Challenges, more than opportunities, will headline Rhodes's Bangladesh reign



Despite the humbling they received in Antigua, the upside for Bangladesh is that they are one noteworthy performance away from shunning away all their critics. © AFP

It wasn’t exactly the kind of start a new head coach could wish for. In fact, it was closer to the nightmare everyone would hope to avoid. Bangladesh were bulldozed by an innings and 219 runs in the opening Test in Antigua, with the batsmen failing horribly in both innings.

Bangladesh’s new head coach Steve Rhodes got a reality check as his charges demonstrated below-average skill and temperament during the seven sessions of play in Antigua. Cricbuzz learnt that Rhodes called Bangladesh Cricket Board president Nazmul Hasan to express his disappointment and that prompted the Hasan to call for an impromptu meeting with some of the board’s directors on Saturday(July 7).

The batting debacle in both innings coupled by the bowlers’ inability to perform as per the requirement on a lively surface and some fielding lapses were clear indications that there are several areas that needed to be addressed by the Englishman.

Despite the humbling they received in Antigua, the upside for Bangladesh is that they are one noteworthy performance away from shunning away all their critics. Bangladesh have the tendency to perform well after a sub-par performance, especially overseas. However, if they want to do well abroad, which they must soon considering they have 24 Tests in foreign conditions according to the Future Tours Program.

Considering the unpredictable nature of the team, it is quite difficult to write them [batmen in particular] off at any stage but Bangladesh’s glaring weak point in seaming conditions remains. Asian team generally tend to struggle in seaming conditions, but it is not something that can be rectified with the right kind of preparation.

Playing their natural game may have a nice ring to it, but it’s equally, if not more, important to curb that game if it’s not really working out. Kemar Roach and Shannon Gabriel did bowl fantastically well in the first Test, but the batsmen too did not help themselves by sticking to the ‘will play the natural game’ formula. There are phases when the need of the hour is to survive, and a compact defense and confidently leaving the ball become vital aspects of the game. Most Bangladesh batsmen were dismissed in their attempt to try something instead of giving a bowler who was bowling well his due respect. That not only translates into putting a price on your wicket, but also ensures the bowlers’ effectiveness starts to wane gradually.

Rhodes’s primary concern will be how he can get his batsmen to think on those lines. If Rhodes, as expected, is available during the domestic season, he will need to make sure that his charges are available to play in the first-class tournament, and stick to a plan.

Batting troubles aside, Rhodes will also need to come up with a formula that can help bowlers become more effective on seam-friendly wickets. The vast experience that he gathered during his stint at Worcestershire will be invaluable in this regard.

Lack of life in wickets that is used to play domestic cricket often becomes the topic of discussion after every failure for Bangladesh, but at the same time we are yet produce pace bowlers who have the ability to turn a game consistenly.

The sooner Bangladesh move on from their affinity for spinners, the better things will turn out for them in foreign conditions.The Bangladesh pacers perhaps lack an attacking mindset, and are pre-tuned to bowling defensively from the outset. Bowling coach Courtney Walsh has set up camps and tried to turn the pacers available into bigger assets, but that is yet to bear fruit.

Bangladesh will do well to produce some wickets that can enable the players to get some exposure to such conditions, but that is easier said than done. The challenges being laid out, Bangladesh will believe they have the right man for the job in Rhodes. His exposure and knowledge should help him fine-tune the players into better players in testing conditions. There is great scope for Bangladesh to look to the future, and with hope. Jamaica, they will hope, will be the starting point.

© Cricbuzz


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