2020 was supposed to be the biggest challenge for Russell Domingo, who was appointed as head coach of the Bangladesh cricket team last year. The 45-year-old, who is currently back in South Africa, is however chalking out plans for the Tigers’ upcoming assignments once the coronavirus pandemic eases off. The Daily Star’s Mazhar Uddin spoke with the coach about various issues including his plans for the Tigers during an interview over phone. Following are the excerpts of the interview:
The Daily Star (TDS): There were quite a lot of fixtures this year for Bangladesh, especially in Test cricket including the home series against Australia. You must have had big plans for it?
Russell Domingo (RD): Very disappointed that we are not playing the big series against Australia. Big tour to the UK against Ireland would have been great too. Missing those two series is a big blow for us. The more Test cricket we play, the better it is for us. So of course I am very disappointed in missing out on those, particularly the series against Australia.
TDS: It is still uncertain whether international cricket will return anytime soon. What will be your plan when things get back to normal?
RD: Obviously not sure when international cricket is going to start again. But important is that before starting, we get some time to prepare both physically and technically before we rush into a series again.
TDS: What will be your biggest challenge when cricket returns?
RD: Biggest challenge when we start again, I suppose, will be getting players physically fit to start playing again. The players have been given individual training programmes and schedules. But being in lockdown does limit your physical preparation considerably, so getting guys fit before we play again is of paramount importance.
TDS: Are you willing to give more emphasis on domestic cricket during this period?
RD: Regarding domestic cricket, I am not sure when that’s going to start again, but obviously I keep a keen eye on who is doing well in domestic circuit. Dhaka Premier League is not taking place anymore but the Bangladesh Premier League and four-day cricket is also important and when I can I follow those very closely.
TDS: Keeping the current situation in mind, Shakib Al Hasan is expected to be available by the time things get back to normal. Your take on that?
RD: I suppose by the time we start playing, Shakib will be nearly available again. I think he is banned till the end of October. The plus side is that he is not missing too many games [for Bangladesh]. He is a great player and the best all-rounder in the world. To have him back in our group will be fantastic for the team. The players will enjoy playing with him, they look up to him. He is a great player to be around the younger players.
TDS: What’s your take on appointing Tamim Iqbal as the new ODI captain?
RD: I am looking forward to working with the new ODI captain Tamim. I have enjoyed my time with him since he has been back to the squad after his break. I am really pleased that he has been appointed. We looked at one or two other options available for the new captain. But the board decided to go with Tamim and I think it is a very good decision. I am certainly looking forward to working with him. I have enjoyed the way he has gone about his business and prepare them to make Bangladesh a force in world cricket.
TDS: Do you think there will an added pressure on Tamim as the successor of Mashrafe Bin Mortaza, who is the most successful ODI captain for Bangladesh?
RD: Hard for me to talk too much about Mashrafe. I don’t know him that well. I have been involved in a few games with him. Three games against Zimbabwe, so I don’t know how he goes about his business. But look Tamim is one of the Bangladeshi legends. He has performed unbelievably well. He is the leading run-scorer in all formats for Bangladesh. He has got the pedigree and the knowledge in the game to lead the team well. So, I don’t think he will be under any more pressure than any international captain around the world. I am expecting great things from him going forward.
TDS: Do you think the cricket world will remain the same once this pandemic ends?
RD: I don’t think cricket or the world is going to be the same after this virus, well not until the vaccine gets found for it. I think everybody is going to be very aware of social distancing. Not getting close to one another, I suppose; making sure our hygiene is where it needs to be. I don’t quite think it is going to be the same for a while.