Jamie Siddons’ agenda in his latest stint in Bangladesh cricket, as batting consultant with the senior team, is to take the younger batters’ game to the next level.
“My job is half-done because the class of players is already there,” Siddons said, having joined the Bangladesh side on February 21 ahead of the ODI series against Afghanistan after a bout of Covid-19. “We are playing against Afghanistan, who have three top spinners and a world-class fast bowler. When we go against South Africa, Australia and India, they have four of those [world-class fast bowlers]. They will have quality spinners coming at us too, so there’s no respite. There are no easy runs.
“That’s where we will be challenged. That’s where we have to improve and be ready for it in their conditions. We have a long way to go to get to that point, but we are a really good cricket team. We need to continue to do that. The young players just need to take that extra step so that they perform overseas all the time.”
Speaking about specific players, Siddons pointed to Litton Das, saying, “People like Litton have done it in Test matches. I see some little things I can help him with. It is going to take time to put that last bit of class in him where he can succeed against every bowler, whether really fast bowlers or great spinners, in the world.
“It is my challenge, to make him a little bit better. Tamim [Iqbal] and those guys have reached a great level. Now we want the younger guys to even go further.”
Siddons, who had worked as Bangladesh’s head coach from 2007 to 2011, stressed that patience must be shown with the current lot despite the inconsistent returns.
“We have to remember that Tamim, Shakib [Al Hasan], Mushfiq [Mushfiqur Rahim] and [Mahmudullah] Riyad were all inconsistent when they started,” Siddons said. “We could have dropped them at any stage of their career. If Shakib wasn’t a good bowler, he would have been dropped as a batsman a lot of times before he started to succeed. But he held it together because he was a good potential batsman.
“We have got some potential superstars here. We pick the right ones, give them time and nurture them. We should give them opportunities without putting too much pressure on them. I have no doubt that they will be the new Shakibs and Tamims.”
Despite being one of the stalwarts of Bangladesh cricket, even someone like Tamim has been a bit inconsistent at times, and Siddons has plans for him too. “For me, a lot of it is footwork. Tamim wants to straighten up his front foot. It won’t happen really quickly, but we are talking about the long term. If he is going to play for the next three or four years, he has to straighten his front foot up a bit. He will have a lot more success. If he doesn’t get out lbw, they [bowlers] will find it very hard to get him out. I can see his best cricket is still ahead of him.”
Siddons had arrived in Bangladesh in early February and spent the first two weeks watching BPL matches in Dhaka and Sylhet. He was initially contacted to work at the BCB’s High Performance unit, but after Ashwell Prince resigned as the batting consultant, Siddons was given that role.
Siddons’ immediate task, he said, would be to prepare the Bangladesh T20I side for their two-match series next week.
“Afghanistan probably play better T20 cricket at the moment than they do ODI cricket, we know it is their favourite format,” Siddons said. “We know we have a lot of improvement to do from the World Cup, part of that is the first four overs, sustaining that smart aggression, and finishing the game. We have to score more runs quicker to win against Afghanistan.
“T20s is the focus because it is the next World Cup. If we can be good T20 players by October and November, we can be a much better one-day team at the end of the day in India [in 2023]. We know we have to make big scores in India to win or play well in the World Cup. We can’t get away with 260-270. We will need 320.”
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