Why is Bangladesh's batting on the decline in Tests?

With the first-choice players and the incumbents struggling, the BCB is forced to look at the next set of cricketers

Mohammad Isam
Mohammad Isam
Kyle Mayers traps Nurul Hasan, who was struck on the pads after not offering a shot, West Indies vs Bangladesh, 1st Test, Antigua, Day 1, June 16, 2022

Bangladesh have been subject to multiple collapses recently  •  AFP/Getty Images

Bangladesh currently have the worst-performing Test batting line-up in 2022. It is an unenviable position for those in Bangladeshi cricket, and those working in the background are particularly concerned about the lack of runs among the top four batters.
What's the reason behind their lack of runs? Mominul Haque's dreadful form and Najmul Hossain Shanto taking so long to live up to his promise are just a couple of concerns.
BCB's cricket operations chairman, Jalal Yunus, said that the performance of the Test side is the "main worry" and the board is thinking of offering financial incentives to those who focus more on Tests. He expressed surprise over Mominul and Shanto's dipping forms as they spend a good amount of time in training throughout the year.
"We are planning to increase [the] match fees for the Test team," Yunus told ESPNcricinfo. "We want the players to take Tests more seriously. If we see dedication towards Tests, we will give more incentives to the players. We are trying our best to facilitate them so it is tough to understand why the Test team isn't doing well.
"Our main worry is the Test side. It is surprising that players like Mominul and Shanto could not be stable. They aren't supposed to go in decline. They are supposed to get much better. It is just the start of their career. We are expecting their service for the next five years. They work with our coaching staff, apart from training under local coaches like Salahuddin, Fahim and Babul. We fail to understand how they can have technical problems when they are always sorting out their technical side with these coaches."
Yunus, who took over from Akram Khan as the cricket operations chief last December, said that the inability of players like Imrul Kayes, Soumya Sarkar and Mohammad Mithun to establish themselves as solid Test players forced the BCB's decision makers to look at options from the Under-19 side.
"We tried Mithun and brought back Mosaddek [Hossain]," Yunus said. "They should have established themselves in the Test side. These two and Soumya Sarkar were among the next batch, the ones who were originally supposed to [be] back-up[s] for Shakib [Al Hasan] and Tamim [Iqbal].
"We recalled [Anamul Haque] Bijoy for his superb domestic performance in the last couple of seasons but even he should have established himself long ago. Imrul Kayes should have continued in the national team. It is quite alarming that they couldn't make themselves stable at the highest level. We had to fast-track someone like [Mahmudul Hasan] Joy who should have come to this stage much later."
The BCB has also decided to send the Bangladesh A side for a tour to the West Indies next month. It will be the team's first series in nearly three years. Their last tour was to Sri Lanka in September-October 2019, while the Bangladesh Emerging team - comprising predominantly Under-23 cricketers - last played a series in March 2021.
The absence of A-team tours, as well as first-class cricket and other representative camps, in the last two years was due to the pandemic. The BCB's decision makers believe that the younger lot who will be eventually considered for the next batch in Tests should be given at least another couple of years to prepare themselves.
"The uncapped players - who we can call our next batch at the international level - need another couple of years to be fully prepared," a board official, who requested anonymity said. Shahadat [Hossain] Dipu and Towhid Hridoy are in the High Performance (HP) squad, but we need at least a year to prepare him before taking them to the next level. Ideally, we should have spent another year working on someone like Joy in the High Performance or Bangladesh Tigers level."
At the domestic level, newcomer Amite Hasan's 912 runs at 60.80 in both the first-class competitions in the 2021-22 season earned him the selectors' attention. He is training with the HP side at the moment.
The selectors ended up picking Anamul Haque in all three formats for the West Indies for his sheer run-making: he broke the world record for most runs in a one-day tournament, apart from being the top scorer in first-class cricket in the last five years.
Since November 2019, Saif Hassan, Yasir Ali, Joy and Mohammad Naim are the only batters who have been handed Test debuts. Saif and Naim are no longer in contention while Yasir, currently suffering a back injury, is preferred as an understudy to middle-order stalwarts Shakib and Mushfiqur.
Yasir, and to some extent Nurul Hasan, have patiently waited for their turns after going through several tours only as squad members. They finally got their chances, while the likes of Fazle Mahmud, who went to New Zealand and did not get a game, were dropped. Anamul may return to the Test side if the team management decides to give Shanto a break.
It all equates to the lack of resources in Test batting in Bangladesh. Now that the incumbents are failing, the BCB is forced to look at the next set of cricketers.

Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent. @isam84