2015 was certainly the most successful year for Bangladesh cricket in recent memory. The Tigers reached the quarter-finals of the World Cup, beat Pakistan, India and South Africa on home soil to reach the seventh position in the ICC ODI rankings, which led them to qualify for the Champions Trophy in 2017.
The recipe behind the success was a balanced team. Bangladesh have had the likes of Shakib Al Hasan, Tamim Iqbal, Mashrafe Mortaza, Mushfiqur Rahim, and Mahmudullah Riyad for a long time, but what made them special in 2015 was their youngsters. The young guns performed extra-ordinarily in that year, but since then it has been a downhill ride for the likes of Soumya Sarker, Mustafizur Rahman, Sabbir Rahman, and Taskin Ahmed.
All of them were considered to be future world-beaters considering their form, but now Mustafizur alone carries the beacon of hope. But even him lagged behind seamers like Kagiso Rabada and Jasprit Bumrah, who came into the limelight almost at the same time as the Fizz.
The main problem is, players like Soumya, Sabbir, and Liton Das are still considered as new-bees of the team, even though they have been in the national team for more than four years. Among the three, Sabbir is the oldest at 27 and Soumya is 26, Liton is 24. At this age, players are supposed to hit their peak and be a mainstay of the team. In the case of these youngsters, the situation is completely opposite. All of them have been in and out of the team, and that is only because of their poor form since the mercurial 2015.
Soumya broke into the team in 2014 and made himself an automatic choice with a decent World Cup run. He hit the board running in the Pakistan series, where he scored a magnificent 127 not out in the last ODI. Soumya continued his form throughout the year as he ended on 672 runs from 15 matches, averaging over 50. It was a relief that at last Tamim Iqbal's long-searched opening partner was found, but the comfort soon turned into annoyance.
Soumya has managed to score only 1026 runs in 39 matches since the start of 2016 in ODIs, at an average of 28. This average drops down to 23.66, if 2018 is not taken into consideration, the year where he scored 255 runs in 6 innings. Soumya's T20 records are poor overall, as he has managed to average 16.79 in 43 matches, scoring 722 runs. His off form in periods have left Bangladesh team in a complete delusion of whom to pick to partner Tamim, which has the Tigers not finding a settled opening partnership for more than three years.
Sabbir Rahman showed promise in the earlier parts of his career as an attacking batsman Bangladesh were looking for in the death overs, but with time, he only managed to disappoint. His ODI career average stands at 25.63. He never managed to utilize his full potential, and some might blame Chandika Hathurusinghe for using Sabbir as a No.3, which was a complete failure. But the blame falls more on the player than anyone else, as he averaged around 30 in 2016 and had his maiden ODI century this year in New Zealand. His T20 record is pretty decent though. He averages 25.54 in the shortest format. But even there, his performances have not been consistent except the year 2016.
Liton Das, who is mostly remembered for his outstanding 121 against India in the 2018 Asia Cup final, has been another example of inconsistency. He showed splashes of brilliance every now and then, but consistency has always been a problem. The 24-year old averages only 24.77 in ODIs, and 20.5 in T20Is. Liton has managed to get out in single figures for 15 times in his 33-match career. And if you set the bar at 20, the batsman has failed to cross it a staggering 19 times. For a batsman considered as one of the biggest talents the country, the numbers are frustrating to say the least.
Mustafizur Rahman is the only one who has continued to perform on a regular basis. Whereas his contemporaries have honed their skills across all formats, Mustafiz is still reliant heavily on his off-cutters, which was mysterious at the beginning but seem to lose its mystery. That has made him more predictable and far easier to play, as a result the bowler often struggles in foreign conditions.
There might be problems in the technique or the mentality of the players, but what is necessary right now is to get them out of the bubble that they are still the young guns of the team. They should understand that it is high time for them to grow up. They must show their prowess or else find themselves out of the team. Soumya found the truth in a hard way, as he was dropped from the squad of the tri-nation series. They must answer the question the whole country has been asking for a while now that is, when will they grow up?
They must find an answer quickly. Or else, they must make way for the others.