Favourites tag going to be hard on new lot – Bangladesh Under-19 coach
Under-19 World Cup champions Bangladesh began their preparation to defend the title with the recently-concluded home series against Afghanistan at home. The hosts clinched the five-match one-day series by a 3-2 margin and lost the one-off Youth Test. Bangladesh head coach Naved Newaz, who guided them to their maiden ICC trophy in 2018, spoke at length with Cricbuzz regarding the challenges moving forward.
Have you achieved the target you had set for the series?
We formed a squad of 19 players before the series and we had a lot of doubts in our mind regarding who would fit in where. Obviously, playing few matches among us, we knew that these players are going to be playing in these positions but overall we didn’t know how these players are going to respond in these positions in the youth international atmosphere. So we wanted to try it out and we wanted to play all the 19 players during the series. So that is what we did during the five one-day series and we used up about 16 players in the five games. We have been rotating quite a lot after the first three matches I would say. In the first three matches, until we won the series, we weren’t rotating as much. But after we won the series, we wanted to try out the rest of the players and we started rotating the rest of the players on their own.
About the one-day series, I’m happy that the boys managed to win the series, but there are a lot of areas, that I’d admit, that there are a lot of shortcomings that we need to prepare and the boys need to put their performances up in the coming months. I mean, they don’t have much time, as they have only four months before the world cup in which we need to rectify these areas and figure out how we’re going to handle it in the best way. I’m a bit concerned about the batting of our boys because it has nothing to do with the technical issues or anything like that, it’s just that in cricket sometimes batting becomes the hardest skill to acquire. A lot of mental skill come to play in batting which makes it hard, because of the fact that the batsman can get out only once. These boys make a lot of mistakes in the middle, so that’s something which will improve with the experience. I believe in, the coming months, looking at our program, I feel the boys will have the opportunity to improve.
Why do you think they didn’t do well in the longer format?
If you go to the Test match, I think the main area which paved the way for the loss in the Test match was our batting. So if you analyze, most of our batsmen got starts more than Afghanistan, and if you look at the second inning of Afghanistan, only two of their batsmen reached scores of over 20. If you analyze our batting, four of our batsmen reached more than 20 runs and in the second inning, five of our batsmen reached more than 20 runs. But the difference was our batsmen weren’t able to play longer innings. They were getting out in 30s, 60-70, like that, whereas for Afghanistan, out of the two batsmen who managed to cross the mark of 20 runs, one guy got a hundred facing 345 balls, and the other guy got 66 facing 168 balls. That was the main difference in this game. Afghanistan managed to have a lead of 120 runs in the first innings, and batting the third inning on that wicket was not an easy task for us and the 110-runs lead ended up to be not enough.
If you look at the bigger picture of the series, I think we managed to look at the 19 players whom we had in mind, out of which we needed to select 15 boys moving forward to the World Cup. We got an opportunity to have a good look at them and figure out what are the areas that they need to work on and some areas that we need to figure out that certain players don’t sort of fit into the roles that we are thinking that they would fit in. Moving forward, I think we can make those decisions and move forward. We need to be patient with them because we got to keep in mind that all of them played their first internationals. Most of them, except for Nawrose Nabil. They need time in the middle because with the pandemic there was little training and they haven’t had much cricket especially the youth cricket in Bangladesh. So there were so many factors that we need to take into consideration, so we need to be patient with these boys, and give them time to learn, and give them time to come out with their performances. That’s it, about the series.
How much did the pandemic hamper your preparations?
Preparation-wise, we had a time limit to prepare for the series, like two weeks to prepare for everything, and it was not ideal, because most of our camps since January got cancelled. We were able to complete only one camp in Sylhet, which was in January, and after that, it was a big tough, understandably. It’s not an excuse at all, but it was tough for the boys to come in, and go out, come back, go out, and during the covid-19 period, I think it’s very difficult even in their homes for them to move for training and things like that becomes very hard. So that’s the reality, and I think we need to face it.
Can you tell us something about batsman Aich Molla? He scored a century and looked quite solid?
