Asia Cup 2008 June 22, 2008

Siddons targets 240 as team total

Cricinfo staff

Jamie Siddons: "We used to score over 200 runs only about 25% of the time, but since I have been here it has gone up to 50%" ©

Jamie Siddons, the Bangladesh coach, has targetted 240 as the total his team should try and score every time they bat during the Asia Cup. "If we can regularly score 240, which we rarely do, we can be competitive and hopefully win a few games," Siddons told the Dhaka-based New Age.

Looking at the positives within his team, Siddons said it was good to see Bangladesh were no longer relying only on Mohammad Ashraful to get big scores. "Now we have Raqibul [Hasan] , we have Shakib [Al Hasan], we have Tamim [Iqbal] - they are all capable of making 90 or 100 at international level against the better teams. I know it will come together at some point and when they all perform at the same time, we will be a good team. What we are trying to tell people is that it's not just about Ashraful, it's about the rest of the players around him performing. Once that starts to happen, Ashraful will be a bonus."

Siddons was also pleased that the team was scoring more than 200 and batting out 50 overs more often than they used to. "We used to score over 200 runs only about 25% of the time, but since I have been here it has gone up to 50%. That is a start. Things are not going to turn around overnight with this team. We have changed the team a fair bit; lots of younger players have come into the side. At the moment, we have the young guys learning the game at the international level and I see some really good performances."

Siddons defended the 'Team Rules' that he drew up for each player and denied they were having an adverse effect on the players' natural game. "When I first came here, everyone was saying to me - you have got to stop Ashraful from playing rash shots all the time. Now that he has stopped playing rash shots, you are telling me to let him play them. So I am not sure what everyone wants. But with Ash batting at three, I think it's perfect. He can play his natural game until we lose two wickets. After that, he has to play a little bit more sensibly."

Siddons said it was a reality that other teams were better than Bangladesh and his players knew that. "Out there it is a tough game for them with the skill level they have got. Our batsmen average 20; batsmen in other teams average 35. So it's 350 for them versus 200 for us. That is the reality of the situation."

Siddons was also critical of the infrastructure available to the domestic players, and said there was a need to get better coaches to Bangladesh. "Even the Premier League clubs have terrible training facilities." He also said the first-class structure was not producing players good enough for the international circuit. "In our domestic cricket, we don't have bowlers who bowl at over 130 kph. Yet, at the international level, every side has got bowlers who bowl at 140-145 kph. That is a massive difference.

"Also, bowlers in international cricket tend to be a lot taller than the ones our batsmen face in domestic cricket, which again makes a massive difference. You can't learn it until you face it. You can't try it in the nets, can't try it with the bowling machine. That is why our players fail when they first get into international cricket. So improving the quality of domestic cricket, making the wickets bounce a lot more would make a big difference."

Bangladesh open their Asia Cup campaign with a match against UAE on June 24.