Bangladesh news April 29, 2014

A familiar tale of misunderstandings and flawed expectations

A build-up of misunderstandings, cultural differences and controversies pushed Shane Jurgensen to resign as Bangladesh head coach, but these same issues have also affected previous incumbents

When Shane Jurgensen, the Bangladesh head coach, sent in his resignation through email on Monday, it was met with surprise from the Bangladesh Cricket Board. However, given that some directors had openly discussed a possible replacement, it was only a matter of time before things came to a head.

The resignation also threw light on the BCB's expectations that a foreign coach should deliver instant results despite limitations within the team and the management. There was also a misplaced notion that the Australian head coach would treat the players like they are treated in Dhaka's club cricket circles.

This build-up of misunderstandings, controversies and cultural differences resulted in Jurgensen's decision, which should not seem hasty despite his first expression of frustration two days before his resignation.

A fundamental difference in the understanding and handling of cricketers in Bangladesh was responsible for creating a wide gap between Jurgensen and the BCB. While Jurgensen has often stressed on treating the players as grown-ups and international-level sportsmen, the general perception among cricket officials has been to treat them in a juvenile manner, like students.

This approach was needed six or seven years ago but players now are more prepared when they enter the senior team, having played for age-group teams, the academy and Bangladesh A. An average Bangladeshi cricketer now plays a lot more at home and abroad, which has resulted in more worldly-wise individuals than the previous generation.

Thus, when Bangladesh kept losing earlier this year, the BCB's reaction was to use the whiplash, even as Jurgensen continued to treat his players as he had done before. Some senior players have said that Jurgensen did deliver the odd broadside, but there was not one occasion when the coach didn't back his players, many of whom were out of runs, wickets, fitness and ideas. When the country, particularly those who run cricket, were blaming the players for the defeats, he stood by them publicly.

The string of controversies didn't help Jurgensen either; many emerged far too swiftly and there was little he could do to manage them. It started with the leaked ICC position paper which revealed the question mark over Bangladesh's Test status. The players were caught off guard and were duly crushed by Sri Lanka in the first Test days later.

Mominul Haque, Shamsur Rahman and Imrul Kayes ensured a recovery in the drawn Chittagong Test but the result could not be celebrated. Tamim Iqbal quit as vice-captain a day after Mashrafe Mortaza was named the T20 captain in Mushfiqur Rahim's absence. Tamim was suffering from a neck strain at the time and (as a source close to the batsman has revealed) in a haste to avoid more negative impressions, he played with the injury. That pushed him into a longer lay-off and ruled him out of the Asia Cup.

Close defeats in the T20 series, a loss in the first ODI after having Sri Lanka at 67 for 8 and then a ban on Shakib Al Hasan for obscene gestures on live TV further eroded the side's confidence, which had swelled only a few months ago after their 3-0 whitewash of New Zealand.

As batsmen and spinners struggled with form, the team was jolted by a defeat to Afghanistan in the Asia Cup, closely followed by a failure to defend 326 against Pakistan.

Jurgensen never flinched while keeping the spirits up, at least in public. His job was to keep the players on an even keel in difficult positions but his strength as an individual was tested, particularly with so many key players out of form.

After bouncing back to all but qualify for the second phase of the World T20, Jurgensen sat stunned in the Zahur Ahmed Chowdhury Stadium's dressing-room as Bangladesh were brought down by Hong Kong.

That result and the subsequent losses in the Super 10s of the World T20 irked the board and matters began escalating when BCB president Nazmul Hassan suggested that there were changes in the offing. It's the kind of comment an incumbent does not find endearing and the situation worsened when board directors began repeating it.

Jurgensen is now the second successive head coach to quit the job after being left aggrieved by the BCB's approach. Jamie Siddons quit after completing his tenure in April 2011. Stuart Law was appointed with much hope but he, too, resigned nine months later due to family reasons. Replacing Law was difficult but even after the board appointed Richard Pybus, there were differences within the BCB internally and between the board and the coach.

