A dissatisfied Imrul Kayes

Imrul Kayes, in a recent interview with the prominent newspapers of Bangladesh, expressed his dissatisfaction about batting in different positions. Normally, Kayes is an opener, but with Tamim Iqbal and Soumya Sarkar gelling well in course of time, his position as an opener in the longer formats is somewhat at risk, which did not satisfy the opener from Meherpur.

The number three position has been shuffled in recent times. The emergence of Mominul Haque lets everyone think, Bangladesh have finally found a stable number three batsman, but over the years, his batting lost the classic touch and thus, Chandika Hathurusingha had to try and test several players in that important position.

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A left-hander at number three is always a very good option to have, as from a cricketing point of view, it makes the bowler and captain shuffle the fielders around and change the angle of bowling, which in turn proves an advantage for the batting unit and perhaps keeping this in mind, Chandika wanted Kayes to bat at number three. Moreover, having an opener to come out to bat at number three gives the advantage of weathering the early storm of pace bowlers on a fresh wicket if an early wicket falls.

But it seems, Kayes is not interested in utilising the opportunities provided to him but cares more about his personal interest. He said to the Bangladesh sports journalists,” It happens to everybody, not just me. I just want to give you an example. Say, you go to your office and find that your desk has been changed, how does it feel? You feel uncomfortable. It’s not only in cricket, but it happens everywhere”.

What does the history of Test cricket tell us?

Any batsmen can have their dissatisfaction regarding their batting position, but there were many in the history of Test cricket when batsmen were tried and tested in different positions to stamp their authority in the team. The respective batsmen went out of their comfort zone, faced the challenge with utmost courage and struck gold.

David Boon and Geoff Marsh were one of Australia’s most successful opening pairs in 50-over and Test formats. But in the late 80s, an opener named, Mark Taylor emerged into the scene and his talent and capabilities led the Australian think tank to take a bold decision. They promoted Mark Taylor as an opener and David Boon to bat at number three.

Boon showed no signs of dissatisfaction but concentrated more on scoring runs. By batting at number three, Boon notched up 4412 runs at an average of 45.48, better than his opening position, from 111 innings. Moreover, he notched 13 hundreds while batting at number three, five more than as an opener.

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Similarly, in 2001, Justin Langer’s poor form worried Steve Waugh and Australian think tank. His position in the team was under threat. The combination of Michael Slater and Matthew Hayden was not working well. Slater’s form was bad during the Ashes of 2001 and in the fifth Test at The Oval, Waugh decided to open with Hayden and Langer.

Normally, we all know, Langer was not an opener, but more suited to bat at number three. Again, he was one of those batters, who was regarded of not well-equipped against the pace bowlers and thus, sending him to open was not accepted pretty well by the critics. But as soon as the fifth Test commenced, the Hayden-Langer pair became one of the most successful opening pairs in the history of Test cricket.

Langer accepted the challenge and did not bog down. He was determined to cement his place in the team and kept on scoring runs. As an opener, he notched up 5112 runs at an average of 48.23 with 16 hundreds in Test cricket from 115 innings. As a number three batsman, he averaged just  41.64.

Both Boon and Langer did not even bother about their respective batting positions, but their main focus was to score runs for the team.  They were out of their comfort zone but never felt discomfort while batting at the crease. Scoring runs consistently was what mattered more for the.  Both of them adapted to the situation very well.

Imrul Kayes should concentrate more on scoring runs

One thing Kayes is forgetting and which is, adaptation. Be it in life or in cricket, those who learn to adapt, advance forward and taste success. Nothing is permanent in personal or professional life. Nothing will happen according to your own wish, but life would always throw you new challenges to test your temperament and skills. What you need to do is, accept the challenges and prove a point through performance. There is no credit in blooming flowers by living in your comfort zone.

Imrul Kayes acknowledges his century against Sri Lanka, second Test, Chittagong, 2014. He was batting number three in that Test. Image Courtesy: Cricinfo

Perhaps, Kayes doesn’t know, in Test cricket, while batting at number three, he has a better average than an opener. He averages 34.67 as a number three batsman and has scored a century as well. As an opener, he averages 27.35 from 48 innings, which doesn’t justify his claim that he’s more suited as an opener.

Even though the Tamim and Kayes combination has given Bangladesh some great moments, but when better options are available and considering the recent form, hard choices must be made. Soumya in Test matches this year averages 46.75 while Kayes averages just 23.67.Kayes opened the batting at Wellington and scored 1 and 36 respectively while batting at number three in P Sara Oval, he could score 34 and 0 (out first ball).

Be it at number three or in the opening position, Kayes’ bat did not talk this year. Even last year, he averaged 33.33 with the bat which was poor than 2015 when he averaged 54.86. The dip in form is evident.

In my opinion, the matter is more about adjusting the technique and temperament rather than a change in the batting position.

Kayes is a quality batsman and has the abilities to score runs in any position. The main motto of Kayes should be scoring runs rather than thinking too much about his batting position. If he scores runs, he would earn the accolades otherwise, such opinions would be regarded as lame excuses.

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