Bangladesh's cricketers have been forced to extend their break from international cricket after their tour of Sri Lanka was postponed for a second time on Monday. They would have played in a three-match Test series for the first time in six years in October, but now they must wait till January for the home series against West Indies, although that too is uncertain at this stage because of the Covid-19 situation.
The BCB has announced that the senior team will continue to train at their camp in Dhaka, during which the players will play three long-format practice matches. They will also continue to stay in a Dhaka hotel for two more weeks to make sure they don't go out of their bio-secure bubble. But, as ESPNcricinfo has learnt, the players are not too happy to stay in the bubble without international cricket in the offing.
The practice matches are likely to be followed by a T20 tournament, which will also have players from the high-performance set-up and others. The BCB is also hoping that the clubs will agree to restart the 2019-20 Dhaka Premier League, which was postponed after one round of matches in March.
Mominul Haque, the Test captain who might have led Bangladesh in ten Tests in 2020, said that following the disappointment of the Sri Lanka postponement, the players have no choice but to use domestic games to keep themselves in touch. He, however, admitted that the lack of international cricket wouldn't do the players any good.
"As a player it is disappointing," Haque told ESPNcricinfo. "We had an opportunity to play after six months but it is out of our control. I don't want to think too much about it. I think every team has to deal with the difficulty of returning after a long break these days. I think if we get to play domestic cricket before international matches, we can cover some of that gap.
"It is difficult to understand what exactly is the situation when there's no international cricket."
Selector Habibul Bashar echoed Haque's thoughts, saying that Bangladesh's best cricketers were losing out because of the circumstances. "It is unfortunate that the players have lost a year of their career," he said. "Tamim Iqbal misses out on a thousand runs. Mushfiqur Rahim misses out on a few centuries. They are not get any younger. But there's not much we can do in a pandemic.
"[Coming back after the break] will be a big challenge for us, definitely. It is never good to stay out of international cricket for so long. We will be out for almost a year. It is not going to be easy. If we utilise our domestic cricket, we will be better prepared. We wouldn't have been too well prepared ahead of this Sri Lanka series, but it would have at least been a start."
Bangladesh have had longer gaps in Test cricket but even when they missed out for 15 months (July 2015 to October 2016) and 14 months (June 2010 to August 2011) they at least played ODIs and T20Is. In fact, their long sequence of ODI matches have often helped them find success in other formats: the run-up to the 2007 World Cup gave them their best result in the tournament till that point, and the period following the 2015 World Cup showed meaningful progress.
"It would have been great to play the Test series," Rahman told Sarabangla.net. "If the BCB knew that the Sri Lanka series would be postponed, they would have given me the NOC for IPL. But whatever happens, happens for the best; I may have earned Taka 1 crore ($118,000 approx.) had I played the IPL.
"Sri Lanka's proposal to have us quarantined for 14 days didn't seem possible for us. You cannot sit in your room before such an important series, no matter how hard you train. BCB tried, but the 14-day quarantine is their law. I think we should respect it."