Liton Das may have featured only in four Tests, nine ODIs and three T20Is in his international career so far, but the 22-year old wicketkeeper-batsman has already earned a reputation of being Bangladesh’s most-preferred crisis man. Of late, whenever Mushfiqur Rahim got injured or barred by the physio or the team management (to be specific by the coach) to perform the keeping duties, Liton had to come in to perform the thankless job.
Expect this year’s Christchurch Test, when Nurul Hasan was tried out, Liton has maintained his reputation as Bangladesh’s second-choice wicketkeeper-batsman in the past couple of years.
Amongst the contemporary keeper-batsmen in Bangladesh’s domestic circuit, Liton along with Nurul are by far the best two baits to be successful at the international level. Insiders rate Nurul’s keeping abilities highly than Liton’s, but when it comes to an overall package of a keeper-batsman, Liton scores more points.
At the age group level, he was part of Bangladesh’s two Under-19 World Cup teams – in 2012 and 2014 – and he had a 50 plus batting average in both those tournaments.
The youngster is a product of BKSP, the famous sports institute on the outskirts of Dhaka that produced Shakib Al Hasan, Mahmudullah, Mushfiqur and many other international stars. Nazmul Abedeen, who has mentored most of the current Bangladeshi cricketers, including Liton at BKSP, rates him quite highly.
“Liton is a very talented cricketer. His high strike rate without slogging is ample proof of his excellent technique. You just love the way he hit the ball in every direction, effortlessly,” Abedeen explained. He also considers Liton as a ‘safe’ keeper.
The youngster has already shown glimpses of the talent which he possesses, in the course of his stop-start international career.
On the backdrop of an excellent 2014-15 domestic season in which Liton was the second-highest run scorer in the Dhaka Premier League one-day competition, with 686 runs, and the leading run scorer in the First-Class National Cricket League, with 1024 runs at 85.33, the 20-year old was called in the Test team for the one-off match against India at Fatullah and he impressed with his keeping and a 45-ball 44 with the bat in hand.
In his next series with the Test team, the youngster scored his maiden international fifty against the mighty South Africans in Chittagong. Thanks to his fighting innings against the likes of Dale Steyn, Vernon Philander, Morne Morkel, Simon Harmer, Bangladesh took a healthy lead on a slow wicket. Though rain played spoilsport and hosts couldn’t take advantage of that lead, but Liton, successfully made a name for himself.
Following that series, a quiet run with the bat in the limited-overs format saw him losing his place and he had to wait more than a year to make his comeback in the tour of Sri Lanka earlier this year – following a First-Class double-hundred. However, after featuring in the playing eleven at Galle, a rib injury ended his tour.
After recovering from the injury, these days Liton is striving hard for a comeback. Recently, he went to Australia with the BCB High Performance team and had a decent tour.
According to Abedeen, at this point of time, such tours are quite crucial for him to shape his career before heading to the big stage. He believes, in 2015, Liton was rushed into international cricket, without providing him proper exposure at the ‘A’ level.
“I just wish he had spent little more time in a tough ‘A’ team environment, which could shape him better mentally as a Test batsman. Test cricket has different challenges and it’s not easy to cope with it without proper preparation” Adedeen mentioned before adding, “I think his recent good form will give him the confidence to grow as a Test batsman. And if he does get into the groove of test cricket, you never know, we might see another champion player.”
Since their maiden entry at the Quarterfinal of 2015 World Cup, there has been a Renaissance in Bangladesh cricket. The Tamims, the Shakibs, the Mushfiqurs the Mustafizurs have taken their team to the peak of its glory. Now, keeping the future prospects in mind, this is right the time to invest on the youngsters, who can carry the baton forward. Someone like Liton is certainly one of them.
Hope his talent will get proper grooming before considering the option of permanently handing over the gloves of Mushfiqur to him in Test cricket.