Mohammad Aminul Islam, also known as Bulbul, belongs to a generation when the Bangladesh cricket team was taking baby steps in the international arena.
A former captain, Aminul was the country’s first Test centurion when it made its longer format debut against India in November 2000.
Over the last decade, Aminul has been based in Australia and shuttles between Melbourne and Dubai as the Development Manager of Asia, at the International Cricket Council.
The 54-year-old was at the Adelaide Oval on Sunday afternoon as Bangladesh suffered yet another defeat, this time against Pakistan, and missed out on an opportunity to reach the semifinals of the T20 World Cup.
As the Bangladesh bowlers struggled to defend a low total, Aminul watched the proceedings from the corporate box, at times, looking quite disappointed with the team’s show on the field.
Sportstar caught up with him for a chat on Bangladesh cricket and the road ahead...
What are your thoughts on Bangladesh’s performance in the T20 World Cup?
Coming into this tournament, Bangladesh was not quite prepared. They were losing and did not play well in Zimbabwe, West Indies, the Asia Cup and even in Christchurch. Before this event, the preparation was not great. In this tournament, they defeated The Netherlands and Zimbabwe - two teams which qualified for the Super-12 stage. But apart from those two wins, I haven’t seen any exciting performances from Bangladesh.
This is not a bilateral series, so there are a lot of teams and a lot of players are performing all-round, so keeping that in mind, I would say, Bangladesh is improving but not in a great way.
What’s going wrong for the team?
If you talk about Test cricket, we would have said that Bangladesh was years behind (the traditional teams), or for that matter, we could still come up with a reason that Bangladesh got ODI status only in 1997. But in T20s, all teams started together, so there is no excuse in terms of why they are not competing or upgrading their rankings in T20Is.
I think Bangladesh needs to have more T20s at the domestic level, identify natural T20 talents and they must develop a skillset for this format. These are the three most important aspects of the game where Bangladesh needs to improve.
Over the years, the Bangladesh team has failed to fire as a unit in big-ticket events. Is that a serious concern?
I will give you a perfect example. Against India, the opportunity created by Bangladesh was based on a one-man show by Litton Das. There was no support performance around. For a couple of years, such performances would revolve around Shakib Al Hasan and Tamim Iqbal, with maybe Mahmudullah or Mushfiqur Rahim chipping in at times. Bangladesh has the same set of players for all three formats and their performances are inconsistent. They need to learn and understand the match scenarios better.
Against Pakistan, Shanto (Najmul Hossain Shanto) was playing well and being a set batter, he should have finished the game or should have at least been around till the 19th over, instead of throwing his wicket away. The players need to have a better game plan.
Despite not much success at the big stage, the Bangladesh Cricket Board has continued appointing overseas coaches for the last few years. What is the reason behind this move? Are there not enough homegrown coaches to fit into the role?
Having a foreign coach is always a plus because they have got international exposure, talent and ideas. When you look at homegrown coaches or try to develop homegrown coaches, the advantage is the culture and the psychological relationship with the players.
What I feel is that Bangladesh is perhaps the only full-member team, which is changing its support staff quite regularly.
See, if you change your doctors everyday, then it will be difficult for you because the new doctor needs to understand your symptoms, try out his sets of medicines and treat the patient in his style, but if you keep on changing him without giving time, things will not work.
This is a similar problem for Bangladesh. To solve this, Bangladesh should do a lot more coach development programmes in the country and focus on high-performance programmes.
So, you want the BCB to follow the Indian cricket coaching model?
Yes, we always follow our big brothers - India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. If you look at their set-up now, you will see that Sri Lanka has all homegrown coaches as the support staff, except for the head coach (Chris Silverwood). Even in India and Pakistan, homegrown coaches are at the helm and we should also follow the same thing.
Over the last few years, Shakib Al Hasan has featured a lot in franchise cricket leagues. But lately, he has been struggling with the bat. What is your assessment?
Shakib has been playing at the highest level for the last 15 years. It is great to play international events and look at teams like Sri Lanka, Afghanistan or Nepal, their players are also getting a lot of opportunities from various leagues.
In Bangladesh, only two players are just getting these opportunities, which means we need to develop T20 specialists in the country.
I am against players going out to play outside leagues, rather I want them to stick to competitive domestic cricket. When Mumbai plays against Delhi in a Ranji Trophy match or when New South Wales and Victoria play, the intensity of those games is as close to Test cricket. This is the difference between Bangladesh’s domestic cricket and that of other countries. So, for Bangladesh, the focus has to be more on domestic cricket.
Talking about Shakib, I think every player has an era and at this point, he is not performing well.
Are you trying to indicate that the Board should not allow Bangladesh players for too many overseas leagues and should rather ask them to play more domestic games?
Yes, there are two things here. If you look at the three critical successes for the high-performance system, then country-wide, you have to have a robust coaching system that can find the right talents. Those talents need to have proper access to facilities.
There has to be competitiveness, right from the U-19 level and if those high-performance aspects are not improved, you have to look at foreign leagues. I don’t think that playing foreign leagues will help our native national team, rather we should focus on domestic games.
Bangladesh has failed to live up to the expectations in the big-ticket tournaments. What should be the immediate lessons from the T20 World Cup debacle?
The most important thing is when we go back, the team needs to do a solid SWOT analysis of what’s next. You are playing a series against India next, so that is a very short-term goal for now. But ideally, Bangladesh should have a mid-term goal where it can have more young players in the system and then follow it up with a long-term goal of achieving success at the ICC events.
Bangladesh, I am sure, has short-term and long-term plans, but it has to be executed well and should be based on the currently available resources.
Since you touched upon the India tour of Bangladesh next month, do you think that with some of the Indian top players missing out on the tour, the home team has a chance to put up a strong fight?
The advantage of India at the moment is that there are plenty of options. When the T20 team left for Australia last month, the ODI side was still playing a home series against South Africa and they won it. So, there is depth in India’s high-performance cricketers. It doesn’t matter if your key players are traveling or not, but you have a bunch of players who can play competitive cricket at the highest level.
Having worked with the BCCI closely, I have realised that they are preparing their youngsters for all formats and I always believe that playing T20 cricket, you cannot create international talent, they must play multi-day cricket.
Against Bangladesh, India doesn’t need to depend on its key players, because they have enough players ready.
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