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Rhodes: We want our younger players to produce the goods

  • Published at 08:35 pm May 22nd, 2019
Bangladesh coach Steve Rhodes makes a point as Mashrafe bin Mortaza listen during training Dhaka Tribune/Md Manik

Bangladesh cricket team head coach Steve Rhodes talked to Dhaka Tribune in an interview in Leicester where he spoke in details about the Tigers and their prospects in the upcoming World Cup in England and Wales. Here are the excerpts:

Bangladesh came to Leicester right after winning the tri-nation ODI series final in Dublin, Ireland. How is the intensity of practice so far?

Good, really good. We’ve got a bit busier each time we’ve practiced and [Wednesday] we did a solid fielding session as well. One of the reasons why we came to Leicester is because of the wonderful training facilities they’ve got. These nets at the back here are wonderful wickets and we’ve had access to the middle as well. We’ve been very happy with the way we’ve been hosted by Leicestershire County Cricket Club, and this is the reason why we’re here because this has the best practice facilities in the county game.

There might be big scores in the World Cup. Is the team focusing on big hitters?

I think we are starting to get there. Sabbir [Rahman] has got extremely fast hands which helps him hit the ball hard. He is capable down the order if we need 10 an over. If we need seven or eight in an over, he’s got the brain and he’ll realize what needs to be done at that point. The same can be said about Mahmudullah, and even Mosaddek [Hossain] considering how he finished the last game. Together with batters like [Mohammad] Mithun, [Mehedi Hasan] Miraz and Saifuddin, these are the guys we actually want in the middle at the end of the innings. I’ve mentioned some names that are likely to bat at five, six, seven, eight, nine and then, there’s Mash (Mashrafe bin Mortaza) as well. So you can see we’ve strengthened our lower middle-order and hopefully, not taken too much away with the ball either by doing so.

Reserve players like Liton Das, Mosaddek and Abu Jayed performed well in the tri-series. How satisfying is that to you as a coach?

I am extremely happy with their performances. Also, Soumya’s [Sarkar] form in the games that he played was very exciting. We’ve got somebody like Fizz (Mustafizur Rahman), who’s never mentioned among the "Big Five". So you’re starting to add up to a team, which is what Bangladesh need and what we want. And the experienced lads, that’s what they want as well. Hopefully they can start calling us the Bangladesh team, rather than just a few. We want our younger, less experienced players to stand up and produce the goods. The senior lads want that as well and now that they’re doing that, it’s a real positive.

What is the update on Mahmudullah's bowling since he has not chanced his arm for months?  

I didn’t see him have a go [Wednesday] but we had a plan for him to gently roll his arm over before we put it under any serious strain. We’re hoping that he will take part in the World Cup at some stage as a bowler, but we don’t know when that might be. We’ll have some feedback as to how he’s gone about [Wednesday] as soon as we get into the changing room.

Shakib al Hasan did not play in the tri-series final. He has practiced in all three training sessions here in Leicester. What’s the update on his condition?

Shakib seems to be fine. He took part fully now in fielding and he’s been training and batting, while his bowling has not been a problem anyway. We’re hoping that it will settle down - it was only a little muscle spasm before the final and that can happen. We’re optimistic that that’s gone now.

Soumya did not practice Wednesday. Any injury scare that might have prompted that?

He’s got a little medical thing so we wanted to take him out of the practice [Wednesday], it’s nothing major. He will be fine. Sometimes you’re better off by resting a little bit. I anticipate everything will settle down.

What was the most pleasing aspect after the Ireland series?

I think the batting looked good. We tried to play a longer batting lineup, since I’ve been in Bangladesh. We’ve been trying our best to go in with maybe one bowler who doesn’t bat, not three. I think that helps in the big scores because when you’re chasing big it comes down to the last three-four overs regularly and you are likely to lose wickets. So the lower-order is really important if you need 10 an over. We’ve showcased some significant strength in the middle-order. I’ve been really pleased with the way Riyad has been there at the end of games. That’s the job we want for him, to be the finisher or one of the finishers. The likes of Sabbir, Mosaddek and Mithun will also to try and make sure that they are finishing games for us as a batting unit. It has been pleasing to see that we’ve been doing that while chasing.

Any change in the World Cup squad or plans to add a few extra players since it will be a long tournament?

I’m probably the wrong man to ask if there’s going to be any changes. But at the moment, we are going into the contest with these 15 players, and they are the ones we are taking forward. You can only announce a 15-man squad, but I understand that teams are taking more than that. I don’t think that’s in the plan but I know things turn out differently at times. That’s all I can say and I mean that in a nice way. 

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