BCB beep-ing to the right beat
The recent fuss in the country's cricket fraternity seems to be over the Bangladesh Cricket Board's newly-set requirements for the beep test that must be met in order to play in the National Cricket League (NCL), scheduled to begin next month.
The BCB announced that the players would need to score at least 11 points in the beep test in order to be allowed to play in the NCL this year, although the BCB had allowed players with scores as low as 9 to participate in the domestic circuit last year.
This leap in the required level of fitness was done after head coach Russell Domingo was left shocked by the fitness of Bangladesh players earlier this week.
"'What sort of fitness is this?'" Domingo, who himself said that he had not seen such poor fitness from players at the international level, was quoted as saying by BCB president Nazmul Hassan.
Although the decision from the BCB seems to be right on cue given the urge to increase the standard of cricket in the domestic circuit, the sudden bump in fitness requirement was labelled unfair by a few players who have been out of the national side for a while.
"If a player scores 14 in the beep test but has no ability to perform in a game, then what is the use of such a score?" said 33-year old pacer Mohammad Sharif, who thought fitness should not be an issue if a player performs well despite lacking that department.
One may argue that the level of competence required in the domestic circuit cannot be compared to that needed in international matches. But is it not necessary to implement required standards at the lower levels so players from the pipeline who get into the national squad are not suddenly asked to meet a new standard?
When writing about the fitness levels required in Bangladesh, the scenario worldwide should also come to the fore.
India only allows a player to stay in the national team if he has a minimum score of 16.1 in yo-yo test, a test inspired by the beep test but slightly different.
In both the tests, athletes run to exhaustion while completing a multi-stage 20m shuttle run test. However, yo-yo tests have a rest period after every 40 metres (2x20m) covered compared to the beep test, which is continuous.
The world's top-ranked Test side, India, are even considering increasing the minimum qualification mark from 16.1 to 17 before their tour of South Africa next month.
And such a move would be no surprise for a team led by Virat Kohli, who aced their recent yo-yo test with a score of 19.
Pakistan and Sri Lanka's minimum level for the yo-yo test is now 17.4. West Indies set the mark at 19 while England and New Zealand have a bare minimum of 19 as the required level to be considered for the international side.
A score of 11.6 in the beep test is equivalent to an 18.3 in the yo-yo test. Considering the current scenario and fitness levels required by other top international cricket teams, it is evident that BCB are on the right track.
In September 2016, Bangladesh players were reported to have an average of 11 -- their all-time high fitness levels -- in the beep test. And maybe it is time for players to realise that if they are to compete at the highest level, it is time to convert their peak scores into regular ones.