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Aminul: A proper Test batsman can cope with all formats, but a T20 specialist can't

  • Published at 09:59 pm December 15th, 2017
  • Last updated at 10:40 am December 16th, 2017
Aminul: A proper Test batsman can cope with all formats, but a T20 specialist can't
The name Aminul Islam Bulbul will forever be associated with Bangladesh cricket as he is the Tigers’ maiden centurion in Test match cricket. The Bangladesh cricket legend entered his name into the history book when he scored a brilliant hundred in the Tigers’ maiden Test against India at Bangabandhu National Stadium in Dhaka 17 years ago in November. The 49-year old was also part of some memorable wins for Bangladesh, including the 1999 World Cup victories against Pakistan and Scotland. Later after announcing his retirement, the former right-handed batsman became a coach for Asian Cricket Council, imparting his experience and knowledge to the new cricketing nations. Bulbul gave an exclusive interview to Dhaka Tribune where he shared his thoughts on his playing and coaching career, Bangladesh cricket and ways to develop the game in the country, among other topics. Here are the excerpts: You simultaneously played football and cricket in the first-class level early in your career. How and why did you switch to cricket? There were three reasons. Firstly, my knee was damaged. Secondly, in our times, football season was played in summer and cricket in winter. So I could participate in both sports as they were played in different times. But in the 1987-88 season, the football season was transferred to winter. So I had to choose one sport that season. And I chose cricket. Thirdly, I played in the Youth World Cup for the ICC Associates Young Cricketers' squad in 1988. There I met with Peter Spence, who was the assistant coach. He gave some advice as to how I could keep concentration and focus during batting. He thought that I was a multi-skilled player as I did both bowling and batting. He advised me to concentrate on cricket. So eventually, for these three reasons, I chose cricket in the end as my sporting career. Can you share the experience of the Youth World Cup where you got the wicket of Brian Lara. Yes, I got the wicket of Brian Lara. It was a caught and bowled dismissal. I took six wickets in six matches. It was the first ever Youth World Cup, like today’s U-19 World Cup, and it was held in February, 1988. The tournament was held on the occasion of Australia’s bicentenary. At that time, there were seven Test-playing nations. So seven teams were there and another side was combined from the ICC Associates. From Bangladesh, myself and Harunur Rashid Liton went there. I played for Azad Boys at that time.

