Connecting with players, monitoring 'feeder systems' high on Domingo's agenda

ESPN Cricinfo

22nd August, 2019 12:35:00 printer

Connecting with players, monitoring 'feeder systems' high on Domingo's agenda

Russell Domingo's appointment as the seventh Bangladesh head coach in eight years does suggest a somewhat rough next few months for the South African, but he sounded upbeat and up for the challenge in his first interaction with the media after reaching Dhaka.

The theme was adapting to Bangladesh's ways, and not expecting the players to adapt to his style, while also stressing that "monitoring the players just beneath the national side" would be one of his targets.

No Bangladesh head coach has completed his tenure since Jamie Siddons left in 2011, and it has been a bit of a rough and tumble at the best of times. But, if making the right noises is a good start, Domingo played it well to begin with.

"We [the overseas coaching contingent, including new bowling coach Charl Langeveldt] can't expect Bangladesh cricket to adapt to us, we've got to adapt to Bangladesh cricket. And we've got to find a way to make our processes and our systems work with the cricket organisation and with the players," Domingo said. "So we might need to alter the way we go about things to fit in with the culture, more so than the culture changing to fit in with us.

"My immediate goal is to make some sort of connection with the players, to understand the players, build some relationships over the next week or two - I think that's massively important, to try and gain the players' trust, see how the players go about their work."

With the domestic structure in a bit of a shambles, the emergence of quality new players hasn't always happened in an ideal manner. This was an aspect Domingo had also stressed on in his presentation to the Bangladesh Cricket Board.

"Because I have worked at a lot of different levels of cricket, from Under-15 to Under-17 to domestic cricket to international cricket, I think I am very aware of how important feeder systems are," he explained. "That's where your next tier of players come from. I want to place a lot of emphasis on monitoring the players just beneath the national side, and when there are opportunities to play some of those players, you need to take those opportunities.

"And it can't be for one or two games, you need to try and give players a little bit of a run. Young players especially, so they can find their feet in international cricket. We've got a good national side but it's important that we are evaluating the players just below the national side to sustain the success of Bangladesh cricket.

"After our [triangular T20I] series against Zimbabwe and Afghanistan, I'm hoping to go to Sri Lanka to watch the 'A' side play. It's impossible to watch all the cricket, there's no doubt about that. I've got to make sure I surround myself with people I can trust, selectors who are going to give me good inputs, connect with the high-performance coaches, with the 'A' side coaches, and find out who they think the best players are that we can invite closer to the national side."

Bangladesh are a team on the ascendance, especially at home, where they have had some excellent results in the last few years. But an eighth-place finish at the recent World Cup - where Shakib Al Hasan almost single-handedly drove their fortunes - and then a 3-0 ODI series defeat in Sri Lanka has hurt the team and their legions of fans.

"I don't think they are a bad team because they lost to Sri Lanka. Touring straight after a World Cup is always going to be hard. Sri Lanka probably had a bit more to gain from it with a few players leaving, it was the last game for Lasith [Malinga], [Nuwan] Kulasekara was given a farewell, they had a bit more to prove," Domingo said. "The World Cup performances, I thought they played really well. They were really close to winning some of the games that they lost.

"You think of the game against New Zealand, maybe a missed run out [of Kane Williamson, by Mushfiqur Rahim] cost them the game. The margins of winning and losing international games are minimal, so … I think the team is really close to becoming a real force in world cricket. If they just make the right decisions, at the right times, on the right days, I don't think they are really very far off other sides at the moment.

"The log will say they ended in seventh [eighth], I think they played better than that. And I've been in international cricket long enough to know that sometimes the results can hinge on a decision here and there, so it's not always a fair reflection of where you are as a team. There were a lot of positives to come out of the World Cup that they can build on going forward for sure. There are a lot of areas they can improve in, but there were a lot of positives in the World Cup."

While Bangladesh have shown promise in 50-overs cricket, results in Test matches and T20Is have largely been disappointing, and that's something Domingo is aware of.

"It's hard to get any sort of rhythm in your Test match cricket if you're not playing that many Test matches. With the new Test Championship, that allows a team to focus a lot more on Test match cricket. We know often Bangladesh play one- or two-Test series. Hopefully now there will be three-Test series, four-Test series, which gets them more into that format," he said. "A lot of that focus now needs to move away from the World Cup and the 50-over format into Test match cricket. So it will be a good start to put a lot more focus and emphasis on our red-ball skills in the next couple of months.

"It's a massive opportunity for Bangladesh to compete regularly in Test match cricket. Their last Test match was maybe six months ago, we can hardly remember when it was. The more you play the better you're going to get in the format. That's probably where they have been lacking, they haven't played a lot of Test match cricket. If you look at England, Australia, India, and weigh those up against the number of Tests Bangladesh have played, you can understand why they are the leading sides in the world in that format."

To be a leading side, however, there are many creases to iron out, and a big one is the country's fast bowling. And that's where Langeveldt comes in.

"That's a challenge. When I was coaching in Afghanistan, it was a challenge there too. If you can rectify that, if you can strike with the new ball, it will make life easier for the spinners, and you will compete a lot more in 50-overs and Test cricket," he said. "It could be a small thing, a technical thing. The new ball is important in one-day cricket, even in Test cricket, especially in these conditions.

"The test for me is going to be to find seamers that can bowl outside Bangladesh, that can bowl in conditions in South Africa, Australia. If you look at India now, they've got three seamers and they are winning games in South Africa and Australia. We've got to find somehow seamers, so when we go abroad, in those conditions we can compete."