Selectors expect a great World Cup amid selection controversies

Chief selector Minhazul Abedin and his two associates Habibul Bashar and Abdur Razzaque at the press conference on TuesdayShamsul Haque

It was the most anticipated press conference in Bangladesh cricket in years. Bangladesh selectors had the tough job of announcing the squad for the World Cup, and the whole nation was eagerly anticipating it.

The 15-man squad, however, was revealed in a ‘modern’ way, as it was announced through a Facebook post where players showed their jerseys and asked good luck from the countrymen.

But the job, nevertheless, got easy as chief selector Minhazul Abedin and his two associates - Habibul Bashar and Abdur Razzaque - had to face a heated press conference where awed journalists threw question after question.

Incredibly, it was all about the exclusion of experienced Tamim Iqbal and the rationales behind. The rumours were rife over the last 24 hours that team captain Shakib al Hasan threatened to quit if ‘half fit’ Tamim, his once ‘best friend’, is included in the team. Many claimed that coach Chandika Hathurusingha also showed dissent to the board president.

With the barrage of questions from the newspersons and ducking of Minhazul, one of the finest batters in his era, made the press conference look like the first hour of the opening day of a Test match in England. To be honest, Minhazul was fantastic, leaving everything like an opener and his colleagues did not also have to do a lot.

And none even asked the most basic question- what is your target in the World Cup? - apart from this reporter who rushed outside the room at the end of the press conference.

“Champions, what else,” answered an ever-smiling Bashar, who seemed relaxed after a tough bout. The very next moment, however, he came to reality and said, "We will do very well.”

“Many may think we have a weak team. But I believe this is a very good side, and I tell you what, whatever will be the results, as it is tough to predict, but we will give every team a hard run for their money,” said a determined looking Bashar, a former captain who was known for his gritty batting.

Minhazul also finished his press conference with high hopes telling they have full support to the 15-men whom they selected to carry the drape of the country.

“We are confident the players we selected will represent our golden Bangladesh and I hope everyone will look at it in that way. Support them in that way. And please don’t bring any negative thinking, honestly support the club you will see the team will bring great results to home.”

But Minhazul did not take the sole responsibility of selecting the squad as the recurrent theme of the presser was that the squad was selected through a consensus of team management that includes the captain, coach, selectors and the medical staff.

Minhazul informed that the decision of dropping Tamim came in that very process.

“You see, there are some injuries which you cannot risk. The team management will be in trouble. You see, he played the first match against New Zealand, played the second match but had to give him a rest in the final match,” said the chief selector.

Habibul echoed him and said they waited till the 11th hour for Tamim, whom he labelled one of the best players, but in the end, they had to take the tough decision considering medical situation.

It was asked whether a half-fit Tamim would be better than a full-fit yet out of form and inexperienced player, and the selectors boldly said they keep their faith on young Tanzid Hasan who impressed them while playing for HP and emerging teams. They also hoped the young batter would flourish on the big stage like the World Cup.

Talking about the experience, although it was an axe for Tamim but another seasoned campaigner Mahmudullah was embraced to play yet another bonanza otherwise called World Cup.

Minhazul, who repeatedly answered that they are not bound to disclose what they discussed between them while selecting and their long-term plan ahead of the tournament, said they used different series to test different players and the performance of Mahmudullah in the New Zealand series satisfied them.

Surely, a team selection can never satisfy everyone, but the big question now is, can these 15 men justify the team management?