In this time of home quarantine and lockdowns, selecting a best XI seems to become the rage amongst the sports fans. So, here we are delving into the on-going trend.
This is an attempt to select the best ever Test XI for Bangladesh. So, in choosing that, we made sure that everyone solely was judged by their exploits with the red ball.
This will be an eleven that suits Bangladeshi playing style best. Selecting 11 from a bucket of 96 capped players was never going to be easy and of course, like all other dream XIs, this one also might spring a debate or two.
But that is the fun part of doing this. So, let's begin.
The first name on the list was a no brainer at all. For their first 19 years of Test cricket, one name emerged as the best opener for Bangladesh in all the formats. Tamim Iqbal. The southpaw is undoubtedly the Tigers' most prolific run-scorer and an easy choice for the first slot.
After his inception in the format in 2008, he has scored almost four and a half thousand runs at an average of almost 40. Pure class.
However, selecting Tamim's partner was not easy as Bangladesh have always suffered for a solid opening pair since day one. Two names were forerunners, Javed Omar and Shahriar Nafees. Though they were miles apart in technic and approach, they had similarities in numbers. The gritty and sturdy Omar scored 1,720 runs in 40 Test at 22.05. On the other hand, the flamboyant and free-flowing Nafees scored 1,267 runs at 26.39 in 24 Tests. With very little to separate them, we are going for the opening combination of left and right. So, Javed Omar, it is.
There can be only one suitable candidate for this, Mominul Haque, Bangladesh's most consistent batsman in the longer version for the last five years. He prefers the position and scored heaps of runs for the team. When he gets runs, Mominul makes sure that he gets a big one.
Let's start this section with the most consistent performer from the early era of Tiger's Test adventures. The incomparable Habibul Bashar. When Bangladesh were learning the tricks of the hardest trade in cricket, he was head and shoulders above his peers. On many occasions, Bashar's valiant efforts were the only thing worth mentioning for the Tigers. Also, he will lead the side.
At number five comes perhaps the most controversial character in Bangladesh cricket. Mohammad Ashraful, the prodigal son. His career will always be "what might have been" but it is undeniable what Ashraful meant for a young Bangladesh Test team. His arrival announced a new dawn of youth, fearlessness and pride in the sport in the country. His figures might not look good handsome in comparison to his contemporaries. But Ashraful's appeal goes beyond just the numbers.
After Ashraful, comes Bangladesh's most accomplished Batsman in all three formats. Mushfiqur Rahim. No need to lay out his achievements, his record speaks for itself. The diminutive genius captained Bangladesh, scored the highest Test innings for the team, batted for his life on innumerable occasions. This man has seen and done it all. And yes he keeps wickets too!
Shakib Al Hasan
It was the easiest choice, after Mushfiqur, comes his great friend and the greatest cricketer Bangladesh have ever produced, Shakib Al Hasan. So, unique and voluminous are his feats that at times it feels like two cricketers are playing with the same name. Truly, Shakib can get into a XI solely as a batsman or a bowler. Already he is leaps and bounds over his peers as a bowler. With his canny left-arm orthodox spin, Shakib won many matches on his own. Also, with his bat, he is amongst the three top run-getters in this format for his country. An all-time great in world cricket for sure.
First, the spinners. Bangladesh have produced a plethora of spinners since the very beginning. The likes of Enamul Haque jr, Abdur Razzak, Sohrawardy Shubho, Shohag Gazi, Mehedy Miraz and Taijul Islam, played their part in the success of the Tigers. Of course, there is Shakib Al Hasan with his all-conquering stature, but keeping him and the others in mind, it might be said that the greatest Test match spinner Bangladesh have produced is Mohammad Rafique.
Hugely popular in the local circuit in the 90s, Rafique got the opportunity to play Test cricket when he was 30. But, grabbed whatever time he had and etched his name in Bangladesh cricket history as the first bowler to register 100 wickets. Also, he was no mug with the bat either. Rafique had one Test century and four half-centuries for Bangladesh.
Helping Shakib and Rafique with spin is another underrated performer, Taijul Islam. He is the second most successful bowler in Tests for Bangladesh. Deadly in spinning conditions, Taijul can play a defensive role behind the aggressive Shakib and Rafique. Also, on his day he can churn up quick wickets on his own. So it is going to be a three-man spin attack.
As our spinner trident is confirmed, we are going for three quicks. First is obviously Mashrafe Mortaza. The Narail Express was Bangladesh's original speedster. He bowled with a lot of fire and hostility. Series of injuries meant he won't reach the iconic heights of the shorter formats with the red-ball, but there is no doubt about his prowess and class.
Mashrafe's new-ball partner Shahadat Hossain gained notoriety both on and off the field. But, no one can deny his efforts for Bangladesh. The way he bowled his heart out in these barren conditions is commendable.