World Cup 2015 February 17, 2015

A test of Bangladesh's cricketing systems

The young Bangladesh side, in many ways, represents the transition and growth of cricket and its infrastructure in the country. The World Cup is a chance to test these systems

The World Cup isn't just a chance to savour for Bangladesh's young players but also an opportunity to show that cricket in the country is thriving © BCB

Conditions, pitches and bounce. Preparations, expectations and pressure. Bangladesh would have to deal with these demons first and Afghanistan second in Canberra on Wednesday. Each player will have to accept a world outside their comfort zone for Bangladesh to have a successful outing from their first game onwards.

Since the 2011 World Cup, Bangladesh have played 36 out of 50 ODIs at home and none in Australia and New Zealand. There was, however, little doubt that this was the best cricket team in Bangladesh and there was little debate about who was left behind when the national selectors announced the squad in January. This match and the World Cup campaign is, essentially, an important test of Bangladesh cricket and the systems it has put in place, both natural and structural.

The players' individual progress, over a decade or the past few months, lends its own context to the transition of Bangladesh cricket over the last 15 years. With so much debate now over their future in international cricket, the World Cup is perhaps the best occasion for Bangladesh to show how each batch of cricketers has contributed to the bigger picture. Two of the players took to the game before Bangladesh gained Test status, while the next group of four players began training together in 2003 as part of BCB's first major development programme.

Most players in the current squad have followed in the footsteps of Mashrafe Mortaza, Shakib Al Hasan, Tamim Iqbal and Mushfiqur Rahim - rising either through sheer talent, the U19 programmes or building themselves in domestic cricket, sometimes even a combination of the three. They are the sum total of almost every thought-process that has taken shape in Bangladesh cricket: the need for faster bowlers, all-round fielders, proper allrounders and stroke-playing openers.

Mashrafe and left-arm spinner Arafat Sunny are from Bangladesh's last innocent era - the late 1990s. They took to cricket moments after Hasibul Hossain and Khaled Mashud scampered a leg-bye in Kuala Lumpur in 1997. Like many kids across the country, they ran out of their homes to celebrate Bangladesh's victory over Kenya, having heard the delirious commentators.

After 14 years of playing and coping with as many as 11 leg injuries, Mashrafe is now in his third and most important stint as captain. Sunny, on the other hand, had almost given up the game, after he felt he was the "nothing" player of his era. He was only picked in the Bangladesh T20 team last year, 13 years after making his club and first-class debut, thanks to a large bag of wickets in domestic one-day and T20 tournaments.

If Mashrafe and Sunny came from the 'all-or-nothing culture' of Bangladesh's early days as a Test nation, the next batch of cricketers was expected to make something out of their own talent with the help of the training they received from a young age - a first for Bangladesh cricket.

Mashrafe Mortaza, now in his most important stint as captain, came from the 'all-or-nothing culture' of Bangladesh's early years as a Test nation © AFP

The Bangladesh Cricket Board's first high-level cricket development programme brought Mushfiqur, Mahmudullah, Shakib and Tamim into international cricket, all within the span of a few years. Among the four, Shakib perhaps is an exception in the amount of international exposure he has garnered by playing in various leagues across the world. He is the only member of the current squad to have played in Australia a month before the World Cup, with a stint in the Big Bash League.

Between 2007 and 2010, Tamim, along with Shakib, was seen as one of the path-breakers of Bangladesh cricket, leading the way on the international stage. In that period, he was the highest run-getter for Bangladesh across formats - 4278 in 122 matches - closely followed by Shakib. Since then, however, he has crunched his game down to bare essentials and has lost his position as a batting leader within the team to Mushfiqur, who has flourished over the last two years.

The rise, performance and popularity of these four players has brought forth a more forceful genre of cricketers, represented in the side by Rubel Hossain, Nasir Hossain and Sabbir Rahman.

Rubel was the first fast bowler after Mashrafe to generate excitement with his pace, while Nasir and Sabbir have evolved into two of the best all-round fielders in the country. Of the three, only Nasir received proper training in his formative years but is now on the periphery of the team due to a slump in form. Rubel's concentration on pace and a lack of subtlety has made him a one-dimensional bowler, while Sabbir, who made his international debut only last year, is still very new to international cricket.

