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Rhodes' sights on overseas gains as home series kicks off

Bangladesh coach Steve Rhodes gives Ariful Haque some pointers AFP

Bangladesh should keep in mind the need to improve on their Test performances abroad, even while they are playing at home, according to head coach Steve Rhodes. In his first home Test in charge of Bangladesh, Rhodes' intentions of looking at the larger-picture is something that should please everyone in the set-up, although he maintained that the "win-first" mentality remains at the top of their agenda against Zimbabwe.

Bangladesh's last Test assignment, in the West Indies, Rhodes' first as Bangladesh coach, had disastrous results, though Bangladesh beat the hosts in both the ODI and T20I series. Their performance in South Africa, India and New Zealand last year was disappointing although they drew the Test series in Sri Lanka. Their next tour is of New Zealand, where they will play three Tests in February and March next year.

Rhodes said that playing a certain way at home can make it difficult for them to play at a similar level on tour. "We have a lot of work to do to be a good Test team," Rhodes said. "We have learned a way of playing in Bangladesh that makes us compete with the best [at home].

"When we go away from home, we need to learn how to bowl on those wickets. We need to produce some bowlers who can bowl well on those wickets. Most importantly, we are working on batters for conditions like New Zealand, England, West Indies, South Africa and Australia. I understand there's a lot of work to do.

"Because the home wicket is little bit more docile compared to the bounce and seam of Antigua, it means it is sometimes difficult to put [our skills] into place."

Of course, Rhodes knows achieving this goal of his will not be easy. "Trying to bring in slight changes to cope with the bounce and seam, whilst we play on these sorts of wickets is often quite difficult to do," he admitted.

Against Zimbabwe, Rhodes said that Bangladesh will stick to what they do best at home - attack with spin - but without losing sight of the bigger picture. "We have beaten Australia in these spin conditions. What do you play for? You play to win. They beat England. It doesn't matter how you do it. We won.

"We have had difficult wickets against those oppositions and we have also had very difficult wickets in overseas conditions. I am not disillusioned about that. There's progress to be made. I am not making excuses. We could have done better.

"I am a teacher and it is about trying to make players better. Give us a chance; let us see what happens and how these batsmen go."

Already, Bangladesh have moved towards finding cricketers who will fit both roles, home and away. Rookie fast bowler Khaled Ahmed was handed a maiden Test call-up after impressing with long spells for Sylhet Division in the first-class competition, as well as in the High Performance programme and for when playing for Bangladesh A in 2018.

"I have been very impressed with Khaled, especially when he joined us in this Test's preparation. He has come off the back of a 10-wicket haul in domestic cricket, which is a fine effort on a flat wicket. He has height. He hits the wicket. He is definitely the type of bowler who will bowl well on most conditions," Rhodes said.

He reiterated that he is not out to make significant changes to Bangladesh's methods, but to get them to improve in other areas such as slip catching, fast bowling and playing fast bowling in overseas conditions.

"Bangladesh have a certain style of playing, and it is not for me to change it. It is for me to work with it, and develop other areas in which we can still improve. I am not a coach coming here to change the things we do really well. I want to enhance that even more."