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New Bangladesh chief selector Gazi Ashraf Hossain promises independent decision-making

There was a perception that the previous committee had allowed the head coach or senior BCB officials to influence its decisions

Mohammad Isam
Mohammad Isam
Shoriful Islam, not for the first time in the series, picked up key wickets, New Zealand vs Bangladesh, 3rd T20I, Mount Maunganui, December 31, 2023

The new Bangladesh chief selector Gazi Ashraf Hossain wants to extend their bench strength  •  AFP/Getty Images

Gazi Ashraf Hossain, is happy to have open lines of communication between his panel and the players and team management, but he said it was important for selectors to have the freedom to make decisions. Ashraf had to address these concerns because of the perception that his predecessor Minhajul Abedin and his selection committee had allowed the head coach or senior BCB officials to influence their decisions.
"I don't want to talk about the previous process," Ashraf, a former Bangladesh captain who played for the team in the late '80s and early '90s, said. "I have spoken to the board. There will be independence in this role. Captain [Najmul Hossain Shanto] and coach [Chandika Hathurusingha] will be involved in the discussion. We will try to stick to global standards.
"I will interact with the players. I know most of the players. I don't know most of the new players. I will try to meet them, speak to them. We will need to establish a relationship in time. I believe there's a lot of enjoyment in working freely. Both ways, whether going in or out, are open."
Ashraf, who was also a former BCB director, said that he wants Bangladesh to have back-up players ready, touching upon the repeated changes to the batting order in the ODI World Cup last year. He said that both senior and junior cricketers must have a clear pathway. "We will definitely select teams according to opposition and conditions, but I also want to use data for our work. I want to keep an eye on load-management and injury-management and consider players' age. A player must go at some point, so we have to ensure a clear pathway.
"I have observed that some players travel with the team, but they don't get to play. We have to monitor those players and find out why they didn't get to play. We will form the best eleven or twelve, and then have three more players.
"I want to have a clear concept about the batting order with my captain and coach. We have seen a lot of ups and downs in some places. If a player is not successful, we must have another player ready to take his place. We want players to be active in domestic cricket too," he said.
Ashraf was also asked if he is ready for the social media backlash that now comes with the territory of being a Bangladesh selector. "Minhajul Abedin Nannu and Habibul Bashar congratulated me immediately after I was appointed in this role," he replied. "When I played domestic cricket with Nannu, we played in front of big crowds. We were abused either way; either by our own fans when we lost, or by opposition fans when we won. Cricket is all about pressure, from opposition bowling, run target, media, etc. If we have a clear conscious, it will be okay."
Ashraf was conscious of his new responsibilities and outlined his ambitions going forward. "I have had a few proposals to work with the board after Covid. My mother was sick at that time so I didn't take those up. Many of you know that I was a board director. I have also represented Bangladesh in five ICC meetings during the caretaker government in 2007.
"It is a completely different responsibility now. I am under the payroll. I was warmly welcomed to this post which I want to be equal to how a constitutionally-elected board director gets. It opened the door for me to become the selection committee chairman."

Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent. @isam84