Incidentally, it was Bangladesh's early exit from the 2012 World T20 that pushed Pybus to quit, but the build-up was always there, as he had had disagreements with directors over long-term planning.

Including Jurgensen, Bangladesh has employed 12 foreign coaches, of which nine have been hired in the nation's Test-era. Mudassar Nazar was the first in the 1980s, after which Mohinder Amarnath was put in charge ahead of the 1994 ICC Trophy and Gordon Greenidge took over for the 1997 ICC Trophy. The former West Indies opener led the team to the 1999 World Cup, but he had running battles with then BCB chief, Saber Chowdhury.

If the BCB can convince Jurgensen to stay until the 2015 World Cup, the board will need to be more patient but the coach will also have to take charge in a more conspicuous way

The likes of Eddie Barlow, Trevor Chappell, Mohsin Kamal, Dav Whatmore and Shaun Williams have been Bangladesh coaches between 2000 and 2007 after which Siddons, Law, Pybus and Jurgensen were given the job.

Other subcontinent teams, too, have been reliant on foreign coaches for a number of reasons. Sri Lanka, for instance, brings in foreign coaches because of a perception that local coaches do not possess the required skills or experience yet. Developing good coaches, who understand the challenges of modern-day international cricket, has taken them a long time.

Foreign coaches are also expected to be more independent because they are detached from the administrative system. They are perceived to be less susceptible to political pressure, they don't have existing relationships with players or administrators that could compromise their work, and they bring ideas from outside.

In India, the biggest factor behind having a foreign coach since 2000 has been to reduce alleged favouritism in the team. Indian players have always talked about having a fair man in charge, someone they can open up to. Here, too, there is no local coach who has emerged as a contender for the role of head coach of the senior side yet.

If the BCB can convince Jurgensen to stay until the 2015 World Cup, the board will need to be more patient but the coach will also have to take charge in a more conspicuous way. If Jurgensen does not change his decision, the BCB will have to look for a new coach, a seemingly difficult task given the popularity of domestic T20 coaching gigs.

The demand for results is an exaggerated expectation from a team that is still at the bottom of Test and T20 rankings, and is only just making a name in ODIs. The 2015 World Cup was ultimately viewed with more importance than the World T20, because Jurgensen and Mushfiqur were both appointed with the former in mind. Perhaps the board directors should have taken that hint.

With inputs from Sidharth Monga and Andrew Fidel Fernando

Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent. @isam84

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Nasim on April 29, 2014, 10:19 GMT

    @ SamWintson92: Nice analysis. A horror for Bangladesh in the 2015 WC is always in the cards no matter who the coach is. Let alone the pitch factor, the only list A tournament of this season has already been dropped form the calender. The FTP series against Pakistan ahead of WC was deferred due to the elusive BPL (which BTW wasn't considered before T20 WC) and some two-weeks-training camp in Australia (which will definitely involve a fleet of board officials, although who'll comprise the real support staff is now very unclear)...

  • Sam on April 29, 2014, 9:27 GMT

    Wanna add something: I agree Ban needs someone like Ganguly. A very proactive coach who can be seen very easily & is involved. A coach who can identify the problem, talk about it & solve it and improve the infrastructure for which Shakib Al Hasan complained about. Have you look at the Afghanistan coach Kabir Khan ? Always active & gives the strong opposition a run for their money. I like the Netherlands coach also, seen him in WCT20 2014. That kind of activeness, involveness and urgency is required for a Ban coach.

