A subdued yet auspicious return | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, January 11, 2021 / LAST MODIFIED: 01:20 AM, January 11, 2021

A subdued yet auspicious return

The scenes at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium in Mirpur yesterday were unusual because there were no supporters such as Shoaib Ali Bukhari, better known as "Tiger Shoaib" for his body paint, screaming their support during the national team's practice session. 

The stands were empty and the home of cricket was quiet due to the obvious reason of maintaining health protocols set by the Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB), but the intensity among the cricketers was high and for good reason.

After over 10 months, the Tigers are all set to return to international cricket with the upcoming home series against the West Indies. The first practice session of the preliminary squad for both the ODI and Test squads took place under head coach Russell Domingo yesterday.

The Tigers' coaching staff -- including head coach Domingo, fielding coach Ryan Cook and interim spin bowling coach Sohel Islam -- were busy conducting the training sessions of cricketers divided into several groups.

"Obviously, we are all excited as we joined the national camp after a long time and we had a good practice session," Nazmul Hossain Shanto told the media after the training session in Mirpur yesterday.  "Although we were together during the Bangabandhu T20 Cup, it's a different feeling to share the national dressing room together.

"We will be playing international cricket after over ten months and we are discussing areas to work on during the training sessions. Hopefully we will be able to do well in the upcoming series."

Domingo was seen observing his charges in the outer nets and gave some batting tips to Shakib Al Hasan, who will be making a comeback to international cricket after completing a one-year ban from international cricket in October last year.

A festive mood prevailed among the cricketers who were finally returning to their natural state and looking forward to getting into the groove since last playing international cricket in March 2020.

However, Bangladesh's pace bowling coach Ottis Gibson and the newly appointed batting consultant Jon Lewis were quarantining at the hotel following their arrival to the country on Saturday.

Both coaches are awaiting clearance from the health ministry to join the camp as they are UK passport holders, who have to go on a mandatory 14-day quarantine protocol set by the government.

The BCB however had already requested the authorities to relax the quarantine protocols for the national coaching staff and the visiting West Indies side, who also had a stopover in the UK before arriving in Dhaka yesterday.

The West Indies side reached Bangladesh yesterday morning and went straight to the team hotel where they will be isolated in their room for the next three days.

The 24-member Bangladesh preliminary squad had also checked into the hotel after the training session and they will be kept inside a bio-secure bubble during the series. The members of the Test squad, who are staying at the Academy complex, are also expected to check in to the hotel soon.

 

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