Bangladesh in 2022: big milestones, but miles to go in all formats

BCB cricket operations chairman Jalal Yunus' first year in charge was a productive one, and he's already hungry for more

Mohammad Isam
Mohammad Isam
Mominul Haque walks off the field after guiding Bangladesh to their win, New Zealand vs Bangladesh, 1st Test, Mount Maunganui, 5th day, January 5, 2022

Bangladesh kickstarted their year with a famous Test victory in New Zealand  •  Getty Images

It has been an overall productive 2022 for Bangladesh, with key wins in various series across formats against the likes of South Africa, India and New Zealand, but the team remains hungry for more success.
Now, Bangladesh are starting to get used to the two captains they have, while also identifying future leaders. They will continue with the separate head coaches as they want to give a longer rope to their new T20 ideology, but the Test side will need to have a better mindset.
Jalal Yunus, the BCB's cricket operations committee chairman who was appointed to the position exactly a year ago, is overseeing these small and big changes in Bangladesh cricket. But he is more interested in seeing solidity in all formats.
Yunus was in the thick of it from the first day of his new job at a time when Bangladesh cricket was at a very low point. Pakistan had just defeated them in a home series after their T20 World Cup campaign went bust.
Yunus is one of the most experienced cricket officials in the country. But for years, despite being well-known for his organising ability, he didn't have a central role in the decision-making of cricket. That changed last year when he took over the cricket operations chairman's role.
Twelve months on, and Bangladesh are a very different side. They have taken significant strides in ODIs while showing glimpses of improvement in Tests and T20Is. It is not enough for the former left-arm fast bowler Yunus. But he has played cricket and been an organiser for long enough to know that progress takes time at the international level.
If there is anything 2022 has taught Bangladesh, it is that good leadership provides steady success. Tamim Iqbal has led the team to several ODI series wins, helping them to early qualification to the 2023 World Cup. Tamim has been in good batting form himself, and he let the rest of the squad flourish in their favourite format.
Shakib Al Hasan, meanwhile, took over both the Test and T20I captaincy at times of crisis. Mominul Haque's form had hit rock bottom in May when the board approached Shakib. It was almost a similar situation in the T20I side in July, when the board named Shakib captain of that side too.
Yunus said that Tamim will continue into the 2023 ODI World Cup, but they are also pleased to see Litton Das stepping up against India recently. Mehidy Hasan Miraz and Nurul Hasan have also shown leadership qualities that impress Yunus.
"We will continue with Shakib and Tamim," he told ESPNcricinfo. "We may not have announced it, but we have informed Tamim of our plan. His tenure is till the 2023 World Cup. Litton did well in the ODIs. He can also step up in Shakib's absence in Tests since he is the vice-captain there. He has proved it. Miraz is another future captain. We tried (Nurul Hasan) Sohan as captain. There are new guys who can take over."
Yunus said that S Sriram, who was in charge of the T20 side for three months, will return as the T20 consultant. But he is also being sought for a wider role, as a more permanent member of the coaching staff.
"We brought (Sriram) as a T20 consultant, and we are considering him as a T20 specialist so he will come back. We haven't decided yet, but we want him as a regular coach. We haven't decided on his position," he said.
Sriram showed the ability to quickly understand the players' mentality and was patient in his approach during his short stint as the coach, Yunus noticed.
"I think (Sriram) is a very good manager of players. He has that right mix of dealing with players. I have seen that he would scold someone for making a silly mistake, but when required, he sits them down to talk to them.
"He is a deep-thinking and proactive coach. He works one-to-one with the players. He can read the players' minds very well. He doesn't get frustrated quickly. He shows patience and confidence in the players."
"We want a winning habit in both Tests and T20s. We don't lack the skill, but our mindset is not right. We have to get accustomed to endurance and patience in the longer format"
Yunus on the immediate challenges facing Bangladesh
Yunus said that they want to see players develop in T20s, for which they have separated the coaching and allowed more players into the setup. There wasn't a lot of success for Bangladesh in the shortest format, with their only victories at the T20 World Cup coming against Zimbabwe and Netherlands. Yunus acknowledged the team's entire philosophy had to change.
"We have to become serious about the T20 team. We tried to make a new form of the T20 team. We have been more or less successful with the ideology. We have separated the coaching. We have tried different players for T20s.
"We want to promote new and young players for this format. Many of them are not ready. At the highest level, there's no scope to teach them how to play T20s. The learning process is between the Under-19s and the senior team. We need a very strong infrastructure to prepare them in fielding, batting and bowling."
Yunus said that to centralise the development of players, Bangladesh are also looking for someone to be the director of high performance.
"We won the ODI series against South Africa but we didn't do well in the Test series. We won a Test in New Zealand. I don't think it is enough. We want to emphasise on Tests and T20s.
"We want to have a coordinated effort to strengthen this aspect of our game. We are thinking about bringing in a high-performance director for the overall planning of Bangladesh cricket's structure. All of these changes will bear fruit in one or two years."
But as with most things in Bangladesh cricket, any potential progress comes with its share of challenges. Yunus runs the cricket operations committee, which means he is supposed to expect the best players in the country for the senior sides. But the general lack of cricket grounds across the country is hindering the development of young talents.
"We lack the infrastructure. It is our No. 1 obstacle. We need to address it. We cannot improve domestic cricket with only a few grounds. We need more grounds around Dhaka so that we can do training around the year.
"I see that all the teams are training at the Academy ground (in Mirpur), be it Premier League, women's teams, NCL teams or the age-group sides. We are trying our best to get cricket grounds around Dhaka city," he said.
Still, Yunus believes that the senior team, particularly the Test side, can improve with a better mentality. He believes that there are players eager to play Tests, but those who are not into red-ball cricket will be "phased out".
"We don't want winning Tests to be regarded as something that happens once in a blue moon. We want a winning habit in both Tests and T20s. We don't lack the skill, but our mindset is not right. We have to get accustomed to endurance and patience in the longer format.
"Many of the players are very much interested to play in the longer version, so we will include them in the Test team. Those who don't want to play can be phased out in one or two years."
Yunus heaped praise on the team's fast-bowling group which has improved leaps and bounds in the last 12 months. It is something that hasn't happened in the batting department, although Zakir Hasan's debut Test century is a respite.
"Fast bowlers can now take 20 wickets in a Test match, something that never happened in the past. They have improved a lot. We sent several promising bowlers to Chattogram to train with the senior team's coaches. When you compare it to the fast bowlers' development, we are not getting the similar result from the batsmen.
"We promoted Zakir Hasan, who seems to have the temperament for the highest level. There are many young fast bowlers eager to play Tests. There are fewer batsmen who are like that."
Yunus has surprised many within the BCB and the Bangladesh team with his methodical and steady approach. He is aware of the myriad of issues in and out of the team, but he expects to tackle one thing at a time.
There's no one-size-fits-all scenario in Bangladesh cricket. Fortunately, Yunus is aware of that. He will, however, take all three teams as far as he can take them, with an open mind and realistic expectations.

Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent. @isam84