Up to the task

DHAKA – Despite many of their senior players not performing in recent internationals, Bangladesh might be sticking to type when the West Indies arrive there in a few days. The West Indies fly out of the Caribbean tomorrow for the two-Test series that start November 13.

Bangladesh national selectors are expected to pick a 15-man squad on November 6, a day after the National Cricket League’s second game ends.

“Eighty per cent of the team is confirmed, so we will watch the NCL matches starting on November 2 and name the team the day after this round ends,” chief selector Akram Khan said. “We will look at some players as we will pick options for some positions. Our job is to select the fifteen and the team management picks the XI.”

Shakib Al Hasan will be Bangladesh’s main threat with both bat and ball.

Interim coach Shane Jurgensen however believes that several places are up for grabs as Bangladesh will be playing Test matches after eleven months, a period which has seen some of those regular players losing spots due to injury, poor form or even, in one case, controversy.

“I think there is a possibility for a number of players to make their way into the team. We haven’t played Test cricket for a long time. So it might be a tough call for the selectors. But at the moment I can’t comment on selection,” Jurgensen, who has been Bangladesh’s bowling coach before being thrust into the bigger role of head coach after Richard Pybus’ resignation, said.

He said he firmly believes match practice is the best way to prepare for a Test series, and the Bangladesh players have some scheduled ahead of the West Indies series instead of the long preparatory camp in Mirpur. “We are doing the best preparation we can by playing four-day cricket. We played a game in the [first-class National Cricket] league and we have seen some very good performances in the first game.

“Some young guys played very well and their names might be up for selection as well. That’s what we want to see. There are more four-day games coming up. They will play two four-day games and then they’ll play another game (a three-day warm-up match) against West Indies. So they’ll basically be playing three games in the long version. That’s good enough preparation for me.”

Consequently the selection panel’s plate should be full: a new opener, a stable No. 4, a second spinner and a revamped pace attack may be on the cards.

The selectors wouldn’t be too stressed if they go in for 12 players who have been regulars in the Bangladesh line-up since the Asia Cup and the Twenty20s from June. But some of those players have delivered sub-par performances, which should make Akram look for new faces.

The difference in quality of domestic cricket in the country and the international game, however, prevents a new face from making it directly to the Test team. More importantly, the lack of Test cricket doesn’t allow selectors much of a yardstick by which to judge how – and if – the players have progressed.

Hence, Tamim Iqbal is likely to open with either Imrul Kayes or Nazimuddin since both have featured in Bangladesh’s five Tests in the 2011-12 season. At the moment the call is tilted slightly towards a return for Kayes, who was dropped for the Pakistan Tests. Nazimuddin’s weak Asia Cup performance would play a part in Kayes’ return, and since he was picked specifically to balance Tamim’s aggression, a continuation wouldn’t be unlikely. (windiescricket)

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