  • Sam on April 29, 2014, 9:20 GMT


    Now some future predictions: 7. Ban will struggle in WC 2015. Because Ban batsman plays in low slow wicket & doesn't have much of an experience in fast bouncy tracks which will be in Aus-NZ. Plus where are the genuine quality pacers to extract pace, bounce, seam movement and swing ? Only the teenager Taskin Ahmed crops my mind. Rubel is expensive, inconsistent. Hope Shubhashish Roy is brought into the mix. 8. The only thing I remember about Jurgunsen that he told that Ban pacers will be sent to Aus to play some club cricket there to adapt to those pitches. I don't see any proceedings after that. 9. Ban now should arrange tours in Aus-Nz-Sou-Eng or Europe (Ire-Net-Sco) where pitches are fast and bouncy. They should also send batsmen & pacers there to play club/A team cricket. 10. If they continue playing in Ban pitches same low slow wicket as a mean of WC 2015 preparation then I'm afraid Ban won't take much time to seal the return ticket.

  • Sam on April 29, 2014, 9:09 GMT

    1. I feel it's a good decision not to keep Jurgensen as coach. He wasn't apt for the job. 2. It's not about poor outings in the WT20 2014 as Ban plays less T20Is and so it was bound to happen. The defeat string started from the SL home ODIs & Asia Cup. 3. The most contributing factor for the sack/resignation of Jurgunsen were the defeat against Afghanistan in Asia Cup & Hong Kong (although it was a T20I match which should have been a regular win by Ban). Add Ban couldn't convert winning positions into actual win in the SL ODIs+T20Is. 4. Ban needs a coach like Jamie Siddions, someone who's extrovert & talks much about team in general & to press and media. I doubt whether many people knew who was the Ban coach during Jurgensen tenure. 5. Jamie Siddons worked well for Ban. He only had 2 problems in my view: he wasn't in favor of Bashar in test side & left out Mashrafe in WC 2011. Other than that pretty cool. 6. I liked the ex Ban bowling coach Ian Pont. Ban needs a coach who shows urgency

  • Baundule on April 29, 2014, 8:04 GMT

    I think, Shane Jurgensen has so far done a good job with the team. However, this time he is taking some emotional advantage. There is no wonder that the BCB would look for every aspect, including the coach's role, after such a humiliating SL-Asia-WT20. The coach should have helped the management to understand where the problem lies. Instead he took the easy option of resigning, putting more pressure on the BCB.

    We need strong characters like Warne or Ganguly as the coach. They will earn respect of both the players and the management. They are confident and straight forward guys. That will solve the communication problem between the coach and the board.

  • Subrahmanyam on April 29, 2014, 7:47 GMT

    In very few instances a foreign coach would be really comfortable in working with a team and the vice-versa too. More so specially, with the Asian countries, where the expectations, mainly from public, are for the most of the part very unreasonable. The country's own work cultrue and ethics play a vital role. So, why not the same country's ex-cricketers be made the coaches. At the international level, no one needs the basics or even the finer aspects of the game. The coach's role is more of a mental conditioning, strategizing, for which he has to know the strengths and weaknessess of each of the players and which in some or the otherway is related to the culture of the country. But in well advanced countries (only as far as crikcet is considered) like India, they still rely on foreig coaches. I always feel Saurav Ganguly can become a perfect coach, because his man manning skills are excelent, similalry Dravid as batting coach and Kumble as bowling coach. SRT for career longevity!!!!

  • Nasim on April 29, 2014, 6:34 GMT

    Nice summary by Isam Vai - 'If the BCB can convince Jurgensen to stay until the 2015 World Cup, the board will need to be more patient but the coach will also have to take charge in a more conspicuous way'. Jargensen was better off with associate/ assistant coach rather than head coach. If he were not too young for this position he would have known what Pybass said few years ago- "I've learnt in over twenty years of coaching professionally that if you don't have full accountability and responsibility for your work, then those boundaries will be interfered with..." Ref:

  • Faisal on April 29, 2014, 6:05 GMT

    Excellent article! Sad to see how foreign coaches have to deal with the mess in Bangladesh. Instead of talking about firing the coaches, the BCB needs to look at themselves and see who in their own administration needs to go. It is time that the people of Bangladesh demanded more from the BCB. We need better leaders who have integrity and vision....not the blind fools that sit at the table now!

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