After being appointed Bangladesh’s new head coach, Steve Rhodes will have to deal with the expectation of quick results, as well as success in the two ICC events in 2019 and 2020. ESPNcricinfo lists out five things he can expect to tackle in the coming two years.
A confidence crisis
Bangladesh’s confidence has taken a hit since their disastrous South Africa tour last year and the even more disappointing home series against Sri Lanka. The two wins over Sri Lanka in the Nidahas Trophy in March helped slightly but it did not mend anything for the long term, which reflected in their T20 series loss to Afghanistan this month.
There isn’t a quick fix to this but Rhodes has to build towards the self-belief the Bangladesh team thrived on in 2015. It will be a lot to do with helping the five senior players get accustomed to his ways. Young players like Mustafizur Rahman, Mosaddek Hossain and Soumya Sarkar need to be challenged as they will face mounting pressure in the coming 12 months leading upto the World Cup.
More away games
One of the main reasons behind Bangladesh’s rise after the 2015 World Cup was because of the number of home games. The comfort of playing in their backyard helped them beat Pakistan, India and South Africa in successive ODI series.
Till the 2019 World Cup, Bangladesh will be playing in the West Indies, India (Asia Cup) and then New Zealand and Ireland next year. According to the new Future Tours Programme seen by ESPNcricinfo, Bangladesh are touring India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Ireland, before the 2020 World T20.
While winning at home is of paramount importance to the short-sighted in the BCB, the players themselves have bought the idea that doing well abroad is important for their overall development.
Working board chief
If it was any other time in Bangladesh cricket, Rhodes wouldn’t need to worry too much about the board president. But current chief Nazmul Hassan has been forthright about criticisms, compliments and decision-making. Some call it interference but he firmly believes he is making a difference.
Hassan is known to be present during team meetings on the eve of crucial matches; he makes selection decisions even after the selectors have submitted their team. Hassan had given Chandika Hathurusingha a lot of freedom as head coach, which didn’t go down too well in the BCB and among some of the players, but it is expected that Rhodes will enjoy a similar treatment.
The challenge for Rhodes will be to balance BCB’s support and the chief’s interventions, apart from his job of coaching the Bangladesh players.
Rhodes would also have to ensure the younger players have sustained hunger to perform consistently in international cricket. Far too many players come with a big tag, initially impress everyone and then fade away as quickly. Currently, the likes of Sarkar, Mosaddek and Mohammad Saifuddin are on this list, while the likes of Mustafizur and Sabbir Rahman have blown hot and cold.
The tendency of focusing on becoming a star before becoming a top performer goes down as low as the Under-19s in Bangladesh cricket. This certainly needs addressing at the top level. How Rhodes works on it will depend on his own knowledge of dealing with young players.
An ODI country
Rhodes must also be aware that Bangladesh have been performing well in ODIs. However, this hasn’t really been the case in Tests or T20s. They have also been progressive in the ODI set-up, ensuring a good mix of experience and youth.
Mashrafe Mortaza will be a great sounding board for Rhodes and he will have to combine with Shakib Al Hasan to improve the T20 team and make the Test team a more proactive side.
Currently, Bangladesh have shown very little intent in improving as a T20 side. The BPL hasn’t really served as a production line for big hitters or threatening T20 bowlers.
In Tests, they have had some historic wins since 2016 when they beat England, Australia and Sri Lanka for the first time. But the pace attack hasn’t matured enough to bowling consistently for a whole Test match, mainly because of heavy emphasis on spin in home conditions.