Hindustan Surkhiyan Desk:The New Year held hopes of a fresh beginning following the debacle on the tour of South Africa but it ultimately turned into tumult and actually reminded of Bangladesh cricket’s horror year of 2014.
The post-Chandika Hathurusingha era that began with authoritative wins against Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe eventually fell to pieces, with the rot starting with the defeat against Sri Lanka in the tri-series match and the loss of ace all-rounder Shakib Al Hasan due to injury in the final.
It was not only the heartbreak of the tri-series; there were pathetic capitulations in the second Test and awful defeats in the T20I series. The manner in which Bangladesh performed all through against a rejuvenated Sri Lanka under Hathurusingha has come as a big warning about whether the Tigers are going to face the same fate that they suffered in 2014 when they won two (against Afghanistan and Nepal) and lost 22 matches across formats in the first 10 months.
The ominous signs are however there as the team has looked clueless. Many can still remember what had happened in that fateful year of 2014 as the Tigers lost the Test series against Sri Lanka, which was followed by a 3-0 loss in the ODIs, and suffered losses at the hands of India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Afghanistan in the Asia Cup. They even lost to Hong Kong in a winless World T20 at home. More importantly, disciplinary issues — especially surrounding Shakib — had completely dented the confidence of the team.
After the debacle in South Africa in October last year and the first home assignments this year, the questions moved up around the corner whether the Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) will be able to fix the problem and steady the ship by taking honest measures to avoid another 2014. Will the board high-ups be sincere enough to indentify the problems behind the debacles?
What went wrong on and off the field during the forlorn tour of South Africa was not identified. Now, if the board tries sweep the home debacle under the carpet too, it may have a catastrophic effect on the future progress of the Bangladesh team. ‘It’s just a bad series’ will not be a good answer when there are some serious questions over the brainless selections, poor planning of the team management and poor execution from the players in the middle. There has been a belief that only a vibrant Bangladesh dressing room can ensure a vibrant team on the field.
It is useful to remember how the honest approach from Hathurusingha and Mashrafe Bin Mortaza brought the team-first attitude at the end of 2014 and injected enthusiasm, making all players hungry and eager to bring the team back on track after a dreadful year.
In terms of courage, planning for the team and unearthing the opposition’s weaknesses, Bangladesh made a big statement by establishing their credentials as a strong team at home after a maiden run to the World Cup quarterfinal, but it all went missing in the just gone series as well as their previous series in South Africa.
The board probably needs to shelve the ‘senior players are the coaches’ concept and instead rethink the role of former national skipper Khaled Mahmud — technical director for the concluded series — and most importantly the role of the current selection panel to at least ensure that the best is brought out from the best players in Bangladesh.
A recovery like that staged in late 2014 and 2015 will need the right people in the right places and if some initiative can be taken before the Tigers’ next assignment in the Nidahas Trophy, the T20 tri-series involving India and hosts Sri Lanka from March 6, it will definitely provide a good signal.