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News Analysis

Salahuddin ticks most boxes but is BCB listening?

Senior players rely on his inputs, he's been a part of a BPL and DPL winning squads and has served as assistant coach of the national team. Yet, the top job has remained elusive

Mohammad Isam
Mohammad Isam
Shakib Al Hasan has a chat with Nasir Hossain and Tamim Iqbal, Mirpur, January 26, 2014


In the middle of this year's Test series against Australia, the Bangladesh Cricket Board appointed Mohammad Salahuddin as batting consultant in part-time capacity. He left his Eid holidays and came down to meet Nizamuddin Chowdhury, the board CEO, only to be told they had changed their mind and that he wouldn't be required. The incident was an embarrassment for Salahuddin.
According to a board insider, the request to include Salahuddin in the coaching setup was to temporarily fill the void left by Thilan Samaraweera's departure after the Champions Trophy. But no one could explain the decision to turn their backs on a coach who is so highly regarded by the national players.
Why Salahuddin now, you may ask. Who is he? Why did the BCB feel the necessity to hire him in the middle of a Test series? Why do many of the Bangladesh players swear by him? For starters, Bangladesh Cricket Board is looking to hire a new head coach following Chandika Hathurusingha. But they're seeking a high-profile foreign name.
Salahuddin used to be assistant to Dav Whatmore and Jamie Siddons, the head coaches, from 2005 to 2009. Both of them praised him and enjoyed a strong working relationship. He was also the fielding coach in the last two years of his time in the Bangladesh coaching set up.
Then he took up a job in Malaysia, at a university, but would help his former students - Shakib Al Hasan, Mushfiqur Rahim, Nasir Hossain, Mominul Haque, Shamsur Rahman, Naeem Islam and Soumya Sarkar to name a few - whenever he was on holiday in Bangladesh. You only needed to ask any of these people or Tamim Iqbal if Salahuddin was in town or not, because it was he who helped them make minor batting tweaks, it was he who they consulted when they were shrouded with self-doubt.
During the 2016 IPL, Shakib wasn't having a good time with the bat. Upon hearing Salahuddin was in Dhaka, he flew back for a day just to get parts of his batting back in shape. While this was the most famous meet-up, there have been plenty of other significant meetings between the two since 2011. There have been several occasions, when in the middle of a series at home, Tamim, Mominul and Nasir have been seen discussing batting with Salahuddin.
When Abdur Razzak was suspended from bowling with an illegal action, it was Salahuddin, then Bangladesh's assistant coach, who took him to Khulna to remodel his action and bring him back to international cricket with renewed success.
Before his time as Bangladesh's assistant coach, Salahuddin used to be head cricket coach at BKSP, Bangladesh's most prestigious sporting institute, between 1999 and 2005, after he had completed his education at the institute.
In his playing days, he used to be a useful seam-bowling allrounder for nearly a decade in domestic cricket. These days, he works for the Gazi Group Cricketers, and even helped them them win the Dhaka Premier League title for the first time in 2017. He is currently in charge of Comilla Victorians, whom he helped to their maiden Bangladesh Premier League title in 2015.
All this makes Salahuddin a candidate for the Bangladesh job. If experience is what the board is looking for, he ticks the box. If they're looking at someone who can earn the respect of the seniors, there's a tick there too. He's been a part of domestic title triumphs. But, Salahuddin isn't going to put his name forward just now, although being Bangladesh head coach remains a career goal. The recent episode, however, may have a role to play.
"I want to be the Bangladesh coach, who doesn't?" Salahuddin told ESPNcricinfo. "But I don't think this is the right time for me. The board told me a few times in the past that I am going to be the assistant coach but they backed off. It happened recently too. It was embarrassing for me. I have never asked for the job; they asked me."
There should be someone from the BCB talking to him. He is an asset, and arguably the best coach that Bangladesh have produced. With so many of his proteges in the current setup, this is perhaps the best time to appoint him.

Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent. @isam84