There is a rich tradition of age-level cricket in Bangladesh with many stars rising out of the system, such as Shakib Al Hasan, Mushfiqur Rahim, Mehedi Hasan Miraz, all of whom went on to represent the Tigers at the world stage with distinction.
With the young Tigers setting a new benchmark by winning the ICC Under-19 World Cup in 2020, the Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) is now giving paramount importance to the age-level circuit to create a strong pipeline of players for the national side.
As part of a long-term plan the BCB's game development committee had almost formed an under-21 side made up of those cricketers, but progress was halted due to the pandemic since March last year.
Although the regular talent hunt programmes of the age-level groups have been suspended since the Covid-19 outbreak in the country, the game development committee kept things rolling by arranging a virtual talent hunt programme where youngsters could send their bowling, batting, and fielding videos to the board from which the selectors could shortlist the candidates.
Currently, the under-15 national camp is going on at BKSP where all players and the coaching staff are kept inside a bio-secure bubble.
Normally, the selectors pick players from national age-level competitions that take place each year across the country, but things are different this time. Four age-level selectors -- Hasibul Hossain, Ehsanul Haque, Sajjad Ahmed, and Hannan Sarkar -- are busy moving from one division to another scouting age-level talent.
Ehsanul, who looks after the under-17 group, is currently in Khulna alongside Sajjadul where they are observing the shortlisted cricketers in a match-scenario training camp.
"You know things are different this time around obviously, for the pandemic. As we couldn't arrange the national competitions due to health safety reasons, we are trying to continue our process in a limited way. But it is a challenge as we had to ensure the safety of the cricketers, which is our biggest priority at the moment.
"As you know we did arrange a virtual talent hunt where the youngsters sent their videos to us and from there, we tried to shortlist a few of them. Obviously, it's tough to select players through those videos and not in person but the BCB's game development committee is trying its best to keep things going," Ehsanul told The Daily Star yesterday.
With the under-15 and -17 groups already having started their proceedings, the selectors are also looking forward to starting the under-19 camp from this month as part of the preparation for the ICC Under-19 World Cup next year.
"Although many of our plans were suspended due to the pandemic, we do have back-up plans for the under-19 team. We are working to prepare the next under-19 batch but at the moment health safety is our main concern. We are hoping things will change in the near future so that we can resume our full-fledged training camps of all age-level groups in the coming days," Ehsanul added.