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So much hype, but no better results…….

A frustrating debut

First ODI, Mirpur, October 21, 2018: Tendai Chatara pitched one up in the middle and leg, which lifted and all Fazle Mahmud, the debutante, needed to do was to leave it by letting his wrist down. But, in turn, Fazle fended at it and paid a heavy price. A duck on debut.

Second ODI, Chottogram, October 24, 2018: Sikandar Raza floated one up and Fazle Mahmud decided to come out of the crease and misjudged the flight completely to get stumped disgracefully. 148 for 1 became 152 for 2, and thankfully, Bangladesh did not collapse as someone like Mushfiqur Rahim was there to steer the ship safely to the shore.

The Hype

Before the three-match one-day international started off, the Bangladesh media were upbeat over this lad from Barishal. The encouragement transformed into a hype and, it seemed, Bangladesh were all set to get a solution at number three – a Brian Lara or Kumar Sangakkara has arrived at the scene to take world cricket by storm.

The hype became over-hype when one of the selectors of Bangladesh cricket team, Habibul Bashar termed him as a “complete package”. Bashar said, “He started as a flamboyant, aggressive batsman in his early days, but I have noticed in the Ireland tour that he can bat according to the team’s needs. He rotates the strike, but he still has the big shots. He is now a complete batsman, which had a big influence in his selection. He is also a good fielder and bowls spin, a complete package”.

Also read: Keep the faith in Soumya and Sabbir

One has to respect the opinion of Bashar, who played at the highest level as the captain of Tigers and once upon a time, he was one of the best batsmen of Bangladesh. One can expect, Bashar has the eye and cricketing sense to notice the talent and skill of a batsman if not the media of Bangladesh, who are habituated to glorify the men of yesterday, without highlighting the new talents. Had someone like Chandika Hathurusingha was not around, Bangladesh might not have been blessed with cricketers like Mustafizur Rahman, Soumya Sarkar or Liton Kumar Das.

Anyhow, let me stick to Fazle Mahmud.

Chandika is past now, but the unnecessary hype is permanent in Bangladesh.

Bangladesh cricketers Mehidy Hasan (L) and Fazle Mahmud (R) attend a training session ahead of the first one day international (ODI) cricket match between Bangladesh and Zimbabwe at the Sher-e-Bangla National Cricket Stadium in Dhaka on October 20, 2018. (Photo by MUNIR UZ ZAMAN / AFP) (Photo credit should read MUNIR UZ ZAMAN/AFP/Getty Images)
Bangladesh cricketers Mehidy Hasan (L) and Fazle Mahmud (R) attend a training session ahead of the first one day international (ODI) cricket match between Bangladesh and Zimbabwe at the Sher-e-Bangla National Cricket Stadium in Dhaka on October 20, 2018. Image Courtesy: ESPNcricinfo

The hope and excitement regarding Fazle Mahmud gathered enormous momentum and when Bangladesh’s first wicket fell in the first ODI, the majority of the eyes were focused on how Fazle fairs! But sadly, his short stay at the wicket was nothing encouraging – no feet movement against a lifter, but nicked the ball for nothing to walk for the pavilion.

It was a day to forget for the debutante and he received encouragement from Bangladesh skipper Mashrafe Mortaza. In a press conference, he said, “I still think [Fazle] should get another game. It is hard to judge a player based on one game. You can’t also blame him for getting out to that delivery. We have backed a lot of players in the recent past, but we also can’t afford to give someone a lot of chances before he performs. But we will try to give him the best of opportunities”.

Fair enough!

Being the skipper, Mash has always been a symbol of encouragement and also, one can have faith in his judgement.

Fazle featured in the second ODI, but the outcome was same.

This time around, he misjudged Raza’s flight and for what reason he skipped out of the crease only he and his instincts would understand. In his second stint he lasted for five balls, something better than first (where he lasted for 4 balls), but sadly, the scorers were not troubled at all.

Is Fazle Mahmud that good?

Fazle Mahmud made his first-class debut in 2004. He switched to a different field for a better career, but shifted back to cricket for the love and passion for the game. But in all these years, his numbers at domestic cricket don’t support the opinion of Bashar.

He averages 33.16 with the bat and 47.35 with the ball after playing 68 first-class matches, while in List A matches he averages 30.13 with the bat and 38.81 with the ball with a strike rate of 71.49. Meanwhile, in Ireland, while playing for Bangladesh A, in the 5-match ODIs, he notched up just 136 runs from 4 ODIs at an average of 45.33 and bagged 3 wickets at an average of 34.50. His batting numbers are not better than Mominul Haque, Mohammad Mithun and Zakir Hasan. Still, perhaps, his strike rate (115) in Ireland became the criteria of selection, but should strike rate be the sole criteria to judge a player’s selection in 50-over format?

Also read: Mominul Haque rediscovers his mojo

Personally, I think, to select a player for ODIs, the matter of technique and temperament become very much important. A player may experience a horrendous debut at first hand, but he does not deliver you the same in the second stint after breaking so much sweat at domestic level for almost a decade, do they? Yes, there are exceptions, but the majority don’t.

Fazle Mahmud Rabbi had been vulnerable technically and temperamentally. Image Courtesy: bdnews24
Fazle Mahmud Rabbi had been vulnerable technically and temperamentally. Image Courtesy: bdnews24

Temperamentally, Fazle was like an ice sculpture in a hot desert. A bowler does not need enough time to melt him down. A batsman, who has been termed as a “complete package” doesn’t prove to be a shaky-boy in the middle. Then technically, Fazle did not seem to be efficient enough, which indicates, how poor the domestic structure of Bangladesh cricket is, where any Tom, Dick and Harry can score runs easily!

From a technical point of view, Fazle’s bat faces toward the third man and gully and when he brings his bat down, it remains in an angled position, which exposes the edge. Then, he does not get enough side on, which also exposes his defence. Moreover, Fazle’s feet don’t move and on both occasions, he showed, he is unable to read the length of the bowler.

Do you expect such things from a batsman, who spent so many years in first-class cricket?

I don’t think so!

Also, one does not expect such a display against the benign attack of Zimbabwe.

Hype is always a very bad thing. It not only conveys the wrong message, but hides the truth also. I don’t see any reasons behind glorifying those cricketers, who are not well-equipped to play at the highest level and also, hampers to develop a better future.

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