantly favour spinners.

There has always been a shortage of a consistent fast bowler in Bangladesh with Mashrafe Bin Mortaza probably the first and still the only pacer who has made a mark in the international circuit over a long period.

The former Bangladesh ODI captain is the highest wicket-taker in the 50-over format with 269 wickets in 218 games, and Rubel Hossain is second among the pacers with 126 scalps in 101 matches.

Rubel, who despite playing international cricket for nearly a decade, has till now not become a regular across formats. Despite having all the attributes of a genuine fast bowler, Rubel however has not been able to fulfil his potential properly.

Rubel's record in the longest format of the game is much worse than his limited-overs figures, as he has taken just 36 wickets in 27 Tests at an average of 76.77. He was recently dropped after the first Test against Pakistan at Rawalpindi earlier in February this year. Although Rubel picked up three wickets, it was his bite-less bowling during which he conceded 113 runs from 25.5 overs that led to him being dropped yet again.

Rubel was the joint-highest wicket-taker in the Bangabandhu Bangladesh Premier League T20 tournament alongside Mustafizur Rahman, taking 20 wickets, but was not considered for the limited-overs sides against Zimbabwe earlier this month.

"I think I could have definitely worked hard on my skill to improve over the years. Although I have played over 100 ODIs but you will notice that I have not featured regularly during these 11-year career. Fast bowling is a tough art and the more you play, the better you get. There is a huge difference between domestic and international cricket. It gives an immense confidence to any player if he is backed by the team, which helps a player grow," Rubel told The Daily Star.

There was a lift in the Tigers' fast-bowling department in 2015, when Mustafizur announced himself in grand style alongside another promising fast bowler Taskin Ahmed, and that raised hopes for the Tigers fast bowling department but both failed to take themselves to the next step.

There are other seamers like Mohammad Saifuddin, Shafiul Islam, Al Amin Hossain and newcomers Ebadot Hossain and Hasan Mahmud in the Tigers' fast owling unit, none of whom have yet set the world alight.

Things have started to change in tune with the Tigers' thought process with the selectors preparing separate fast bowling units across formats -- Bangladesh played with totally different fast bowling attacks in the Test and limited-overs games against Zimbabwe.

Jayed can be a good example of a bowler given the license and being prepared as a specialist pacer for the Tigers in Test cricket. Jayed, who played nine Tests, has been the stand-out pacer for the Tigers recently as he showed the hunger in testing situations while all other seamers failed to make an impact in India, Pakistan and against Zimbabwe at home recently.

"My aim is to be among the top fast bowlers in Test cricket. I know it's not going to be easy as the conditions and pitches do not favour the seamers much in the sub-continent. Considering my pace, I want to become a workhorse who could bowl longer spells, hitting the right areas consistently with my swing," said Jayed.

Rubel idolised Andrew Flintoff and Jayed follows James Anderson, but both pacers echoed the same sentiment of not having a role model from their own soil apart from Mashrafe to look up.

It will be important for the youngsters to have enough motivation to become a fast bowler and perhaps the likes of Jayed and others would want to be the role model for many in the coming days.

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