By every estimate Taskin Ahmed, Mominul Haque, Anamul Haque and Soumya Sarkar represent the future of Bangladesh cricket and one of them perhaps could go on to become the Bangladesh captain.

Taskin, a fast bowler, was a YouTube sensation as an Under-19 cricketer, growing from his roots in taped tennis-ball cricket, and is seen as a successor to Mashrafe and Rubel. Mominul and Anamul made their international debut in the same match - against West Indies in November 2012 - but have different characters and have had different careers so far. The more flamboyant Anamul has notched up three ODI hundreds but Mominul, with a quieter personality, has put together strong performances in Test cricket.

Unlike many Bangladesh international players, who have risen through the ranks of Under-19 cricket, pacer Al-Amin Hossain and left-arm spinner Taijul Islam are almost entirely products of the domestic system, nurtured through the club and divisional leagues. Their wicket-taking abilities won them a place in the senior side last year and they have not disappointed so far.

Nine members of the Bangladesh squad are playing their first World Cup and it's a chance for them to show that cricket in the country is thriving. What they lack in experience they will have to compensate with natural ability and eagerness. For the older hands, the tournament is a chance to prove their status as big-stage players and leaders of Bangladesh cricket, and leave a memorable legacy.

Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent. @isam84

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Jai on February 18, 2015, 10:55 GMT

    Bangladesh is very talented, but they play too negatively, because of an unlucky losing streak last year. The players and coaching staff must be made to watch videos of how the Bangaldeshis batted when they did the Banglawash against NZ before their bad run started.

    In the long-run Bangladesh has superb talent at junior levels. Liton Das is probably good enough to play international already, with ridiculously good stats at List A. Nazmul Hossain is also very impressive, this kind of talent will eventually shine at the higher levels.

  • Adel on February 18, 2015, 6:36 GMT

    Bangladesh should score 300+ and never become complacent during bowling and fielding. The spin attack BD has and if they use them with a strategy, AFG can be in trouble. My good wishes is both with BD and AFG. Whatever the outcome they should play positive good cricket and that is good for the development of competitive cricket globally.

  • Shafin on February 18, 2015, 5:59 GMT

    This kind of batting is not just good enough now-a-days. You can't beat a team by doing 1950's type of batting.

  • Amila on February 18, 2015, 2:30 GMT

    Specially Good Luck should be with the BD team. They should try and enter the QF, given the fact that SL is under-performing at the moment. BD should target to win today (vs Afg), then against SL and Scot. If they are unable to defeat SL then they should try to defeat Eng. That will guarantee a place in QF. Afg might surprise any of the top teams (Aus, NZ, Eng and SL), if all of the teammates perform exceptionally well in a given day. But if they win today, it is not going to be a surprise or an upset, given the fact that they have defeated BD (Asia Cup 14) at BD home soil. Still BD are the better contender for a QF spot.

  • Noor on February 17, 2015, 23:28 GMT

    As Isam stated "Mominul, with a quieter personality, has put together strong performances in Test cricket." Mominul should be given chance to give an extra stability in the top order in case of any batting collupse. He can play his test mood, by replacing Soumya/Nasir/Sabbir as their part-time medium-pace or spin can be recovered by genuine bowlers. I always worry about Bangladeshi batting as their bowling is quite consistant. It is batting which make BD lose the game most of the time. Moreover, we could not bat all 50 overs consistantly in AUS. Therefore, including Mominul could be a positive move.

  • Santosh on February 17, 2015, 23:16 GMT

    Good luck to the Bangladesh team. With proper execution of plans and some luck going their way, who knows, BD can qualify for the quarters. And to some of their fans like "android_user" stop being a giant tool. From an Indian fan.

  • Dummy on February 17, 2015, 21:33 GMT

    Bangladesh will be the champions this time. The team of full of champions.

  • Dummy4 on February 17, 2015, 20:21 GMT

    Best of Luck Bangladesh :)

  • Dummy4 on February 17, 2015, 18:43 GMT

    Best of luck. Bangladesh doesn't lack talent. BD players need to believe in their ability and skills and not get too wrapped up in what the opponents strengths are. InshaAllah u guys will show great progress.

  • Khondker S on February 17, 2015, 17:30 GMT

    Best of luck for BD players. I hope you can reach 2nd round and show your talent.

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