Bangladesh could have done without constantly shuffling batting order, admits Shanto

Alastair Cook announces retirement from professional cricket

Bangladesh stand-in captain Najmul Hossain Shanto has said the team would have been better without the constant changing of the batting order in the World Cup. This admission by a member of the Bangladesh team came at the end of Bangladesh’s poor campaign, after regular captain Shakib Al Hasan and the management had defended the decision on previous occasions.

Bangladesh changed their lineup in almost every match of the tournament. Apart from the first two, Litton Das and Tanzid Hasan, the match was too fluid. “To be honest, it’s better if we don’t change the batting order anymore,” Shanto said after the loss against Australia. “Sometimes you have to do (shuffling) against certain teams, depending on their strengths. But I think the less we do it, (the better). There was a lot of (shuffling) at the World Cup, but it was done with a positive intention. Yes we don’t do it at all, even better.”

The Bangladesh management had put a lot of faith in someone like Mehidy Hasan Miraz, whose astonishing batting form saw him move up and down the order. While it was creditable to use it to disrupt the opposition’s plans, this led to other more established players batting out of position. The move also did not always bear fruit, especially against better bowling attacks. He played at No. 3 against Afghanistan, New Zealand and the Netherlands, displacing Shanto, whose success with the bat in all formats in the 12 months leading up to the World Cup was at No. 3.

Players like Towhid Hridoy and Shakib also did not have fixed batting positions. Hridoy was groomed as an ODI No. 5 and had been playing in that position since his debut earlier this year, but he mostly batted at No. 7 in this World Cup. His best innings came against Australia, when he was sent at number 4.

Assistant coach Nic Pothas also explained that these changes are part of “modern cricket”. After Bangladesh lost to the Netherlands in Kolkata, Shakib offered very little when asked why Mahmudullah and Mushfiqur Rahim were still in top form. Only after that defeat did Bangladesh choose stability over experimentation, a move understood to have come about because BCB president Nazmul Hasan had sent instructions to stop the mixing.

Still, head coach Chandika Hathurusinghe said before the Sri Lanka match that batting in ODIs did not depend on the batsmen’s positions but on the time at which they came to bat.

The change in the batting order was not the only reason for Bangladesh’s disappointing World Cup campaign. Shanto pointed out his inability to convert openings into big scores and his difficulty in adapting from slow, low pitches at home to those in India, where pace and bounce were a little more realistic.

In the Pune match against Australia, Hridoy scored 74, while the rest of the other six specialist batsmen failed to convert their openings. Shanto said when the top order doesn’t fire, it puts the rest of the batsmen under more pressure.

“I don’t want to talk about individual players,” Shanto said. “We didn’t do well as a team. The top-order batsmen got more opportunities. If we had had big scores from the top, we could have been in better positions. We are hopeful that they will score big in the future.

“Litton (The) bhai, (Tanzid Hasan) Tamim and I started. We couldn’t take advantage of most of them. Our goal in the future is to build on these beginnings. We say it over and over again, but we have to do it. We need to practice accordingly. Play on certain types of wickets. “I hope that this World Cup will help us in the future.”

Shanto himself hasn’t had a great World Cup, especially compared to his pre-tournament form. He made 222 runs at 27.75 with just two fifties and bagged two ducks in the first ball. However, by not sugarcoating either his own performance or that of his team, Shanto has demonstrated the type of direct conversation that characterizes a good leader. The BCB top brass is considering him for the Test captaincy later this month.

“We couldn’t win any of the games I captained,” he said. “There was pressure to face two great teams. I think there was a lot to learn, which will help me in the future. I have been leading teams for a while now. I think I am personally ready (for the captaincy). If the opportunity, I will try to do it well.