Who calls the shots for Bangladesh Test side?

Mashfiq Mizan | Thursday, 7 April 2022

Experts and fans were baffled when Bangladesh Test skipper Mominul Haque decided to bowl first after winning the toss in the first Test at Durban.

The decision to play with only one frontline spinner in Mehidy Hasan Miraz also raised plenty of eyebrows.

Durban is known for its spinning wickets and it gets increasingly difficult to face them in the fourth innings as the pitch breaks.

This was precisely the case as it took just 55 minutes and 13 overs for South African spin duo Keshav Maharaj and Simon Harmer to wrap the game up on the fifth day of their first Test against Bangladesh.

Left-arm spinner Maharaj registered his best bowling figure at home, bagging seven wickets or 32 runs in 10 overs. Off-spinner Harmer bagged three in the second innings as the two spinners accounted for all the ten wickets of the visitors.

This left everyone asking how Bangladesh team management under South African head coach Russel Domingo and Protea legend Alan Donald made such a grave strategical error.

A separate section of the fanbase was sceptical about whether the defensive mindset came from elsewhere. Several media reports suggest the latter might just be true.

Cricbuzz reported that Domingo suggested batting first after winning the toss but a couple of seniors vetoed it.

''It's difficult to say without sitting face to face with them. I know both coaches (Domingo and Donald) briefed them about the wicket and suggested it will be difficult to bat in the latter parts of the game as it would turn,“ Cricbuzz quoted Bangladesh Cricket Board president Nazmul Hasan.

''Certainly, they (South African coaching staff) would know better about their own conditions. I heard Mominul say that it is his own decision. I know some senior batsmen said that they did not want to bat first and that has been the case for a while.

"Perhaps he listened to them (seniors) as he will be playing with them in the team. What can I do? I don't have anything to say,” he added.

“Whenever I talk to the coach, there is a huge difference (in opinion between some players and the coach). I think we all have to sit but what I have learned is that things have improved a lot from what it was before (in the dressing room); but with this decision (ignoring the coach's suggestion regarding batting first) I am not sure what is happening,” a puzzled BCB chief observed.

However, Bangladesh captain Mominul Huq took all responsibilities for the decisions on his own shoulder following the post-match press conference although several Bangladeshi media outlets reported the decision to not bat in the first innings was in fact taken by the seniors.

Another media report suggested that Mushfiqur Rahim and Tamim Iqbal were stern in their decision of bowling first in the Durban Test despite the team management clearly thinking otherwise.

The report claims that Mominul was latter coerced into backtracking from his original decision by the seniors on the team.

Despite all his success, Hatura Singh was criticised in the Bangladeshi cricket circuit for his strict headmaster role as a coach and his attempt to break the monopoly of a few in the dressing room, which ultimately led to his departure.

On the other hand, Russel Domingo represents the opposite side of the coin. Even Russell has been accused of getting rid of senior players and creating a rift in the dressing room every time he tried being slightly authoritative for the greater good.

Besides, the inclusion of Khaled Mahmud Sujan as a ‘ Team Director’ and Jamie Siddons as a batting consultant might have further undermined his authority in the national team setup.

All these further reaffirmed the question of who is in charge of the Tigers’ den.

Besides, Mominul Haque is no longer a junior campaigner. He needs to put his hands up and establish his authority in the dressing room as soon as possible if he wants to carry on as the leader of the Test side.

Without clear leadership, things can fall apart within a very short time; the 55 minutes on the fifth day at Durban was nothing but a testament to that fact.

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