Sri Lanka in Bangladesh 2013-14 February 9, 2014

Bangladesh need to nurture Test gains

A few talented youngsters have performed well for Bangladesh in the 2013-14 season, but the team management and selection committee need to give the players a longer rope to nurture the talent in the longest format

Given the limited-overs overload over the next five months, the significance of Bangladesh's Test performances in the 2013-14 season could become a distant memory by the time they tour West Indies in July. It is, nevertheless, hard to overlook the performers of the four Tests between October and February, against New Zealand and Sri Lanka respectively.

Mominul Haque stood out as the most impressive performer in these Tests, but he was not alone. Shamsur Rahman made impressive starts in all three formats while Imrul Kayes' century in his comeback Test would give him confidence. Although Sohag Gazi bowled too quickly against Sri Lanka in the Tests, he was on top of things against New Zealand. Tamim Iqbal, Mushfiqur Rahim and Shakib Al Hasan have also had their moments over the last five months.

Mominul's unbeaten hundred against Sri Lanka in the second Test in Chittagong, his third in the last four Tests, emphasised the importance of a solid No. 4 in the Bangladesh line-up. He has already become the highest scorer at the position for Bangladesh, with 755 runs in 13 innings, easily beating Mohammad Ashraful's 691 runs in 44 innings.

Among batsmen of the last five teams in the ICC Test rankings in the last 12 months (with a qualification of five Tests), Mominul (755) is fourth on the list of leading run-getters, behind Kumar Sangakkara (1106), Ross Taylor (910) and Kane Williamson (820). The New Zealand batsmen, however, have played 11 and 10 Tests in this period, respectively, compared to Mominul's seven.

Mominul is apathetic towards numbers and that was definitely his approach on the fifth day of the Chittagong Test when Bangladesh had to bat all day to secure a draw.

"The pressure was of the team's position in the game, absolutely," Mominul said. "The hundred was never really in my sights. The openers Tamim bhai and Shamsur bhai gave us a good start, but from the first ball I faced, it was in the business of survival. I had to kill time, so reaching fifty and hundred were not the prime concern.

"I am not too keen on statistics. I don't keep an eye on my score on most occasions. But a batsman's satisfaction does come with a milestone, especially on such a day. The team obviously comes first, so I was focused on making safety a certainty. They bowled really well at times, so it was very important that my concentration didn't break."

His immediate concern is limited-overs batting, as he averages in the twenties in both ODIs and Twenty20s. "I would not say that I am doing well in the toughest format, but I want to play all types of cricket. I want to improve my batting in different formats," he said.

Bangladesh will play two Twenty20s and three ODIs against Sri Lanka, after which they play a minimum of four ODIs in the Asia Cup from February 25. Then comes the World Twenty20, where they play three preliminary round matches against the Associate Nations and, if they qualify, another four games.

With the possible addition of ODIs against India in June, Mominul will be expected to be in the thick of things, taking responsibility of the middle-order like he has done in Test cricket.

At the same time, the new performers of the limited-overs glut will stake a claim in the Test side that will be selected subsequently. Since there is a tendency to prefer the latest performer, there should also be time to think of the pitfalls that such a thought process brings.

The most recent example was the selection of Al-Amin Hossain ahead of Robiul Islam as the lone seamer in the Chittagong Test. The explanation from Mushfiqur Rahim, that Al-Amin was picked because he was the best bowler in the previous Test, was baffling. Robiul had taken 15 wickets and bowled 110 overs in the two Harare Tests in April, but he is suddenly out of favour.

The same thing happened to Mominul during the ODI series in Zimbabwe. He batted rather slowly at No. 3 for two matches, which prompted his exclusion for the third game. His highest score in the next three ODIs, against New Zealand in October, was 32, but it remains to be seen if his Test form could help buy him time in the shorter formats.

It is a ludicrous question to ask of a batsman who has batted so well recently, but five months from now, the example of Robiul could be repeated. A broader, long-term view, a very un-BCB like characteristic, is welcome to be part of accepted wisdom in the Bangladesh team management and selection committee.

Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent. He tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • dummy4fb on February 13, 2014, 6:26 GMT

    i will request BD selectors just keep the selection process simple, do not make unnecessary changes in the team. Follow a process and make it clear to all new comers as well straggler. T20 team must be selected basis of t20 performer in domestic tournaments same for Test team on the basis of first class tournament, do not put multiple new comers in the same team. wait for the right time to give opportunity to new comers, Our t2o team needs a new captain. From now on keep a look to the potential t20 captain in future and also try to make a combination for the t20 team. the selection of our captain by BCB is really pathetic . Captain should come through a process from the junior level. just a simple example, why BD selectors allow to play three keepers like Bijoy, Shamsur, and debutante Mithun al in first T20. Our t20 team needs to familiar with win in this format. It looks they are lost and have no idea how to win in this particular format.

