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Toby Radford turns focus on Bangladesh's Test batting, especially in pacy overseas conditions

Bangladesh's new High Performance coach turns up the speed on the bowling machine at camp

Mohammad Isam
Mohammad Isam
Bangladesh High Performance coach Toby Radford was the West Indies batting coach in 2018  •  Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

Bangladesh High Performance coach Toby Radford was the West Indies batting coach in 2018  •  Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

Two years ago in the West Indies, Toby Radford witnessed two contrasting sides of the Bangladesh team. That first-hand experience has, in turn, convinced him that his first focus as the BCB's High Performance (HP) head coach has to be strengthening the batsmen's techniques against good fast bowling.
Bangladesh were bowled out for 43 against West Indies in the first Test in 2018 and couldn't even reach 200 in any innings during the series. But Radford, then West Indies' batting coach, saw how they bounced back to win both the ODI and the T20I series, something which made it clear to him where their priorities lay.
Having started the HP unit's training camp a few days ago, Radford has already revved up the bowling machine and used the throwdown dogstick with maximum speed. The camp will finish before next month's proposed T20 tournament, after which they will reconvene next year ahead of a possible Ireland A tour to Bangladesh in February.
Radford says he wants to find out who the batsmen with the best techniques are, so that in a few years they can stand up to good fast bowling at the highest level.
"I was with the West Indies team when we played Bangladesh two years ago. [Both the] Tests were over in three days," Radford said. "The pace of Shannon Gabriel and the rest of the fast bowlers blew away Bangladesh's top order. Then we saw a very different Bangladesh side with the white-ball formats. They won both the ODIs and the T20I series. I have told the board that I want to create a group of players that can really stand up in Test cricket. They can be technically tight, face 90 miles an hour bowling and bat for five hours. They can bowl in long spells."
In order to improve their skills in Test cricket, he also wants Bangladesh's batsmen to show courage and respect the good balls. "I threw balls for four hours this morning, and I had a bloke throwing at them at 90 miles an hour. The idea was to test them for five-day cricket. You have to leave balls and get behind balls. Duck under them, be gutsy, get forward. It is a test of what you want in Test cricket. It is the focus at the moment. The T20 and 50-over stuff comes later.
"I want to see the high-end players first. Let's get the chassis of the car built before we get the alloys. I'd like to see Bangladesh be really competitive in Tests, but not just in Bangladesh. The only way you can play against Mitchell Starc in Australia is if you turn the bowling machine up and really get people used to it and techniques to cope with it. It is my whole philosophy."
Radford's other focus is to expose the HP players to different conditions, for which he is asking the BCB to arrange a tour to England in the next English summer.
"There will be another training block at the end of January leading into Ireland A, who are meant to be coming. It is not confirmed yet, nothing is due to Covid-19. After that, I [have] told the board that I'd be keen to tour England, where bowlers can learn to bowl on green wickets that offer seam and swing. Batters can learn to play on them.
"It will be a good test for them in not easy conditions. If these players go on to the international side, at some point they will be facing Jimmy Anderson, Stuart Broad and Chris Woakes at Lord's. I need them to be there before and get used to playing on pitches that seam around, and when it swings. It is tough, and the only way you get used to it is [by] practising."

Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent. @isam84