Sunil Joshi is doing a good job as the spin coach of Tigers……
During his half a decade-long international career Sunil Joshi never featured in a World Cup despite being a utility member of India’s contemporary limited-overs’ set-up. However, next year in England, he will have his first taste of the pinnacle event of the cricket world, courtesy to the extension of his contract as Bangladesh’s spin-consultant. It has been a little more than a year, Joshi is associated with the Tigers and the former left-arm spinner has already made his presence felt by successfully getting the best out of his resources across formats.
On February 2017, when Bangladesh arrived in India to play its first-ever Test match, the Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) chairman Nazmul Hassan approached then Indian coach Anil Kumble for a suggestion regarding a suitable option for the role of a spin-consultant. Joshi’s name then came to the fore. At that time he had experience of coaching Jammu & Kashmir, Hyderabad and Assam in India’s domestic circuit, apart from stints with Oman during the 2016 Asia Cup and World T20. Furthermore, Joshi also had a fruitful stint as the spin coach for the India Under-19s at the National Cricket Academy in Bengaluru.
Hence, it was indeed a quality suggestion from Kumble and eventually, on August 2017 Joshi was offered the role on a temporary basis prior to Bangladesh’s crucial two-Test series against Australia at home.
Well, Joshi’s first priority was to make the spin-trio Mehidy Hasan, Shakib Al Hasan and Taijul Islam believe that at home they can run through any batting line-up. He was aware of their potentials, so the entire focus was given on the execution part. Also, having played a fair bit of cricket against the Aussies, Joshi knew how to irritate the Aussies with mind games.
“We’re focusing on the one ball that troubled Australia in India,” prior to the start of the series, this statement of his injected a doubt in the minds of Steven Smith and Co. and in the first Test at Mirpur, the Bangladesh spin-trio made the best use of the confused batting line-up by claiming 19 out of the 20 opponent scalps and scripting a historic maiden Test triumph against the Australians.
In his first-ever high-profile international assignment, Joshi immediately produced results and it received a positive feedback from the Bangladesh cricket fraternity.
Since then, he has never looked back.
During his tenure, Joshi has played an instrumental role behind the development of Mehidy and Taijul, specifically. Both of them are rhythm bowlers and have natural drift as spinners. As a coach, he just provided them with the right guidance.
Prior to the start of any series, Joshi made them bowl plenty of overs in the nets. As a spinner, especially in red-ball cricket, it is essential to be consistent, hitting the right areas ball after ball. To fully grasp this skill, one needs to do a lot of hard work. And with Taijul and Mehidy, Joshi applied this tried and tested formula. The duo sweated it out in the nets under his constant monitoring on a daily basis.
Even a senior pro like Shakib’s discipline as a bowler has improved considerably during Joshi’s tenure. He is now much more patient as a bowler, especially in the five-day format.
Also, he has identified the right format for the right individual. For example, during his tenure, Taijul has only featured in the red-ball cricket and has claimed four five-wicket hauls in his last Test six innings.
In white-ball cricket, Joshi has always encouraged Mehidy and Co. to be more aggressive with their mindset. In this format, a spinner needs to maintain the right balance between the economy rate and wicket-taking abilities. So, he has provided the confidence to someone like Mehidy to give the ball more air in order to invite the batsmen to play a loose shot, which can create a wicket-taking opportunity. And the bowler responded brilliantly, which is why we had seen Mashrafe Mortaza asking the off-spinners to bowl in the powerplay on numerous occasions during the Asia Cup.
Furthermore, in the quest of finding a quality wrist or a mystery spinner, he has followed their domestic circuit as well as club matches with keen interest. Nayeem Hasan, the 17-year old off-spinner who made headlines for being the youngest debutant to take a five-for in the Chittagong Test against Windies, has been fast-tracked into the national team based on Joshi’s recommendation. Mohammad Rishad, a 16-year old leg-spinners is also in the scheme of things. Joshi rates him quite highly and believes the combination of Mehidy and Rishad “will rule spin here for years to come.”
Well, without a doubt there is no dearth in talent in Bangladesh and perhaps Joshi with his years of experience as a player and a coach in this part of the world, is perhaps the ideal man under present circumstances to provide these youngsters with the required guidance.