Jubair Hossain Likhon, the 22-year old leg-spinner, who was once regarded as one of the most promising prospects of Bangladesh cricket, missed the chance to come back into contention after the tour game between the Australians and BCB XI was canceled due to a waterlogged Khan Shaheb Osman Ali Stadium in Fatullah.
Jubair now needs to wait a little longer to prove his worth for future selection in the national team. He is in contention to tour with the BCB’s High Performance team to England. But what happened to the leggie, who was so highly regarded that after he was excluded in Bangladesh’s 2015 World Cup squad, the head coach Chandika Hathurusingha called a separate press conference to voice his discontent?
Well, the answer is given by the leg-spinner himself.
“I think obviously I had some areas where I fell behind,” Jubair told Dhaka Tribune.
“If I play well then I would have been picked. If I can’t perform then I will be dropped. It is quite natural. Probably I did not perform upto the mark or according to expectation, that’s why I was dropped. So now I am trying to work with several coaches in the HP team and trying to get back to the national team by correcting my mistakes,” he said.
Jubair informed that getting the opportunity in the HP team will help him to get back on track.
“My preparation and training are going good. I am getting a lot of game time in the HP team. I have played quite a few practice matches here. Played against U-19, then played against Australia Invitational XI last month. Getting game time is really helping me,” he explained.
Bangladesh have improved significantly in term of fitness and individual performance over the past few years. At one time last year, it was rumoured that Jubair was unfit in accordance with the national team standard. But Jubair denies such allegation, although he said there was something to improve upon then.
“I believe I have no lacking in fitness. In the matches, I was never slow. I was always fit during match time. But I was behind in the skin-fold test. So I think if I could have reduced that skin-fold it would have been better for me. After working with HP, my fitness has improved and I think I have to continue this in future,” he said.
A leg-spinner is a rarity in top-level cricket these days, not just in Bangladesh. Modern cricket still needs leg-spinners as such kind of art has usually been considered a wicket-taking option for many decades. But to get wickets, leg-spinners often have to bowl aggressively and thus there is always the chance of conceding more runs. But that’s the beauty of leg-spinning – getting the wicket of a batsman by luring him to play attacking shots.
Jubair has the potential to become a good option for the Bangladesh bowling attack, as many had observed during his limited time in international cricket. But the reality is that he was rarely seen in action even in domestic circuit. The player is fit and ready to bowl but unfortunately the local teams are not supporting a young leg-spinner to get some game-time and gain confidence. After making his debut in 2014, Jubair managed to play only 19 first-class matches and 17 List A matches. As a spinner, it’s relatively low considering the spin-friendly wickets in the domestic circuit.
Jubair played two seasons in the Dhaka Premier Division Cricket League. He played for Abahani in the 2016 season and took 13 wickets in seven matches. In 2017, he played for Mohammedan and took part in only three league matches in which he took four wickets. It wasn’t an eye-catching performance but every bowler needs time to settle down, particularly leg-spinners. But if a player like Jubair can get just three matches in a season then how can he bloom fully as a bowler?
The game time for Jubair in the National Cricket League, the country’s first-class competition, is even poorer. He played for Dhaka Metropoils in the 2016-17 season, playing only two matches. He bowled just 13 overs in one innings without getting any wicket. It is certainly not enough for a leg-spinner in a longer-version game. This is why Jubair hasn’t been able to fulfill his potential yet.
Meanwhile, the young leggie Jubair, who follows Shane Warne as his idol, vowed to come back strongly and determined to work hard to get back to the national team.
"Definitely I am trying to get back into the national team. In the HP team I can bowl in the centre wicket, getting game time and also playing practice matches. I was lacking game-time. But after coming to the HP team, I have played 10-15 matches so far. So actually it helps me,” he said.
“If I am able to come back to the team this time, I will try to stay longer and build a long career. Being dropped, getting back and then again being dropped is not good for a player. So I am trying to achieve something good from the HP camp and get back to the national team as there are lots of matches ahead," he concluded.