This relief has also given them an opportunity to do some experiments in the dead rubber third match. After winning the second ODI, captain Tamim Iqbal and coach Russell Domingo had said, with the future in mind, they want to try out some players from the bench. But due to the condition and team combination, the scope of the experiment will be very limited.
Coach Russell Domingo gave this hint during the press conference at the team hotel on Friday, “I would’ve liked it if we could give Bijoy (Anamul Haque) a match. He would’ve been another right-hander in our batting lineup, but what we need is a left-handed batsman. So, we won’t be making as many changes as we had said that day. Bijoy hasn’t played any matches in the ODI series. But he is a right-hander, we want to include as many left-handers as possible in the lineup.”
This means that top-order batsman Anamul Haque, who earned a place in the team for the West Indies tour on the back of his performance in the Dhaka Premier League, will return home without playing an ODI. Domingo also feels sympathy for him. To console Anamul, he brought up the example of Yasir Ali who had also accompanied the team for many series without getting a match. He had to return home without playing a match in the West Indies series owing to an injury but is still considered a regular member of the team.
If Anamul doesn’t play, only one change is likely to be made – pacer Shoriful Islam could be dropped for left-arm spinner Taijul Islam. Domingo also thinks that it would be better to play an extra left-arm spinner in this match.
It was a little surprising to see a U-turn like this about the team composition for the last ODI in just one day’s time. Anamul hasn’t become a right-hander all of a sudden and the wicket of the first two ODIs also assisted the spinners.
Taijul’s inclusion makes sense, but Anamul has been a bit hard done. A cricketer who returned to the national side after almost eight years owing to his performance in the 50-over format is not getting an opportunity to play in that very format! So what was the point of the coach and captain talking in chorus after the second ODI about testing the players from the bench?
Domingo held his press conference in the team hotel. The players also spent the day before the final ODI at the hotel. The outfield of the Providence Stadium was wet with early morning rain, so the players chose not to train before the dead rubber match. The team meeting was also held in the hotel, after the meeting members of the coaching staff personally spoke with cricketers.
The West Indies camp has seemingly forgotten about their series wins in Tests and T20s and are analysing the defeats in the ODIs. But for Bangladesh, the situation is the exact opposite, because the cricketers and the Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) had already presumed that the team will play well in ODIs and they can just play the Tests and T20s for the sake of it. There is no visible attempt to improve in these formats, that’s why this is being said.
It’s not that they are trying heart and soul to improve in ODIs too. But thanks to the DPL, the players at least get some training in 50-over cricket. The extra money, competition between the DPL clubs and the involvement of BCB directors with all the clubs entices every player to take part in the league. After the series win, when skipper Tamim Iqbal was asked why Bangladesh has been doing well in ODIs, he also pointed to this as a big reason.
Meanwhile, the lone T20 franchise league doesn’t happen consistently every year and when it does there are always many problems accompanying it. Many members of the Test team don’t play or don’t get the opportunity to take part in domestic first-class matches.
These charges and complaints have been lodged again and again to a point where it sounds clichéd. But the fact remains, one can’t expect to harvest fruits without first watering the tree.
*This report appeared in the print and online edition of Prothom Alo and has been rewritten for the English edition by Ashfaq-Ul-Alam Niloy