A lack of control of the players and commitment towards the Bangladesh men’s cricket team from the Head Coach Chandika Hathurusingha is a big downside for the Tigers, former captain of the national team ASM Raqibul Hasan has said.
Raqibul said the media made Hathurusingha Bangladesh team’s “headmaster”, though it was not a bad thing, showing a softer side and strategies were key missing elements regarding his attitude towards the players.
“Had he been a very superlative coach, he would have been coaching Australia, England, South Africa or any [better] team but he’s not.
“But I will not undermine him too much,” he continued, “I think he has lost control at some point. When I say control, I’m not saying he will call all the shots. In cricket, you have to pay respect to the senior players. And you have to take the captain with confidence from day one.”
He added Bangladesh are not a world-class team but their following was huge, counting up to “170 million” people.
Raqibul pointed out that a coach does not control everything all the time. “It is the captain that takes all the decisions. When the match is happening, a captain keeps changing the bowlers, changing the field. So the captain must have a say.”
Referring to the Sri Lanka-born Australian coach’s first tenure with Bangladesh, he said: “He [Hathurusingha] had problems from his first assignment. It started with Mashrafe, he had problems with Shakib, Tamim, also with Mahmudullah. Hathurusingha wanted to throw him out. It’s an open secret.”
Calling the spat with Mahmudullah an “open secret”, he said it was wrong of Hathurusingha to do so. “If you have a plan about the team, it shall stay a secret. Because otherwise it might backfire and send the whole nation after you, criticise you.”
On Hathurusingha’s first tenure with Bangladesh, he said, he stayed back in Australia [after going with the team], and simply resigned.
“Then he went back to Sri Lanka for more money. And there was divine justice. We all know. The Sri Lanka board threw him out and said ‘you are no good, we don't want you’.”
“When in the shake-up, he lost and blamed [Angelo Mathews] who is now playing in the team, he has just been called in. Mathews was captain then. He had said Mathews was responsible. And that [started] a fire in Sri Lanka.
Raqibul went on to say Hathurusingha was “not capable” of coaching international teams like Bangladesh or even Australia, but the High Performance sides, or under-19 squads may benefit both sides.
“So I won’t rate him as a good coach,” he said.
BANGLADESH’S WORLD CUP CAMPAIGN
Raqibul, a former ICC match referee, said he was surprised by Bangladesh’s poor showing thus far in the showpiece event in India.
“I didn’t think Bangladesh would fare below par, but that is the way they are competing. It’s a fact that all other teams have come prepared at the biggest cricketing competition of the world -- the World Cup.”
“But I think somewhere down the line, [the team] are not clicking. When the batting is clicking, the bowling isn’t. The subcontinent conditions should have suited Bangladesh, I thought, but unfortunately Bangladesh could not take advantage of [them].”
Asked whether the recent drama over Tamim Iqbal’s exclusion and skipper Shakib Al Hasan’s reaction to it had an impact on the team, Raqib said cricket was of course a mind game.
"We have a young team, and altogether they’re not very experienced. Had Tamim been there, it could have been a bit different.”
"We have got four-five young under-19ers but unfortunately they couldn't perform, because this is big-time cricket."
He lamented Bangladesh not having a leg-spinner, the kind of which are key to taking wickets in big matches.
About Shakib’s poor form, Raqibul immediately reminisced about his centuries, 600-plus runs and many wickets in the 2019 World Cup.
“But this year he’s not performing well. You cannot beat one thing in life, that is age.”
“That’s one thing. And you can’t be committed to many other things outside the game. That will derail your focus. And Shakib is very much involved in personal things, endorsements, advertisements, you know."
He said though there may be nothing wrong with that, it affects the team on the whole.
Raqibul was fine with Shakib visiting the country with the showpiece event taking place in a neighbouring country.
INDIA ARE THE ‘FAVOURITES’
Raqibul praised India for being the strongest batting, bowling and fielding side of the World Cup and saw the two-time World Cup champions as clear favourites. On top of everything else, they are the host nation, which he suggested should work as an extra advantage for them.
He said India were the most “combined side” and “not looking tired” in the busy schedule of this edition of the showcase tournament.
With nine games involving travelling across India, he said, many players of other teams came into the tournament on the back of playing franchise cricket.
But the Indian players were not allowed to play for franchises abroad and only competed in the Indian Premier League.
“Cricket is no more only a game now, it’s commerce, it’s money. Players are now retiring from the top level [to play franchise cricket]."
The Indian board gives players double the money they would get overseas for playing in the IPL, so Indians are naturally more home-grown players than players of other teams, Raqibul said.
The former Bangladesh captain later added Australia being one of his favourites as well.