THE young Tigers outshone their best-ever performance of the eleventh edition of the Under-19 World Cup Cricket in 2016 in Bangladesh, when they played the semifinals against West Indies and lost by three wickets, to become the world champions in the thirteenth edition of the tournament when they defeated India by three wickets in the final at Senwes Park in Potchefstroom in South Africa on Sunday. Resounding congratulations are due to the young Tigers for their well-deserved success that has made Bangladesh proud. Akbar Ali who took the young Tigers to their maiden championship with 170–7 in 42.1 overs also deserves applause for his unbeaten 43 who, along with teammates, shepherded the side to the win after the middle order, chasing a modest target of 178 runs, had nearly thrown away the game. While the success remains a glory to relive, all this brings to the fore some issues that the national cricket managers should think about and act on to sustain the success, at least to fight out better performance from the team. Many of the players on the team at hand may earn their place in senior teams to ultimately put the national team on a strong footing, but the Bangladesh Cricket Board should have a long-running plan for the whole of domestic cricket.
The Under-19 squad that has earned the success has not undergone frequent changes of players as the national Test squad and ODI and Twenty20 teams have done. The cricket board decided a set of 20 players in 2018 to choose 15 from them and having played together for a reasonably long time, they have matured in sync and have had the grip on their roles. The result is what is at hand. Selectors should, therefore, stop experimenting with squads and give them time to mature together for better results. The Under-19 squad has all but two players from outside the capital. The board organised three levels of tournaments — Under-14, Under-16 and Under-18 — to choose 45 players from each group and the 135 players were then put on three teams for the board to pick up the set for higher training. The board should also understand that school cricket still remains an important area to work on. Players with talent and promises could be scouted if players outside Dhaka are on the whole nurtured. The government should set up cricket academies in districts for further results for that. Cricket managers have also ensured that the Under-19 squad gets enough of international exposure for experiences of varying weather conditions and different pitches. While the squad has played in other countries, including England and New Zealand, Under-19 teams of several countries have also visited Bangladesh. As the young Tigers have not played in South Africa before, they reached the host country a month before the tournament for acclimatisation and they played at least four practice matchers along with warm-up games. With better preparations come better results.
The cricket board appears not to have done with other teams what it has done with the Under-19 squad. This makes it evident what the cricket board needs to do to get better results from cricket by shoring up issues at other levels and in outlying areas. The board must now build the bulwark and stop playing on the rhetorical harp.
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