Chief selector Akram Khan is already facing a severe first spell as he prepared to name the Bangladesh team for the forthcoming tour of Zimbabwe.
After the 23-member skills training camp under Sarwar Imran ended yesterday, it was expected that the announcement of the squad will be made today with one new face, all-rounder Nasir Hossain, all set to become the newest Tiger. But Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) could not confirm the exact date of the press conference which would declare the team.
It was learned that BCB chief AHM Mustafa Kamal was displeased at the way the team was given to him just for approval. The delay with the announcement has created speculation that the team selected by Akram & co may not survive and some changes could be made to the final squad. Previously, it was common practice for the board president to approve the team submitted by the selectors.
There has also been confusion since last evening in regards to the submission of the team by the selectors to the BCB president via the cricket operations committee with staffs and directors spawning different versions. One reliable source said the selectors had delivered the signed copy yesterday afternoon while it was also heard that they gave it in the evening. This further highlights the utter lack of coordination in the cricket board.
No matter how it is being dealt with, Akram is facing the same difficulty that Rafiqul Alam had to put up with when outside interference was prevalent when picking teams. It complicates matter given that the new selection panel already have to face on-field intricacies even against a lesser-ranked side.
Though Zimbabwe are returning to Test cricket after six years and the Tigers have enjoyed a huge advantage over their awaiting hosts during this period, Akram with new selectors Minhazul Abedin and Habibul Bashar had a lot more to contend with while selecting the team and it doesn’t only include poor form but also a genuine lack of depth for them to choose from.
Batsmen Imrul Kayes, Mahmudullah Riyad and to some extent Shahriar Nafees and paceman Shafiul Islam have made themselves automatic choices alongside Shakib Al Hasan and Tamim Iqbal though the rest have question marks next to their name as a Test player and some as an ODI player.
Junaed Siddiqui, the left-hander who was persisted with by the previous selection panel, have made a strong case for a return for the Test match. He has worked his way through the tours of South Africa (for Bangladesh A) and the single National Cricket League game he played after being dropped for the Australia series.
Mohammad Ashraful could also find himself back in the national team due to mainly a lack of choices in the No 4 position. He has averaged 11.47 over the last two years in that position but since Rokibul Hasan hasn’t grabbed his chances, the selectors have little choice but to revert back to the faltering Ashraful. Giving Riyad a chance up the order would depend on Shakib though the selectors are averse to giving the all-rounder a promotion.
But all three, (Nafees, Rokibul and Ashraful) could be included in the squad so that the captain and new coach Stuart Law could gauge all the options in their bid to fill up a faltering middle-order.
Riyad, in fact, could be kept at No 8 once again due to the other problem faced by the selectors. With Mashrafe Bin Mortaza (knee) and Shahadat Hossain (toe) injured, Shafiul and Rubel would have to carry the burden and there is serious talk of including a third seamer in the playing eleven at the Harare Sports Club ground and it is likely that Robiul Islam could be picked.
Akram would have wanted to experiment against a weaker opposition but with little preparation, unsatisfactory forms and injuries, it has turned into his first real trial as the chief.
-With The Daily Star input