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Bangladesh: Not Playing Now XI

09/06/2016 09:29 | Updated 09 June 2016

The Bangladesh cricket team has never been better. World Cup quarter finalists, seventh in the one day rankings and with recent series wins against India, South Africa and Pakistan - it's no surprise that when Bangladesh fans come up with their all-time eleven - it tends to skew heavily towards the current line up.

But what if we were to consider a Bangladesh Best XI formed entirely of players who weren't in the current set up and pick from Bangladesh teams that weren't as successful as the current squad?

This is my Bangladesh Not Playing Now XI.

1. Javed Omar
A man who, on test debut, carried his bat through an innings. I'd never seen anything like it. He makes my team because he was an opener that, unlike many of his peers, could protect his wicket.

Sadly, at times, he looked as though he'd forgotten that he needed to score runs. We used to joke that Javed Omar could save a test match - even if the test match was a one-day game and would often will him to get out so that the other batsmen could come in and score some runs.

An underrated anchor in the Bangladeshi line up, he'd eventually lose his place to a young Junaid Siddique, who'd got everyone excited by scoring a half century on international debut - albeit in a dead rubber against Pakistan.

2. Shahriar Nafees
Four one day hundreds and one test century. Touted as a future captain, he became the fastest Bangladeshi to reach 1000 ODI runs (in 29 matches) and the first to achieve the feat in a calendar year.

Fluctuating form meant that Nafees struggled to keep his place in the side. in 2012 he wasn't offered a central contract, with Imrul Kayes and Nazimmudin now battling to be alongside Tamim Iqbal at the top of Bangladesh's team sheet.

3. Habibul Bashar (captain)
In 2005 if I'd known where to buy a Bangladesh cricket shirt I'd have had his name on the back of it.

One of the batting line up from Bangladesh's pre-test status days, Bashar would captain the team in some of our greatest moments - beating Australia in Cardiff, our first test victory and the wins at the 2007 World Cup. He scored thirty-eight half centuries across all formats - but was often criticised for not converting those good starts into centuries - he only scored three, all in test matches.

During the World Cup in 2007 Bashar had the same look on his face that your uncle does when he picks up the bat during a cricket match with your cousins. With teenagers like Shakib Al Hassan, Mushfiqur Rahman and Tamim Iqbal looking breaking into the team, I wonder if Bashar, at times, felt like one.

He'd eventually lose captaincy to Mohammed Asharaful. In a recent interview he said that Bangladesh would have done better if he'd stayed on and given how heavily the burden weighed on Ashraful, perhaps he had a point.

History will look fondly on Habibul Bashar. He'd go on to become a national selector and, for me, will always be the best number three batsman Bangladesh have ever had.

4. Mohammed Ashraful
Ashraful should have been the first great Bangladeshi cricketer. He made a century on test debut, aged just sixteen, and would go on to score some of the most notable match winning innings for Bangladesh - 100 against Australia in Cardiff and 87 against South Africa in the World Cup. He had flair, he was exciting and was the first Bangladeshi cricketer to become an international household name.

But between these innings were poor shows. A batsman who regularly got out to poor shots - the image of him routinely shaking his head as he walked back to the pavilion is ingrained in my mind. In 2007 he was made captain, but the burden weighed heavily on him until he was dropped two years later.

His career seemed to be on a comeback following an impressive 2013 - but in the same year Ashraful would confess to involvement in match fixing - an admission that would lead to him being banned by the BCB, effectively ending his international career.

5. Akram Khan
When future generations read about the history of Bangladesh cricket - the image of Akram Khan lifting the ICC Trophy in 1997 will be captioned a turning point. It was the match that would take Bangladesh to our first World Cup, which in turn would lead us to being granted test status.

A big burly character who oozed confidence and charisma - Khan was the sort of cricketer you looked up to. He made his debut in 1988 and for twelve years was an instrumental part of a side that built the foundation of what the Bangladesh team is today. He would retire in 2007 and go on to become a chief selector for the national side.

6. Aftab Ahmed
Aftab Ahmed was big hitter, the original finisher. The early model of what Mahmudullah would become for the team. Nearly 60% of his runs would come from boundaries - sadly this meant he'd often play a shot too many and fail to build on good starts. He could bowl too and has a five wicket haul to his name.

His exodus to a rebel league meant a two-year gap in his international career. His comeback in 2010 yielded one day scores of 10, 18, 2 and 4. A 46 in his final one-day match kept him in the squad for the first test against England that year, but scores of 1 and 26, with no wickets spelt the end for Aftab Ahmed.

7. Khaled Mashud (wicket)
I once read an article that suggested Mashud was only ever made Bangladesh captain because, as wicket keeper, he was the least likely to be dropped. A harsh and unfair review for a man who I remember spent a large amount of his career coming in at No7 and delaying inevitable batting collapses.

Dav Whatmore once described him as the best wicketkeeper in Asia - he certainly was the best keeper we had in the 2000s - but he would eventually lose his place in the team to a younger, louder and energetic Mushfiqur Rahim.

8. Mohammed Rafique
Pundits would often describe Bangladesh's bowling attack as trial by spin. Rafique was the original slow left arm bowler and his stats speak for themselves; 1000 runs and take 100 wickets in both one day and tests. Another one of the pre-test status survivors, he was hard working and had an economical style and would often choke the opposition during chases.

He could bat too - I remember watching in amusement as he would occasionally get sent up the order to pinch hit - he once top scored with 72, opening the batting in a one-day match against Zimbabwe and scored a test century batting at number 9 against West Indies. He played international cricket into his late 30's. I once read an article about how he built a tin shed at the back of his house to remind him of where he'd come from. That for me summarised what Mohammed Rafique was like. Hard working, world class and yet somehow still down to earth.

9. Enamul Haque Jnr
I'm not really sure what happened to Enamul Haque Jnr. Everything seemed to align for him. A five wicket haul in Bangladesh's first test win - a ten wicket haul in the match after. He could take wickets - he is still Bangladesh's fifth highest test wicket taker despite only playing in fifteen matches.

But he was leaky, often giving away twice as many runs as his peers. I sometimes wondered if selectors were worried in letting him play abroad where less spin friendly pitches would have exposed him. And with other spinners; Shakib Al Hassan and Sohag Gazi, developing nicely I guess Haque Jnr must have started to look like an expensive and disposable bowling option.

10. Abdur Razzaq
On occasion Abdur Razzak would open the bowling for Bangladesh. A move that would excite me so much as you saw opposition batsman look puzzled as they prepared for trial by spin. The left arm spinner has his nose in front as Bangladesh's highest one-day wicket taker (at the time of writing Shakib Al Hassan is one wicket behind, but still in the current squad).

Razzak took three wickets in his debut match and once took a five wicket haul against Zimbabwe. But he had problems with his action and was reported twice. He struggled with form in 2014 and after a miserable performance against Afghanistan the press turned on Razzak, effectively calling time on his international career.

11. Khaled Mahmud
My dad once asked if Khaled Mahmud became captain because he was Khaled Mashud's brother. He wasn't, but the sentiment amused me. In reality Mahmud had done enough in his career to justify his captaincy and place in this eleven.

Mahmud's 31-3 earned him Man of the Match in the 1999 World Cup win against Pakistan that would spur on Bangladesh's test status. He would also captain Bangladesh to some of our early near misses - notably the test against Pakistan that we should have won, had it not been for an unbeaten Inzamam-ul-Haq century. He retired in 2006, aged 34 and would go on to coach with the national side.

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