After their run to the T20I tri-nation Nidahas Trophy final in Sri Lanka this month, there is a feel-good factor surrounding the Bangladesh team that has not been there since the drawn Test series against Australia at home last September. However, with a cricket-packed lead-up to the 2019 World Cup after the current international break, Khaled Mahmud -- the team manager in Sri Lanka -- identified the inconsistency of the youngsters as a key area to improve upon for Bangladesh.
Their next assignment is a three-ODI series against Afghanistan in June, tentatively scheduled to take place in India. Mahmud, who is also a Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) director and head of the BCB's development committee, was asked if any new players may come in for the upcoming series.
“We haven't sat down and talked about the Afghanistan series,” said Mahmud at the BCB Academy ground in Mirpur where he was overseeing Dhaka Premier League side Abahani's training session in his capacity as coach. “Every series is going to be very challenging and teams will be formed keeping the 2019 World Cup in mind. It's not certain whether there will be any new faces. The team has done well in Sri Lanka, so those players will be there. If needed one or two players may come in.”
Over the past two years, despite the emergence of players like Soumya Sarkar, Sabbir Rahman and Mustafizur Rahman, it is the big five of Shakib Al Hasan, Mushfiqur Rahim, Tamim Iqbal, Mahmudullah Riyad and ODI skipper Mashrafe Bin Mortaza who continue to be the major performers.
“We are very worried about this. [Interim head coach] Courtney Walsh will return in the next three or four days and then maybe we will sit down and chalk out a plan,” said Mahmud. “There is no consistency at all among the youngsters. The juniors have not been able to perform the way the likes of Tamim, Mushfiqur and Riyad have been performing in the last few years. You asked about new players – we are not able to take new players. If Liton [Das], Soumya and Sabbir showed that kind of consistency then we could have rested one or two players; there is a lot of cricket ahead and that is a concern.”
In that respect, Mahmud said that the two-month break from international cricket is a welcome one for the Tigers as they will have a lot of cricket coming up afterwards. “They will be practising. We want them to rest, but that will be active rest. Some days they will run, on others they will come to the gym.”
Another area of concern is that Bangladesh are without a head coach since Chandika Hathurusingha stepped down in November last year. Mahmud could not say one way or another whether BCB president Nazmul Hassan's declaration of a coach by April will come to fruition, but opined that current interim coach Walsh is good enough to do the job full time.
“Courtney is a superb human being and an honest man. He also has 40 years of cricketing experience. He is like a father figure and everyone in the team likes him. Everything considered, he was fantastic in the last series.”