Legspin finally earns long-awaited rewards for Bangladesh

Legspinners Rishad, Aminul Islam and Minhajul Abedin Afridi - all part of the High Performance programme - were each assigned to the three teams in the BCB President's Cup, a one-day tournament designed to ease Bangladesh’s top cricketers back into competitiveness after the long pandemic break, reports Crickinfo.

But none of the three has bowled their full quota of ten overs yet. Afridi, who was plucked out of a net session in Chittagong two years ago by chief selector Minhajul Abedin, has only bowled one over in the tournament so far. Islam and Hossain too have bowled just 27.1 overs between them, taking seven wickets. That has left them with at most two or three remaining opportunities to remain viable options before the 2020-21 domestic season proper begins. While the BCB President's Cup has the Bangladesh team management in control of selection, the subsequent domestic tournaments will not.

The BCB President's Cup will be followed by a T20 tournament next month, with the remainder of the 2019-20 Dhaka Premier League likely to be held just after that. There's no certainty if even one from the trio would be chosen in the T20s, with Islam having played only one DPL match. Moreover, there's no assurance if any team in the upcoming tournaments would select a legspinner in their playing XI even if any of them bowl well in the ongoing practice matches.

The Russell Domingo-led team management too wants a legspinner, as would any coach who wants to have attacking bowlers in their line-up. The BCB tried to support him last season by instructing the National Cricket League (NCL) and the BPL teams to pick legspinners. They even fired couple of coaches for not listening to the instruction but largely, legspinners kept getting ignored.

One man who also has a lot of interest in bringing in legspinners into the picture is the incumbent chief selector Abedin. He even selected 21-year-old Afridi in a practice match against Zimbabwe two years ago after seeing him in the nets in Chittagong. Abedin also advised Islam to become a full-time legspinner when he was in the High Performance programme last year.

Abedin believes that such practice matches are the only place where these bowlers will be given a fair go in match situations, and also feels that they should be given more chances in major domestic tournaments.

“Rishad [Hossain] bowled well in this tournament while [Aminul Islam] Biplob will need a bit of time and [Minhajul Abedin] Afridi is injured,” Abedin told ESPNcricinfo. “We want to closely observe their ability. We haven't been able to arrange these type of matches in the last two years.

“They have to play under different managements once they go into competitive cricket, but those don't usually select legspinners. I have always advised them to give legspinners the opportunities to play but our [DPL] club culture is different. But we will try to ensure that the legspinners get to play first-class matches this season.”

Abedin said that they have plans for each one of them, but all depends on how the domestic clubs and first-class sides treat them in the remainder of the season. “Biplob is more of a shorter-version bowler, but I think we can work with Rishad in the longer version. Afridi has to be played in both formats. I think all three must play a lot of matches which will improve their skills. There's no point in telling them to practice all year if they are not picked in matches,” he said.