Less than 48 hours ago, Bangladesh Under-19 side created history when they beat India in the final of the ICC U-19 World Cup to become the World Champions. In a nerve-wrecking final, riding on skipper Akbar Ali's cool and composed unbeaten 43, Bangladesh chased down the target set by India.
Being the world champions is surely a big deal. Bangladesh had never been world champions at any level and the fans will be hoping that this is just the beginning. And speaking of beginnings, this is also just a start for the Tiger cubs who brought the trophy home.
As Bangladesh have seen in the recent past, many of the U-19 stars have been rushed into the national side. The recent examples are Anamul Haque Bijoy, Mehidy Hasan Miraz, Nazmul Hossain Shanto, Mohammad Saifuddin and Afif Hossain. All of these players were provided with their international debuts within a year of their respective U-19 World Cup bouts. And now, they are in a difficult spot, trying to deal with the challenges of international cricket.
For example, Bijoy was the highest run-scorer in the 2012 U-19 World Cup. He had fared well in his early days with the senior side but with time, he has moved away from the limelight. Eight years on, he is at quite some distance from the national side.
Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) has been often criticised for lacking long-term planning but this U-19 World Cup was the brainchild of the play they devised a couple of years ago. The Akbar-led side had played 30 youth ODIs leading to the World Cup and many of the players had admitted that the cohesion of the side was created because of that.
And BCB now must plan a few steps further to protect this young Tigers so that they can convert their current heroics for the national side in the future.
Former national team cricketer Raqibul Hasan also believes that the BCB must groom them with time so that they are prepared for Test cricket in the future.
"The players in this side are full of potential but they are not fully prepared yet. The board must have them play regularly home and away, in the domestic circuit. And also, the player management must be done properly. Just winning a youth ODI World Cup is not enough. We need good players who can play Test cricket because that is the true form of the game," Mr Raqibul said.
The bowling coach of the triumphant U-19 side, Hasibul Hossain Shanto also implied on proper grooming of the players. He said, "The players must take their responsibility and develop themselves with time. But the board must take some responsibility too. They must provide the players with proper guidance."
He further added, "The board needs to invest time on the players and not rush them to the national side. They must be handed national team spots at the correct time when they are ready for it."
The leader of the U-19 side Akbar Ali also said that he was hopeful that this was just the start for them. And to ensure that this is just the beginning of more great things to come, BCB must reciprocate the planning they had done a couple of years back.