Cricket news - Missing: Bangladesh's left-arm spinners

There are no contenders in Bangladesh to replace Shakib, who is serving a one-year ban.

There are no contenders in Bangladesh to replace Shakib, who is serving a one-year ban.

It was not long ago that Bangladesh's bowling attack was dominated by left-arm spinners, but in the present scenario that seems to be in a distant past.

Spinners are known to get into their groove with time and experience, but with the inclusion of the uncapped Nasum Ahmed in the T20Is against Zimbabwe, the absence of seasoned ones was clearly evident. In a country that has produced the likes of Mohammad Rafique, Abdur Razzak and Shakib al Hasan, it is really hard to name anybody today.

The inclusion of Taijul Islam, known to be a Test specialist, in the all-format national contract category has once again shown that the selectors are finding it really hard to find someone in the left-arm spin department.

"I think Saqlain Sajib was unfortunate as he was born in the wrong era. At one point Shakib and Razzak used to lead the bowling attack and that prevented him from getting his due [in the shorter version]," Bangladesh selector Habibul Bashar said.

If Saqlain is well past his prime, what has happened to the ones who still have got age on their side, like Nazmul Hassan Apu, Arafat Sunny or Sanjamul Islam? They haven't been considered regulars even in the just concluded first-class competition, and it looks all but certain that they aren't on the national selectors' radar in white-ball cricket.

Sanjamul never seemed to belong to the big stage, while Nazmul did not get back his old magic after trying to remodel his bowling action as he had a problem with his landing. On the other hand, after a personal trauma that had derailed the career of Arafat - when he had to go to prison - he never got back his old rhythm. And although he was picked for the T20I series against India, he did not get a game. However, these three spinners should have been prime contenders to take over the spot that was vacated by Shakib due to his one-year ban.

Mohammad Salahuddin, the country's leading coach and mentor of Shakib and Razzak among others, reckoned that the current crop of spinners lack skill. "I won't say there are no left-arm spinners left. Certainly there are quite a few of them, but that quality is not there," he said.

"Probably the spinners from the older generation don't have anything new at their disposal, or let's say there is no extra edge in their deliveries. That is why we are going after a new guy [Nasum Ahmed] instead of banking on experience."

Salahuddin further added that earlier left-arm spinners were accurate but as the surfaces are getting better and better, it is becoming harder for them to survive on just accuracy.

"To be honest, our spinners were very accurate and that was their strength more than spinning the ball, and it turned out to be effective on low and slow wickets that were produced earlier. They used to bowl stump to stump with the new ball, getting it to drift at times. But now as the wickets are better than before, you cannot survive on just accuracy because in the ODIs there is always a gap through mid-wicket or extra cover and they get punished if they bowl badly even slightly on good surfaces," he said, adding that spinners now need to be more focused on flight and their variations.

"I think they should now learn how to bring variations in their flight, because they normally spin the ball less and that is the reason they are not surviving.

"I think what is more important that turn is how many revolutions the ball is getting in the air. That is an area where our left-arm spinners are lacking heavily. Because turn depends a lot on the surface. But to create an impact in the minds of the batsmen, you need to deceive him through the air and most of our left-arm spinners are unable to do that at will."

Veteran left-arm spinner Abdur Razzak echoed similar sentiments as that of his mentor. "Definitely there are some shortcomings in skill. In fact, they have many areas to work on and they should work on it if they want to play international cricket," he said.

The selector, Habibul, however said that he was yet to find a definitive answer as to why Bangladesh are finding it difficult to get quality left-arm spinners any more. "There was a time when we were desperate for an off-spinner or a leg-spinner as there were plenty of left-arm spinners. But I just can't make out why the flow of good left-arm spinners has stopped so drastically."