The Daily Star, Bangladesh carries daily news and opinion from Bangladesh and around the world.

Selectors eat their own words

Syed Ashfaqul Haque

May 06, 1998

Selectors at the Bangladesh Cricket Control Board (BCB) sadly got back to Square One on April 27,

prematurely calling off their 10-month-old venture to form a team of the future when they announced squad for the Pepsi Cup triangular tournament, starting in India from May 14.

Instead of injecting fresh blood into the team, the selection committee, led by Lutfar Rahman, fell back upon the old guards, who were once dropped from the national team on the grounds of poor performance, lack of motivation and conviction following the ICC Trophy triumph of Bangladesh last year. Evidently, the panel of five selectors did not bother much about the hopes of the aspiring young cricketers in the reckoning who were raring for a fair crack of the whip at the top level of the game. They tried to justify this regression by saying that the experiment with the youngsters had 'virtually backfired'.

While making the official announcement in front of newsmen, former national captain Shafiqul Haq Hira, now a senior member in the selection team of BCB, stepped forward to dampen the spirit of numerous young players. When the sports buffs were singing praises of the BCB for its initiative to induct young talents alongside experienced and consistent peers of the national team, the former wicketkeeper, oblivious to the reality, went to say, ``We have experimented too early and it has hardly helped our cause.''

Earlier, BCB had made a big fuss over having woken up to the necessity of replacing the old guards with new faces. Shafiqul himself was a 'wise' member of the selection panel when the decision was taken to ring in changes. But few months down the line when it appeared that at last Bangladesh cricket was heading for a goal after having experienced a few ups and downs, Shafiqul and his peers seem to be at an altogether different ball game.

If it was a wrong decision, can the players be blamed for that? Was not it a policy failure? Instead of passing the buck on new kids, they should take the blame on their own shoulders and then hand over the responsibility to someone eligible.

Shafiqul justified their decision by saying, ``It's not that we have picked them by name, but we've taken those who performed well in recent past.''

The so-called recent performances of some of the players however tell a different tale. Top two run-getters in the recently concluded domestic league, Shahriar Hossain and Azam Iqbal, failed to make it to the India-bound final fourteen. Opener Shahriar scored 632 runs at an average of 42.13 in ten matches while opener Azam Iqbal, who was a symbol of consistency for his team Abahani Krira Chakra, averaged 38.82 after scoring 538 runs in 16 matches. Whereas 36-year-old opener Athar Ali Khan, who scored only 170 in 10 matches at an average of 18.88, found no difficulty to make an unjustly return to the top flight.

Unlike Minhazul Abedin, who roared back to the team demonstrating a series of ripping performances after being ignored by the selectors, Athar failed miserably to revive his pristine touch with the willow since he was left out of the Independence Cup team of Bangladesh.

On the other hand, soon after his exclusion from the national team for the first time in his decade-long career, Minhaz vowed to the sympathetic journalists that he would certainly return to the team on the strength of his performance. The bat of the gutsy Chittagonian did talk in the domestic league and in Pakistan tour of the national team to silence even his worst critic. Once dubbed as the only professional player in Bangladesh by Mohindar Amarnath, the former Indian coach, Minhaz scored 528 runs in 14 matches at an average of 48.00.

There would not have been any controversy if some of the other recalled veterans could take a leaf out of Minhaz's book. Truth is they did not. And selectors did not seem to mind bringing that hated dictum of two rules for one game into play.

BCB's target should be to transform Bangladesh as a force to reckon with in one-day cricket within the next few years. It would not be possible if it does not cash in on the great enthusiasm for the game stirred around the country since the Kuala Lumpur conquest. The policy to count on new guns may not give fruits instantly. But if we persist with the youngsters it would not be long before we see them delivering goods. And if we don't do it right now, the next century may see us fiddling and fielding with the same old combination.

Source: The Daily Star, Bangladesh
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Date-stamped : 07 May1998 - 10:26