Streak prioritises grooming pacers

Gill Saab

Yaar Malang
Heath Streak, Bangladesh's newly appointed bowling coach, wants to decrease Bangladesh's dependency on spin by creating a core group of fast bowlers. Streak has said he also keen to embrace the wider role of finding new talent and make them ready for the top-level.

Streak, the former Zimbabwe captain, arrived in Dhaka on Tuesday evening. He will work 450 days during the next two years, and will be in charge of overall bowling which includes the senior side as well as Bangladesh A and the National Cricket Academy.

"I think it is dangerous to set specific targets as you might get it done quickly and become happy," Streak said in his introductory press conference in Mirpur. "I would like to identify a group of eight or ten quick bowlers. We know spin bowling has been strong for Bangladesh. We can't relax and expect for that to continue.

"I have to learn a lot about the bowlers. I have analysed these players as an opponent both as player and coach, but now I have to understand them as individuals and personalities. The mental side of the things is what I want to work on with the guys."

Streak has asked for patience, at least till the 2015 World Cup to find improvement within the bowlers. Mashrafe Mortaza is the highest Test and ODI wicket-taker among Bangladesh pace bowlers, but his catalogue of injuries has repeatedly kept him out of action since his debut in 2001. But apart from Mashrafe, none of the pace bowlers have more than 67 ODI wickets while in Test cricket, only Mashrafe and Shahadat Hossain have more than 50 wickets.

"I know there are huge expectations, the India series is coming up soon," Streak said. "But it doesn't matter who you are, these things take time. Experience doesn't happen overnight, you cannot go to a shopping mall and buy experience. Hopefully by the World Cup we can see some consistency among the bowlers."

Youngster Taskin Ahmed recovered from a long injury lay-off after which he was handed an international debut in the World T20s. Al-Amin Hossain showed steady improvement under Shane Jurgensen while Robiul Islam gave a glimpse of his ability during the Zimbabwe Test series last year in which he was the man of the series. Rubel Hossain's ODI hat-trick last year underlined his improvement as an ODI bowler but his Test record remains poor. So far this year, eight pace bowlers (including allrounders) have been used by Bangladesh, but none of them have taken more than 15 wickets.

Streak is eager to instill a sense of professionalism among the Bangladesh bowlers, particularly by understanding their lifestyle. At the same time he hopes to identify more talented bowlers within the pipeline, and give them the best opportunities to understand conditions in other parts of the world.

"Firstly, I believe there are a couple of young guys coming through, so I am really keen to look at them," he said. "Obviously getting them to become professionals, how they eat, train is a long term thing, so we need to start that now to develop these guys and see that they are physically good enough to cope with the international level. You see many youngsters whose bodies are not strong enough to cope with the international schedule, so that's a key thing that we are going to have work with.

"You have to identify the future and identify them from a young age. It is the part of the challenge. I will work with the new coach and see where we can start to identify those bowlers for the future. We might have to convince the BCB to invest and put them abroad so that they can experience conditions there," he said.

Streak will team up with Chandika Hathurusingha, Bangladesh's new head coach, who is set to join the squad next week. He said it is paramount that the pair puts forward a similar message to the team.

"I have to make it work, I am under him," he said. "I have got to make sure my coaching philosophies and his [Hathurusingha] are going to merge together. It is to our benefits at the end of the day. If teams don't perform it's us coaches who get judged.

"When he reaches here in a few days time I will certainly be spending time with him. Hopefully he and I will have a good understanding. It's not just the players that need to be a good team, the coaching staff need to be unified. We have to give the same message to the players. It's important for them to get one consistent message," he said.