Back in August 2017, Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) appointed former Indian left-arm spinner Sunil Joshi as Bangladesh’s spin bowling consultant. Their tweakers have done reasonably well in all the formats. Shakib Al Hasan, Mehidy Hasan Miraz, Taijul Islam, Nazmul Islam and Nayeem Hasan have consistently been able to get under the skins of the opposition batsmen.
Bearing in mind Joshi’s successful stint, the BCB has decided to extend Joshi’s tenure and he will now stay until the 2019 World Cup in England and Wales. Quite expectantly, Joshi was ecstatic after the extension. He thanked the cricket board and also mentioned how the team has shown confidence to roll over the giants after their impressive show in the 2015 World Cup, reports Cribuzz.
“It’s a great opportunity, and am thankful to the Bangladesh Cricket Board for having kept the trust in me,” Joshi, who played 69 One-Day Internationals between 1996 and 2001, said from Chittagong on Sunday (November 25), a day after Bangladesh registered their first Test win at home against Windies. “There is a very positive vibe within the team, having won the ODI and T20I series against WIndies earlier this year, as well as getting to the final of the Asia Cup and losing very narrowly to India. There are a lot of positives.
The players have started believing in themselves since their wonderful run to the semifinal at the 2015 World Cup. They are no longer satisfied at pushing the top teams in the world, they are confident that they can beat them both in white-ball and red-ball cricket, which has given the thrust to the players and to me as well.”
Joshi played either side of the 1999 World Cup – in the tri-series in Sharjah in April and the Coca-Cola Cup in Singapore in September – but was left out for the megaevent as India went with the off-spin of Nikhil Chopra to complement Anil Kumble. Interestingly, he hasn’t played a single ODI in England, where he made his Test debut, in Birmingham, in June 1996.
However, he has tremendous knowledge of what to expect from England and, alongside head coach Courtney Walsh, is well positioned to plan the roadmap for the World Cup. “It is very important to play a good brand of cricket.
We have been doing well in white-ball cricket, showing more consistency in the middle overs with the bat while chasing, and focusing on PowerPlay bowling, which really makes a difference,” he pointed out. “Those are the areas we are focusing on as far as white-ball is concerned. The slog overs block has been employed differently by different teams. They attack in different blocks, depending on what their strengths are. We need to be prepared for that. The moment you smell something, you should be able to adapt.”
There has been a distinct recent global slant towards wrist spinners and mystery bowlers. Bangladesh have a very competent core group of finger spinners, but the net is being cast, Joshi revealed, to unearth ‘mystery’ during the Bangladesh Premier League starting on January 5.
“I have put together of a plan of sorts for a spin talent hunt during the upcoming edition of the Bangladesh Premier League,” said the 48-year-old Joshi, who was Oman’s spin coach during the 2016 World T20 in India. “The board has approved the talent hunt programme. We are looking for mystery spinners, and we are doing so aggressively – spinners with mystery action, wrist spinners, be it left-arm or right-arm. If we get some promising leads, we can follow up accordingly.
“For me, white-ball cricket is all about keeping the pressure on. And especially in the PowerPlay, you have got to pick up wickets. Batsmen will be looking to hit boundaries and sixes in the PowerPlay, that’s the time when we have the best chance to pick up wickets as well. When I played, I always looked for wickets rather than trying to bowl a dot-ball or a maiden over. If you pick up a couple of wickets when the field restrictions are on, the opposition is are already under pressure. Then you can capitalize by bowling dot-balls and maiden overs.”
Bangladesh haven’t had a great time in Test cricket this year, losing four Tests on the trot which included a series defeat at home against Sri Lanka and a 0-2 rout in the Caribbean, topped off by a debilitating defeat in Sylhet’s debut as a Test centre against Zimbabwe earlier this month. However, things are looking up currently, as evidence by successive wins against the Zimbabweans and Windies, with a further Test due in Mirpur against Kraigg Brathwaite’s men next week.
“Especially after the series loss in the Caribbean, we sat down and did a lot of work. Plenty of backroom planning and analysis was undertaken to see what we require our spinners to do at the highest level, especially when they are playing red-ball cricket,” Joshi observed.
“It is essential for any spinner, when he plays red-ball cricket, to be consistent. As a spinner, there is always the pressure to balance the economy rate with wicket-taking abilities.
To fully grasp that, the players have to be really focussed and be consistent at bowling in one area. For that, you require a certain kind of skill. And for that skill to blossom, you require constant monitoring on a daily basis.
“It is all about the mind. The spinners need to have the mindset of eliciting shots from the batsman. Therefore, it is important for him to come back and bowl the next ball at the same place after getting hit for a boundary, without deviating from the game plan,” he elaborated. “More often than not, when a spinner gets hit, natural instinct will almost dictate that he change either his line or his length the next ball. In Test cricket, you don’t need to do that. By sharing that information, by repeating those things on a daily basis and monitoring them, talking to them, that is what we have built on in the last one year. The classic example is that of Taijul (Islam, the left-arm spinner). In the last year, he has been playing only one form of cricket, which is red-ball. I am so glad that he has come of age. He has taken four five-wicket hauls in his last Test six innings, which is a fantastic achievement.”
What made Taijul’s feat even more impressive, Joshi said, was that he showed immediate adaptability despite operating with different makes of cricket balls in a quick turnover period. “We played with a different ball against Zimbabwe, we are using a different ball against Windies. With Zimbabwe, it was the SG Test, now it is Kookaburra. The reason for the change of brand is largely tactical. Windies are coming off a Test series in India, where they sort of got used to playing with the SG Test ball, whereas at home, they use Duke’s. Our boys are equally equipped to play with both SG Test and the Kookaburra. It’s these sorts of tactical aspects that we focus on. Taijul has adapted to the different balls so quickly. We are playing four Tests in four weeks, back-to-back, and the way he has responded to the challenge thus far has been brilliant.
“There is equal onus on the coach and the player — you are being constantly reminded of the need for a consistent line, of a repeatable action, of the number of balls you need to bowl in practice. And the best part of it all is Shakib’s presence. The captain really makes a difference to the team and leads from the front. Though he is coming back from injury, it never looks like he was away.”