  • SultanMahmud on February 11, 2014, 0:43 GMT

    As for England, Australia, New Zealand, or South Africa, bringing up a new spinner is a tough process, come up with a pacer in our country is a tough process as well. They hardly be among the wickets in our low bouncy pitches moreover as recently most pitches are converting batting paradises. The pacers may get some benefits in Fatullah (Bogra, Sylhet, Savar (2)(3)) if some internationals schedule there, but we don't know how long. Recent ODI modification of introducing two new balls made a silent revolution for the pacers but the question is how much we (BD, India, SL) can take from that. We may take short time plan to play somehow in Australia or NZ to be ready to get the advantage in the next world cup or with long time exchange program like BD and NZ can exchange 3 u19 players (pacers & spinners) to play local leagues. Anyhow, we need minimum of two regular wicket-taking pacers in all three formats.

  • wapuser on February 10, 2014, 20:34 GMT

    Rubel, Razzak need to be used exclusively for ODI and T20 cricket. Al-Amin, Koyes exclusively for test cricket unless we'r short of 11 players. Bangladesh need to plan for a full time testkeeper who can hold onto regulation catches and not miss stumpings.

  • Fogu on February 10, 2014, 14:40 GMT

    I agree with Herath-UK and I am from BD. BCB made a short sighted decision instead of partnering with CSA, SLC and PCB to push back on this power grab. Part of the issue in BD is politics and it's influence on sports. Current government is pro IN and has members in BCB who has to follow the Government's direction. It obviuosly does not help that the so called big three used strong armed tactics to cower the smaller boards. At this time a strong leader is required and unfortunately we do not have many of those.

  • Bangladesh_Forever on February 10, 2014, 14:10 GMT

    At the moment, BD pacers' role is supportive for the wicket-taking spinners - to tackle the runs and keep the pressure on. 1/2 breakthrough is considered bonus. In the past Mashrafe and Nazmul did that for the team. While these two are being rehabilitated in the first class matches after recovering from injuries - Robiul, Al-Amin and Zia have showed competence. With correct selection from these pacers BD can now draw tests against any opponent.

    To win tests regularly, however, BD need to create genuine fasts who can lead the attack by taking wickets regularly, averaging below 22. It is a long endeavor that starts from making lively pitches for the domestics to providing traditional coaching on techniques and fitness...but most of it depends on giving players enough games round the year...

    In the era of Ashrafuls BD batting depended on sheer talents but now the first class structure is producing better batsmen. With the right focus, that's possible in respect of pacers too...

  • mishu01710 on February 10, 2014, 12:52 GMT

    As my view, BCB should arrange A team series regularly like 3-4 series every year where could have 10-12 four day matches, 12-15 one day matches, 6-8 T20 matches. For A team BCB should hire high level coaching staff like Allister de Winter as head coach and fast bowling coach, Graeme Hick or Dene Hills as batting coach, Sunil Joshi as spin bowling coach, Wade Seccombe or Chris Taylor as fielding coach who could prepare our players for top level. For national team BCB should hire a full time foreign fielding coach and ensure minimum 9 months availability of Saqlain Mushtaq. With all of this BCB must have to restart development squad program where 16-18 youngsters will be nurtured under Richard McInnes who did same type of job before few years and present us today's Sakib, Tamim, Mushfiq. I think Richard McInnes is a right man who can take our youngsters to next level. And finally please professionalize our FC championship with infrastructure development, high quality head coach etc.

  • MasumKhan on February 10, 2014, 12:02 GMT

    The absence of a match winning pace bowler is giving toiling time for Bangladesh team to win test matches. Over the years the only pace bowler with some substance has been Mashrafee. He is back in 1st class cricket recently and has bowled about 15 overs in each innings. It will be worth to bring him back to the test side. Instead of overloading him , he can be given shorts spells like 3-4 overs in each session. He is capable of making early break through which none of the current pace bowlers are capable of doing. My proposed test team for the future is Tamim, Shamsur, Imrul/Naeem , Mominul, Sakib, Mushfiq, Nasir , Shohag Gazi , Mashrafee , Robiul , Al-Amin/Razzaq.

  • Herath-UK on February 10, 2014, 9:48 GMT

    BD left Sri Lanka & pak in the lurch to make a back door deal to get more tests with the big three.This may infact boomrang on them playing against the best more often means going down the ranking & making relegation more real.Good for them!

  • siddhartha87 on February 10, 2014, 6:18 GMT

    Bangladesh pace attack is toothless.They can't win matches until they find some better seamer.Robiul Islam is ok at best he is their best seamer at the moment. They should look beyond Rubel to be honest. He has taken 14 wkts in 11 tests in last 3 years(av 79 Sr 136) .

  • Little_Aussie_Battler on February 10, 2014, 5:40 GMT

    Good that Bangladesh is beginning to prepare for the play off test match series in 2019 to see who keeps their test status and who gains it.

    Really it should be a four team relegation battle. The top two associates versus the bottom two test nations(Bang and Zim(Rhodesia)).

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