Vol. 5 Num 111 Mon. September 13, 2004  

ICC Champions Trophy, Englad 2004
Too many questions

Bangladesh think-tank has a history of keeping everybody guessing when it comes to choosing a team. And more often then not when they announce the final roster nobody gets it right.

The funny selection policy became a talking point at Edgbaston on Sunday when coach Dav Whatmore surprisingly dropped experienced all-rounder Khaled Mahmud for the match against South Africa.

There were whisperings on Saturday night that the former Bangladesh captain might be overlooked in favour of fellow all-rounder Mushfiqur Rahman, who according to many is the coach's first choice.

But the manner in which Mushfiq was picked ahead of Mahmud certainly raises questions about the selection policy.

Mahmud has been in good touch with the ball during the build up games and more importantly he has got the highest batting average (24) among the Bangladeshi cricketers in matches against South Africa. Mushfiq on the other hand played only half a match during the six warm-up games before being named for the Tigers' ICC Cham-pions Trophy opener without knowing whether he had fully recovered from a groin injury he had been carrying for a long time.

May be Mahmud's omission mattered little in the end since the batting was again in shambles, but the question remains does Bangladesh have a selection policy?

"It is unfortunate that Chacha (Khaled Mahmud) was ultimately dropped. His batting performance might not be as good as one expects from an all-rounder but there was no doubt about his bowling in recent times. Moreover Mahmud is experienced in English conditions," said a member of the Bangladesh team preferring anonymity.

He also said that had Mahmud not missed the practice match against Scotland early this month might have avoided the four-wicket defeat against the ICC associate member nation.

But most of the cricketers termed the practice of announcing the team at the last minute as unnecessary.

"There is no need to keep the players on their toes unless it was absolutely essential. It hardly matters if the team is announced a day before. We should stop the bad practice," said another cricketer.

Whatmore however did not feel the need to answer any questions since he deliberately skipped the post-match briefing.

With him being absent it did not allow journalists to know the reason for batting first on a wicket that experienced rain for the last two days.

Rather he let a young Rajin Saleh, who never addressed such a big audience, to bear the brunt of a hostile press briefing.

"It was management decision to bat if I won the toss. I think the wicket was dry but we played bad shots," said Rajin after Bangladesh was bowled out for 93, their lowest total against South Africa.

When asked why Mushfiq was picked ahead of Mahmud, the new Bangladesh captain again said 'it was also a decision of the management'.

Although Whatmore ducked the briefing there was no escaping from the Bangladeshi journalists as he boarded the team bus. The 50-year-old defended his decisions.

"It was a right combination. But the players failed to play according to my plan," he said without elaborating.

Regarding the nine-wicket defeat Whatmore said: "It can happen because we are in a rebuilding process."

TOP LEVEL DANCE: Nafees Iqbal, the only Bangladesh batsman to stand among the ruins with a solid 40, here gets into an awkward position while negotiating a lifting delivery during the ICC Champions Trophy match against South Africa at Edgbaston yesterday. PHOTO: AFP