Stuart Law, the outgoing Bangladesh coach, has said the future of Bangladesh cricket is bright with young players such as Nasir Hossain in the national team and exciting talent waiting in the wings. However, he pointed out that the youngsters would need to be handled properly.
Law, who resigned recently after being in-charge of the Bangladesh team for nine months, was particularly pleased with Anamul Haque, the top-order batsman who was part of the Asia Cup squad but didn't make his international debut. "Young [Anamul Haque] Bijoy is a quality player," he said, "Especially during the BPL, he looked like he was born to perform."
The 19-year-old Khulna batsman has scored heavily in domestic cricket this season, topping the first-class batting charts with 816 runs, apart from five centuries in all formats. Anamul's form won him a place in the Asia Cup squad in March but he couldn't find a place in the eleven. During one of those days, something that Anamul said stuck with Law.
"The one thing he said to me which I will never forget. We were sitting in the dugout during one of the Asia Cup matches and I asked him, 'Where would you like to bat?' He said, 'I want to be No. 3, I want to be the best player in the world.' And I said, if that comes across, good on you."
Law also praised two other youngsters. "I have been trying to see Mominul Haque get into the team. He's scored runs in the A team tours. We've been discussing him at lengths in selection meetings. He looked like a quality young player. [Abul Hasan] Raju, I love him. Bowls quick, 140-plus, has the slower ball and will get better as he plays more."
The growth of the youngsters was the underlying theme of Law's reign as the head coach as he wanted a few more performers within the team apart from Shakib Al Hasan and Tamim Iqbal. Nasir made his international debut against Zimbabwe in August in Law's first series in charge and since then he has scored a Test fifty, made an ODI hundred and seen Bangladesh through to a win against Sri Lanka.
"You look for the standout players and those two [Shakib and Tamim] have been carrying Bangladesh for a while. I told the rest of the team that it is not about two players. It's about other people sticking their hand up and doing well. Guys like Nasir [have] come through, he's basically up there with Shakib and Tamim."
But Law made it clear that he wasn't looking to alienate the big performers who had to do well day in day out. He especially had gracious words for the world's No. 1 allrounder though he reminded Shakib to take care of his fitness.
"He's professional on the field but off the field he's different. I don't mean this in a bad way, but he could be fitter. He's admitted that he can work a bit harder on those aspects.
"But when he gets out on the cricket field, he creates something out of nothing. He's a beautiful player to watch when he's going great with the bat. I was probably in that boat as well, so I can understand. I didn't like training, I liked playing."
The reason for Law leaving in May rather than the end of June was Bangladesh's lack of international cricket. In fact, Bangladesh won't be seeing Test match action till November, which will be eleven months since their last Test in December 2011.
Law believes this would hurt the team and requested the Bangladesh Cricket Board to plan well ahead of time. "What they need to do is to play more. Let's target West Indies, New Zealand and teams like Ireland and Scotland. Let's oblige to the Associate countries and play four-dayers with them, whenever we get time between international commitments."
Law, who leaves the country on Sunday, said that for providing ample opportunities to cricketers, Bangladesh's domestic cricket needs restructuring.
"The domestic cricket here is a structure of which there's no blueprint anywhere else in the world. It stops, it starts. It would be nice to see these games taking place in these days, rather than two teams have a fall-out and the whole tournament is suspended. That's not good for cricket in this country.
"I know it's a different culture but as an outsider looking in, it can't be good for cricket. We are all trying to say that domestic cricket is where we want our cricketers to learn, they're learning by sitting back. That's not helping them at all."
Edited by Devashish Fuloria