The Financial Express

What happens to Bangladesh cricket after the ‘big five’?

File photo, (Collected) File photo, (Collected)

Bangladesh cricket has come a long way in the last half of a decade or so, especially in the ODI format. Since 2015, Bangladesh as a One-Day side hasn’t been taken lightly.

In test cricket, however, Bangladesh has not quite registered themselves as an improved team yet. The Test-saga of Bangladesh hasn’t been the most pleasant to narrate, although there were some mentionable victories after 2015. While some talented individuals emerged as the reasons behind this change in the ODIs, five experienced and consistent performers are the pioneers of it.

Shakib al Hasan, Mushfiqur Rahim, Mashrafe Mortaza, Tamim Iqbal, and Mahmudullah Riyad are called the ‘Big five’ of Bangladesh cricket by their fans.

The ODI averages of Tamim Iqbal, Shakib al Hasan, Musfiqur Rahim, and Mahmudullah Riyad are 48.4, 43.6, 50.4, and 38.3 respectively since 2015.

Shakib al Hasan has recently become the lone-highest ODI wicket-taker for Bangladesh adding the 271st to his tally, overtaking Mashrafe’s 270 wickets.

Mashrafe has retired from the two formats and got dropped from the other, and many speculate they might not see the best coming from the other four standout performers after five years or so.

The currently 9th ranked team in ICC Ranking for ODIs, Sri Lanka sets an example of how unexpectedly a world-class team’s performance can decline after the retirement of some great cricketers of the nation.

Whether Bangladesh has to go back to where they were in the early 2000s or not after the retirement of the ‘big five’ depends on the future prospects and how they are utilised.

Though Shakib, Tamim, Mushfiqur, and Mahmudullah are not very close to their ODI retirement yet, the group of youngsters should be nurtured and given enough opportunities from now on.

Mustafizur Rahman proved himself as one of the most talented seamers in white-ball cricket in the world. His bowling strike rate of 26.5 is the best in ODI cricket for anyone who has played at least 50 matches is a record very little talked about.

Apart from some injuries, Mohammad Saifuddin has shown a lot of potential getting some shape with the new ball, pitching it in good areas - something Mashrafe did during the powerplay.

Mehidy Hasan is currently ranked 2nd in ICC ODI ranking for bowlers and is one of the best fielders of the team.

Mehidy Hasan has been economical, he is young, agile, and athletic. The other bowlers with some potential are Hasan Mahmud, Shoriful Islam, spinners like Nayeem Hasan, and Rakibul Hasan and if they can live up to the potential, they can be big names in Bangladesh cricket as well.

Bangladesh has found some good young cricketers from the ICC Under-19 World Cup 2020, which the team went on to win. Shamim Hossain has performed well in DPL-2021. Apart from batting with a good strike rate and average, he has been excellent in the field saving runs and almost not missing any chances. He has got his first national team call-up and is highly praised by the cricket enthusiasts of the country.

In the same DPL season, Mahmudul Hasan Joy went on to score 392 runs at an average of 43.55. The batsman averages 42.50 and 39.60 in First-class cricket and List-A matches respectively. Parvez Hossain Emon, Towhid Hridoy, and Akbar Ali also have shown their potential in the Under-19 world cup and later on.

Talking about batsmen, Liton Das is highly rated by some of our coaches and captains for his classy approach and beautiful-looking shots. The thing he lacked in the first 5 years of his career is consistency.

When it comes to young opening batsmen with potential, the names of Naim Sheikh and Nazmul Hasan Shanto must be taken into account. The left-handed openers average 44.43 and 36.66 in List-A matches respectively. Afif Hossain Dhrubo has been used rather down the order in the ODIs, but according to the fans he has the potential to perform at number 4 or 5.

Another off-spin bowling all-rounder is Mahedi Hasan, who has shown his capabilities of batting at the top order in domestic cricket. With the ball, he is effective as well.

The point is, the potential is up there in the pipeline of Bangladesh. With proper treatment of that, Bangladesh cricket can continue their relatively successful run after the last member of the ‘Big five’ retires.

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