Also read: Power misuse has gone to extreme level, says Aminul

What are you doing these days? I am a level three coach educator at the moment. I have run almost 80 courses so far in elementary, level one, level two and level three. My strong areas are batting and biomechanics, skill acquisition, role of the coach and coach philosophy. Generally I took these classes. You have worked with the ACC’s development programme for eight years. How did you get involved with them? I completed my level two coaching course in Australia around 2004. Later I worked as the head coach of University of New South Wales’ ODI team in the 2005-06 season. But I realised I should get back to Bangladesh and work there and share my learning and knowledge. Keeping that in mind, I came back to Bangladesh. My wife was also working as a permanent employee in a big company in Australia. But I came back to Bangladesh. Mahbub Anam was the director of BCB then. Unfortunately, I was neglected for 16 long months. I had the ambition of working with the BCB and had a dream of becoming the coach of Bangladesh A team. But I was neglected. Then, Kaiser bhai, Khaled Mashud Pilot and [Habibul Bashar] Sumon told me to coach the Acme Laboratories team in the corporate league. I became their coach and Acme became champion. Then I became the coach of Abahani Limited in Dhaka Premier League and Abahani won the championship that year. Then [Syed] Ashraful [Haque] bhai called me form Kuala Lumpur and told me to learn Chinese language as there was an offer coming soon as a development officer for China. One of the main criterion of that job was to possess the ability of speaking Chinese language. Then I attended a short Chinese language course form North South University. And after that, when ICC gave the circular, I applied and got selected as I was the only person to fulfill all the criterion (completing level two course, ability to speak in Chinese language, etc) for the offer. Will you briefly share your experience there? My main objective was to develop cricket in China. Along with that I also worked for Brunei and Myanmar. Later, I was handed the responsibility of six nations. I worked as coach educator. Later, me and Iqbal Sikander became head educators and also took the responsibility of the High Performance Unit. My main work was with Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong, China, Myanmar and Brunei. And central courses were conducted for Afghanistan, the UAE and other nations. Who according to you is the best batsman Bangladesh have ever produced? If you consider all the generations, then I can choose three batsmen as the best ever. First, there was Raqibul Hasan. Then there was Minhajul Abedin Nannu. Then, among the current generation, I will choose Mushfiqur Rahim. I think these three for me are the best as right-handed batsmen in three different eras. And about Nannu bhai I can say he is the all time best. I think he was always a complete batsman. I have learnt a lot from him. You scored your maiden century in your first Test, along with Bangladesh’s. Can you share the memories of that inaugural Test? I don’t know whether it’s the best innings of my career or not. But one thing I can say, it was a signature innings in my life. A lot of people helped me at that time. The captain at that time, Naimur Rahman Durjoy told the selectors that I should have been picked for the first Test. Eddie Barlow and Ashraful bhai were also there. I also thank my batting partners during that innings, Pilot, Durjoy, Sumon, and [Hasibul Hossain] Shanto. They helped me a lot to play that innings and scoring those runs. When did you realise you were on your way to scoring your maiden hundred? When I was batting at 92, Pilot told me, “Bulbul bhai, you can score 100 from this position”. When I was closing in on my hundred, then I remembered my good friends Javed Miandad, and Pravin Amre. They also scored hundreds in their debut Tests. So their names were in my mind when I was closing in on my hundred in my debut Test. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-kPcguc-vts Bangladesh played the 1999 World Cup under your captaincy when the Tigers defeated Pakistan. Did that particular win help Bangladesh to get the Test status? Actually, Ashraful bhai and Saber [Hossain Chowdhury] bhai did a lot of work for gaining Test status, even before that match. Maybe that success against Pakistan in the 1999 World Cup helped. But actually, after winning the ICC trophy in 1997, the cricket craze in Bangladesh helped a lot behind us attaining the Test status. The ICC noticed that people here love cricket so much. The mini World Cup and the Asian Test championship, held in Bangladesh, got a great response, considering the crowd. Asian countries gave good support for Bangladesh. And one more thing, Syed Ashraful Haque did a great job to get the Test status for Bangladesh. Maybe many people don’t know this. But he did a wonderful job. The T20 format is very much popular these days. The T10 format has also started. As a batsman, which format do you think is the toughest to score runs? Obviously Test. It’s the real test for a batsman. I was seeing the Perth Test between Australia and England and thought how difficult it is to play Test cricket. T10 will be a challenge as it is new. T20- and 50-over format have been established now. But I believe a T20 specialist may struggle in 50-over format and can’t be a great Test player. But a great Test player can cope up with the 50-over format, T20 and even T10. A priper Test batsman can cope up with all the formats of the game. The BPL has ended recently. How do you think the tournament can be helpful for the development of Bangladesh cricket? Everything has some positive and negative impact. Positive thing is it has created a good fan base. A lot of big franchises are being involved here. And the bad thing is this tournament can’t be prioritised as the No 1 priority in Bangladesh cricket. Although it’s a colourful tournament, but when you focus more on this type of tournament then there is a possibility that you are switching concentration from four-day cricket or longer formats or giving less importance to these tournaments. So the focus should be distributed equally among tournaments like the Dhaka Premier League (DPL), BPL or four-day cricket. Then development will come. So you believe more focus and investment should be given to four-day cricket? When Bangladesh received the Test status, then they said to the ICC that they have five regions in the country. They will build regional cricket centres in these regions. And from these regions coach, cricketers and umpires will be generated on a regular basis. We have been unable to build that even today however. Shahriar Nafees, a player from Dhaka, is still playing for Barisal. A player from Barisal may be playing for Khulna. Khulna player is playing for Chittagong. We have been unable to build a regional cricket structure yet. Suppose, from Chittagong regional centre, a highly competitive tournament can be operated from U-13 to U-19 level. Then from there, an emerging team can be built, and eventually, a Chittagong regional team, will be built. This kind of proper pathway in order to develop cricket has not been established in any region so far. When every region has a strong and competitive team then a lot of coaches, players and umpires will be involved with the game. It’s a long but structured process. You might not see immediate success from this process. But it will give you long-term benefits. If you consider Australia, they have a population of about 25 millions. But still, they are playing well in almost every sport, not only cricket. Why? Because they have a structure. In their domestic competition, the best 70 cricketers from state regions are playing in the Sheffield Shield. These players are capable of playing Test cricket. So until our regional cricket is improved in a structured way, long-term development will be difficult. Obviously, BPL or DPL has significance and positive impact. But region-based cricket centre must be developed for long-term benefits. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x1N9HamKrbU Did you follow any cricketer while growing up? A few. I followed Richie Richardson, Sunil Gavaskar. I also followed Greg Chappell and Mohinder Amarnath. Although in our times there were less chances to see their game live, still I followed them. Who is the best batsman these days? Obviously Mushfiq is very good batsman. Tamim [Iqbal] has improved his batting a lot in the last few years. Mosaddek [Hossain] is very much promising. Abroad, of course there is Virat Kohli, not only for his batting but for a lot of things. Kusal Mendis from Sri Lanka and Peter Handscomb from Australia are good. And also Hashim Amla from South Africa is a brilliant batsman. If you get any offer to become coach in Bangladesh, either in domestic cricket or the national team, will you take it? Wherever I work, I always think about coaching in Bangladesh. Like if I can give this kind of coaching in Bangladesh, then will I be successful? I can say my big engine is BCB and smaller engines are elsewhere where I work these days. As I am a professional person, if I get a professional offer then obviously I will consider that.
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