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BCB launches Bangladesh Tigers programme for top out-of-favour cricketers

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Akram Khan, BCB’s cricket operations chairman, “confused about the new programme” as it clashes with a ‘A’ team set-up

The BCB has introduced a new programme, called Bangladesh Tigers, primarily aimed at providing round-the-year training facilities for cricketers in the national scheme of things but not in the national team. Board directors Khaled Mahmud and Kazi Inam Ahmed will be in charge, which will include players who cannot be part of the Under-19 or high-performance (Under-23) set-ups.

Ahmed, at a press conference on Wednesday, outlined his plans for the programme for the “shadow” Bangladesh team. He said that the programme was expected to start immediately after the Dhaka Premier League T20s, with an initial intake of 16 to 20 cricketers who, will work with local coaching staff.

“The ‘A’ team operates on a tour-by-tour basis and it is not always easy to get tours, be it at home or away,” Ahmed said. “It is a real challenge, especially in the current scenario because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“This is a comprehensive programme for players like Imrul (Kayes), Sabbir (Rahman), Nasir (Hossain), (Anamul Haque) Bijoy or Shafiul (Islam), who have played for the national team and may play again, but they can’t play for teams like Under-19s or high-performance.”

But Akram Khan, former Bangladesh captain and the BCB’s cricket operations chairman, admitted to being “confused about the new programme”, as there is already the ‘A’ team, which comes under his department.

“I am not clear about their plan,” Khan said. “In fact, we haven’t even discussed it. I have to sit with them. The ‘A’ team usually includes those who are dropped from the national team and those who have the potential to play for the senior team. It is the same around the world.

“The Bangladesh ‘A’ team has missed a lot of tours because of Covid-19, just like the other ‘A’ teams around the world. We have been busy with the World Test Championship and the ODI Super League. If there’s a tour coming up, it will certainly be for the ‘A’ team.”

This, even as Ahmed said he was hoping to work in tandem with Khan. “We have to liaise with cricket operations. I discussed this with Akram bhai yesterday. I think it will be a very good partnership between cricket operations and the programme. When the ‘A’ team has a tour next, this can be planned together.”

The other aim of the Bangladesh Tigers programme would be to ensure top-drawer facilities for players in the domestic circuit. “We are looking at players outside the high-performance set-up, and the ones who are doing well regularly in domestic cricket,” Ahmed said. “We want to develop them because they don’t get to use the main facilities.

“We are very much aware of our limited facilities. Imrul Kayes is a classic example of a player who has been in and out of the national team. We want to make sure that when a player like him is out of the national team, they are under a programme and can have access to the same facility.”

Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo’s Bangladesh correspondent. @isam84

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