Aminul, currently a cricket development officer with the ICC, shared his memories from Bangladesh's inaugural Test and talked in details about the ongoing selection dilemma facing Bangladesh cricket.
Here are the excerpts:
How did your Test career begin?
Firstly, we never thought of playing a Test match when we started playing cricket. It didn't occur in our minds even during the World Cup (in 1999). We were an Associate member. Then, we got ODI status before taking part in the World Cup. Finally, we became a Test team. So, through every milestone and step, we had to learn. Getting Test status (in 2000) completed our journey. I was going through a bad form just ahead of the inaugural Test. But I was lucky to get selected, my experience had worked as an advantage. There were many others who were waiting in the line but I was lucky to play Bangladesh's maiden Test.
It has almost been 17 years since your hundred in Bangladesh's first Test. How do you feel when you recollect that memory?
There are centuries being scored in nearly all the Tests we are playing now. But our maiden century will always be a signature. I get to feel that. That century (against India) has become an identity for me. The feeling of scoring that century has become a part of my life now. I feel really good when people talk about it. And when I think to myself that I had scored the first century for Bangladesh, I count myself lucky.
What do you think are the Tigers' major achievements looking back in time?
We haven't achieved much, if you only talk about Tests. We have only won eight Test matches out of 100 (99). Among those, a few wins came against a very weak Zimbabwe. Our only big win in Tests was the one against England at home recently. There has been individual landmarks and we have been able to produce some good international cricketers in the shape of Tamim [Iqbal], Shakib [al Hasan] and Mushfiqur [Rahim], among others. These players are the result of our 100 Test matches. Another achievement I would say is that we have been able to establish ourselves as a competitive team. There was a time when Bangladesh were heavily criticised for poor performance in this format. Questions were raised as to whether we deserve our Test status. But we have overcome that stage and moved forward.
And the failures?
The list of failures is long. We have improved our Test ranking, we are still number nine (out of the 10 Test-playing countries). We have lost majority of the matches we have played, including by an innings. And there were times when we failed to achieve an easy draw. As a young Test-playing nation and being such an enthusiastic country, we should have done better. But lack of planning has been a drawback.
Where do you want to see Bangladesh in their 200th Test?
ICC at the moment is thinking of ranking, points and marks but I want to see Bangladesh as one of the strongest cricketing nations, which will eventually turn them into a good Test team. So I expect a much better result by the time we reach our 200th Test. I'd like to see us among the top five teams.
What is your take on the recent dilemma in the national selection process?
Every system has got a protocol. A team is selected, following which the coach and the captain share their thoughts. But for us (Bangladesh), unfortunately, it is totally different. For us, even a manager or a coach is a selector. And they are the most powerful selectors, which is never right. I feel that misuse of power has gone to an extreme level. Here, I would like to give an example. When Chandika Hathurusingha (head coach) was the assistant coach at New South Wales and coach at Sydney Sixers, he was never part of the selection process. He didn't exercise power the way he is doing right now in Bangladesh. But we have made the way for him to use his power. And if you look at the selection process, we often say, for example, that the fast bowlers are not performing. But if our selection process includes them over the experienced ones, what can we do? In between a series, a cricketer is openly blamed for his failures. It is never acceptable; one cannot diminish a player’s confidence level in this manner. Bangladesh are not following the proper protocol in the selection process. Eventually, the whole system is affecting team performance if you look closely.
A coach is often part of the selection process in many other cricket-playing countries. But do you think the Bangladesh head coach gets more authority than the others?
Although news from the dressing room does not come on record, I feel that the players panic a bit in order to keep the coach happy. The players now feel that keeping the coach happy will ensure a spot in the national team. I cannot say any name but there is one mediocre all-rounder who is getting selected over and over, despite the fact that there are many all-rounders like him. And the way the senior cricketers are being moved is affecting their confidence, I would say. It is never a good sign for a team when the confidence of your senior players have been shaken. Experience comes with time and we have to consider these facts.
As a former captain, do you have any words of encouragement for the cricketers ahead of the historic occasion?
I am a huge Bangladesh fan. I'm also a huge fan of the cricketers. I am regularly in touch with many of the cricketers and I always try to boost them in every way possible. We had lost the first Test (against Sri Lanka) due to our batting failure but in the press conference we saw only the bowlers being blamed or only one or two batsmen were named. These things are never healthy during an ongoing series. However, I am confident that our players will perform well.