Bangladesh A lacked first-class experience
Stuart Barnes, the Bangladesh A coach, has said that his side's dismal performance at the Shafi Darashah tournament was down to the lack of first-class exposure. Barnes, however, avoided commenting on the drama that surrounded the captain Shahriar Nafees being sent back home due to misconduct before the third group game in Bangalore.
The second-string Bangladesh side started off the four-day competition on a positive note when they drew the opening game against Baroda Cricket Association XI but lost the other two group games - against KSCA Colts by five wickets and KSCA XI by 155 runs - to be eliminated from the group stage.
Barnes had ten international cricketers at his disposal, which included seven who have played Tests for Bangladesh. But the players showed their lack of first-class match experience, failing to grind it out over a period of four days.
"What I saw in India reflected the number of one-day matches compared to four-day matches that the players play here [in Bangladesh]," Barnes told ESPNcricinfo. "The batsmen need patience, discipline, and be mentally tough enough to be within their batting plan because their job is to bat all day. But in order to get to that point where they need to know how to bat all day, they need to practice it in matches domestically."
"I was impressed with one or two aspects because it was clear to me that some were trying to do things differently. But the probability said that, because of the number of one-day matches that they play here, they weren't just going to be able to switch to the different skill-set needed for four-day cricket. It was disappointing not to win any games but that was a fair reflection that they don't know how to play the longer game yet."
One of the weaknesses that Bangladesh batsmen showed consistently during the tour, according to Barnes, was against offspin bowling. Bangladesh lost half of their wickets to offspinners. "We lost in different wickets, for different reasons. We lost 49% of our total wickets to off-spin, which surprised me initially but when you look at it closely, there aren't many off-spinners in Bangladesh. The only difference in the wicket was the offspinner managing to get more bounce. We lost for skill reasons more than anything else," he said.
Doubts were raised about the atmosphere in the dressing room after the captain, Nafees, was sent back in the middle of the tour. Barnes, who was involved in the decision-making, did not comment on the issue. During the second game, Nafees had expressed his anger towards the Umpires after his dismissal, later to be warned by the match referee.
"It's important to have an environment that encourages players to learn, and not just about skills but about playing in different parts of the world. That incident was unfortunate but I won't speak about it until I talk to my board directors here," Barnes said.
According to newspaper reports, some players also showed dissent towards the trainer during the A team's camp in Khulna before they headed to India, but the team management didn't inform the BCB nor take any disciplinary actions. "I had quite a big squad to work with in Khulna. My job as coach is to challenge players, observe how they react to being challenged. I've mentioned before that I'm very keen on fitness to improve but that doesn't happen in a one-day series. I experienced different reactions of players to all my challenges. I am thick-skinned and it was just interesting to see how they react. I didn't take anything personally. I'm looking for players who think on their feet quickly," he said.
The 42-year-old Englishman was impressed with Mominul Haque, Naeem Islam, Shahadat Hossain and Enamul Haque Jr for trying to take a different approach while batting. He told the batsmen that with their high strike-rates in first-class cricket, all they need to do is bat a little bit longer to increase their batting averages.
"I honestly believe every player wants success. But the question is what the success looks like to them individually. Is it to improve their batting average over the next two years, by five runs. What I stressed to all the batters, their strike-rates suggest that if they bat another 20 balls per innings, their average would go up very easily. I believe players are motivated by different reasons," he said.
Bangladesh A's next assignment is against the West Indies High Performance team in September. They will play a four-day game, three one-day matches and two Twenty20 games.
Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's correspondent in Bangladesh