Coach positive too

Bangladesh cricket coach Jamie Siddons displayed a similar sort of satisfaction like his ex-captain Mohammad Ashraful on the Tigers’ recent performance in the ICC World Twenty20 after he faced the local media for the first time yesterday since returning from Australia at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium in Mirpur.
After Bangladesh made their exit from the tournament, Siddons flew home from England on personal grounds and was scheduled to join the team directly in the West Indies. But, due to the early completion of his commitments back home he was available in town to present his views.
“We played some very good cricket in England. We scored more than 200 against Netherlands and defeated them and the same Netherlands team beat England in the first match. It’s just the match against Ireland, which has overshadowed every positive from the tournament, and it’s important to remember that it was a Twenty20 game. In a Twenty20 game the lesser teams have a great opportunity to come closer to the bigger teams and Ireland have some very good players who are playing county and Twenty20 all the time,” said a not-so-disappointed Siddons.
He expounded on all the different fine tunings that the team had had and did not hesitate to call them improvements.
“There have been improvements in the side. Tamim [Iqbal] hitting boundaries without going down the wicket, Zunaed [Siddiqui] playing hook shots which I didn’t see him play before, Shakib [Al Hasan] playing pull shots with a better back lift, Ashraful playing the cut shot which he didn’t do before and Rubel [Hossain] bowling slow balls which are tricking batters. So these are the little things where have gone better and will help us in the future.”
The Tigers’ poor international schedule for the first-half of 2009 was responsible for their disappointing show at the World Twenty20, according to coach Siddons. He however quickly termed the performance in England as disappointing soon after giving an account of all the “good cricket” that was played there.
“We did not play any international matches prior to the World Twenty20 and that’s what went wrong in England. We had such less international match practice after the Sri Lanka-Zimbabwe series, which now feels like it’s been ages. The ICC Future Tours Programme might give us less matches in the future but there will not be such yawning gaps in between tournaments. I believe the situation’s not going to work against us.”
But Siddons was honest and forthright about the problems of captaining and coaching a side like Bangladesh which supposedly has all the talent to be giant killers but got killed themselves to minnows Ireland.
“Bangladesh is a tough side to captain and coach as well. The captain does not have a [Shahid] Afridi to throw the ball to, doesn’t have a [Sanath] Jayasuriya to go open the batting for him. No [Lasith] Malinga to bowl the last four overs. But we want to do well with whatever resources we have and I think this tour of West Indies is the time for it.”
It was during Siddons’s absence that the captaincy of Bangladesh team went into the hands of Mashrafe Bin Mortaza from his predecessor Mohammad Ashraful.
“I was the first person to propose to the board that Ashraful needs a break. Let’s take the pressure off him. We all know what he is capable of and playing without the added pressure of captaincy will do him good. Mashrafe is a good choice a captain. He is a senior player in the side who has performed well for Bangladesh in the past.”
He also said that although the captain is new but the players are still the same, which gives the team a new environment and welcomed the addition of assistant coach Khaled Mahmud.
“It will be nice to have another voice around as many of you remember I lost my assistant coach Sean Williams when I was first appointed, so I look forward to working together with Mahmud whom I will need to get to know better as we have just run into each other during a few practice sessions.”
Siddons’s next assignment and his captain’s first is the tour of West Indies next month. The team departs for the Caribbean tonight and their first stop will be Barbados where they play a practice match before their first Test match on July 9 at St. Vincent. And the Aussie believes that West Indies is an important tour for the Tigers and that the wickets and conditions there will suit us.
“The wickets in the West Indies will suit us. As I have seen in the past few home series of the West Indies the pitches have been flat and have turned from the third day onwards. It will suit our batsmen, medium-pacers and spinners, so there is plenty to look forward to on this tour.”
Captain Mashrafe was positive on the eve of the Tigers’ departure to the Caribbean saying that he wanted all his players to give their hundred per cent in every match regardless of the outcome.
“The first thing I said after becoming the captain is that we have a problem with our confidence level. It’s not that we can’t play at the international level, we have played Test matches for five days in the past and beaten international teams. However, there is no use dwelling on the past and I have spoken to the boys to believe in themselves and keep their confidence high throughout the tour. We all are confident at the moment and as the captain I expect my players to hold this confidence together and do well. I know we haven’t played well in the World Twenty20 and if we start playing well from the first match we will go into the first Test match with a good momentum. As the captain I want all of them to give their hundred per cent, win or loss comes secondary to it.”
The Bangladesh team reach the Caribbean tomorrow for two Test matches and three ODIs along with one-off Twenty20 international.

Courtesy of The Daily Star

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