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         Volume 11 |Issue 22| June 01, 2012 |


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A Pace-less Attack

Bishwajit Roy

Talents like Mashrafe Bin Mortaza's cannot be created or inculcated; they are born with a special spark. His courage and dedication cannot be matched, not only because of his on-field performance but also due to the way he has been consistently battling injuries ever since he made his debut in international cricket. That the domestic system in Bangladesh doesn't encourage youngsters to take on the hard job of pace bowling is no surprise. In such circumstances, the 'Narail Express's ' rise as a successful pace bowler must be appreciated.

You may not be able to create a pace bowler of Mashrafe's calibre but a good system can produce quality fast bowlers. Unfortunately, however, Bangladesh has a dearth of quality pace bowlers and this is the most problematic area for selectors. Constant injuries tend to make the problem worse.

The long absence of Mashrafe due to injury weakened the Bangladesh pace attack for a significant period but the arrival of Shafiul Islam and Rubel Hossain provided some relief. However, the shoulder-injury of Rubel, who had improved a lot in recent times was a huge blow for the Akram Khan-led committee. The bleak picture forced the selectors to advise the concerned authorities and create a pool of pace bowling talent with a long-term view, to make sure that there are enough pace bowlers in the pipeline.

The Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) took the initiative as per the advice of the selectors. Pacers have always been injury-prone, so the authorities must ensure that there are quality back-up options.

Bangladesh discovered pacers like Rubel Hossain and Shafiul Islam through programmes like Grameenphone Pacer Hunt or Pink City Talent Hunt and the latest initiatives may better the current situation.

So, why do we lack quality pace bowlers in the country? The answer is simple: our system discourages pace bowling. You can hardly expect emerging players to be pace bowlers when pitches all over the country are unresponsive to that type of bowling and when teams at every level always rely on their spinners. As a result, there is a huge pool of slow-left arm bowlers in the pipeline, and national pace bowlers struggle to get into teams in the domestic circuit.

Former national captain Faruque Ahmed experienced this dire state during his tenure as chief selector and the current chief selector Akram Khan faces the same problem today. Both have a common view about the lack of pace bowlers in the country; they firmly believe that the BCB must go in deep and change the current culture, which only encourages the slower bowlers.

“Why would one want to be a pace bowler in this country? There is nothing which can encourage someone to become a pacer. You may get a pace bowler like Mashrafe by chance but to keep the pipeline running with quality options, you must do something to make youngsters think that they can take on the hard job,” says Faruque Ahmed.

Can Bangladesh find another pacer like Mashrafe Bin Mortuza ? Photos: Star File

“It's an age-old problem. We never made the wickets in favour of pace bowlers and that's the reason pacers always struggle to get teams in domestic cricket. Special programmes like the Grameenphone Pacer Hunt are not permanent solutions. Rather we should introduce a culture where pace bowlers get the opportunity and a real platform. We can at least provide pace-friendly wickets in the longer-version of the game, which may change the scenario,” he adds.

The former captain also believes that Bangladesh cricket is in a crisis because of the way the development programme is running under the present cricket authorities.

Shafiul Islam was the go-to bowler in the absence of Mashrafe.

“The recent result of the Under-15 team against the visiting CAB Under-15 team gave enough evidence of how badly our development programme is running. If I am not wrong we dominated against CAB Under-15 for the last decade. So, the crisis is not only with pace bowling,
rather we are really in trouble with our development system. We may suffer in the future for today's failures,” he opines.

Akram echoes the sentiment regarding lack of pace bowlers in the country.

“Everybody wants to be a spinner because it ensures that they have a career. You should be nursing the pace bowlers if you want to build them properly,” said Akram.

“Mashrafe is an icon and a special talent, you can't create a Mashrafe but what you can do is that you can provide enough opportunities so that becoming a pace bowler becomes an attractive prospect. If you think about our total cricketing system we must consider oursleves lucky to have pacers like Mashrafe, Shafiul and Rubel,” adds the Chittagonian.

One wonders as to how long it'll take for the BCB to realise their faults and change the system.


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