About Aich (Molla), yeah obviously he is one of our key players in the team and although it wasn’t significantly shown, I believe there are few other players also who are capable to do the same thing. But Aich, I always believed is one of our best players who can carry out a lot of weight in the team. How I operate is that, certain players have certain roles in the team, and at the end of the day, it’s a team effort. At the end of the day, if the team can contribute together, not putting on a lot pressure on a single person. It is very hard at this age for most of the players as they have to cover for too many players. So my philosophy or how I operate is that everyone in the team needs to contribute, so if we have six-seven potential batters in the team, they all have a role in the team, and they all need to contribute to the team, Of course, immaterial whether are as good as Aich Molla, or whether they are not, I strongly believe that we have a decent batting unit, which within the given time, should be able to manage up to a certain extent.
From the bowling perspective, are you satisfied with your bowling unit’s performance?
I think we have four or five good fast bowlers mainly, Ripon Mondol and Ashikur Rahman. They are the lead bowlers in our unit, and they have done reasonably well, if you look at the one-day series, and even in the Test series, the fast bowlers have bowled quite well, but these conditions I think isn’t the best conditions to look at the fast bowlers, and make a judgment, because the wickets were too slow and low, and there was minimal help for our fast bowlers. If you look at the spin department, Noyon is the main spinner that we have in the team this year, he is a left-arm spinner, and we have another couple of spinners to support.
Apart from that, the main advantage that I can see is that we have a couple of batsmen that can bowl, like if we look at Mehrob Ohin, and boys like Aich Molla, who can bowl off-spin, and also Ariful can bowl off-spin. They all bowled through the series, and achieved success. Within those three players, I think we can make up at least 15-20 overs, which is a massive advantage, and that gives us the option of playing with a different combination, like then we don’t need to play an all-rounder at number seven, and we can play a pure batsman at number seven, or the wicket-keeper at number seven. That gives us that luxury of playing an extra batter and going with four bowlers because of the massive option we have in this area. So, the bowling is very good, but believe that we’ve got enough bowling to sustain, but then again you got to understand that these boys are young, and within a short period, it is very difficult for them to develop at such in a rapid speed, we also have to give them some time for development.
Don’t you feel the tag of defending champions can be a burden on the new lot?
I think having the tag of being the defending champions is going to be very hard on these boys, because you got to understand, that it’s a totally new unit, and it’s not the last year’s world cup team, that is playing this year. It’s a totally new unit, and they’ve lost a lot of time, and finally, they’ve got three or four months to prepare, and having that tag on becoming champions in another world cup is going to be mentally very tough for them. Even going to the last year’s world cup, we never even talked about winning the world cup, we always spoke about getting the process right, we wanted to do the little things right so that the end result would be better for us. That’s what we have been doing, we are trying to break things into small pieces, and sort of look at the bigger picture, not looking up so much at the outcome but looking at the roles of each player and see how well is he performing in his role. By that way, I think it gives us an understanding of how much he can improve. In that way, we’re looking at all 15 players, to see if they can improve even 10% on their personal performance, I think they will add to be a valuable impact on the team, and that’s what I strongly believe, and that has brought us success as well.
Are you happy with the overall performance of the squad?
If the perspective of the series is to entirely win, then we could’ve played with the less number of players. We have picked the best 18 players in Bangladesh, the best 18 players in the country, and philosophy-wise, it doesn’t make sense for you to pick a squad of 18, and not play them. So we had to sort of choose these options, and sometimes when you do that, it gives us weak links, from here and there, because their combination entirely keeps changing all the time and then it becomes a bit difficult for the players to do what they have been doing, through the series.
Obviously, I’m a bit disappointed with after winning the series, how the momentum shifted, but that is something an area for us to work with, and it’s good to figure that out early on in our campaign so that we can put a beak in front of that and make sure that this is something that exists in our players, and there is something we need to push and get rid of.
You will be playing Sri Lanka in October for a five-match one-day series and there are other series lined up apart from the Asia Cup. Do you feel it will be enough to prepare them?
The boys will have the opportunity to play a few more games, in Sri Lanka, India, Asia Cup, before the world cup, and obviously, that will pave the way to sort of, improve the mental ability and the mental skills of the players. Getting used to the youth one-day format and the pressures that come within the game, so we can only be patient with them. We know we have picked the best 15-16 players in the country and we have to be patient and we have to keep helping the players to improve and hoping that they will come out well.