Bangladesh Under-19 captain Akbar Ali's calm demeanour has already been well-documented, especially after his match-winning unbeaten 43-run knock against India in the ICC Under-19 World Cup final. The young man did not get carried away even after all the praise and celebration as the wicketkeeper-batsman kept his cool amid all the festivity upon their return yesterday while talking to the media at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium in Mirpur.
Akbar said that their success could be considered a stepping stone to greater achievements and will motivate many future cricketers but he once again reminded everyone that bigger challenges await them as "there is a huge gap between age-level cricket and international cricket, and international cricket is not that easy".
So, they may celebrate their success for two or three more days before getting back to the serious business of preparing themselves for the next level.
Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) president Nazmul Hassan announced that they have chalked out a two-year plan for these cricketers and they have decided to give each cricketer Tk 1 lakh per month for the next two years. When Akbar's attention was drawn to this announcement, he was very forthright.
"We would like to thank the board but we had no desire of anything like that; we are satisfied that we were successful in achieving our goal. Our first target was to play the final and honestly speaking, we didn't have that big a goal [of becoming champions]. But our team management made it clear to us that our professional careers have just started and we need to get ready for the next level. Our main target would be to prepare ourselves to reduce the gap between age-level cricket and international cricket," Akbar explained.
Hassan was excited with the success and termed it the biggest achievement in the country's sports history, but he also put emphasis on future planning so that these heroes can shine further in international cricket.
"It is the biggest achievement in our country's sports history because the World Cup is World Cup. They made us proud. It is easy to get success but tough to maintain it. We have to look forward after this brilliant success. We want them to concentrate only on their cricket. We will give them special training for the next two years to improve their skills. We will review their two-year contract after two years and it will be withdrawn if someone fails to uplift their performance. We want to see them cement their place in the national side after two years," said Hassan.
"The challenge is much bigger now. If youth can do it, why not the senior team? We [the board] may be lacking in some aspects but if we can go ahead with proper planning, it would also be possible for the senior team," he added.
One of the architects behind the success was former Sri Lanka cricketer Naveed Nawaz, who guided the team as head coach. The essence of Naveed's explanation behind the success was very simple -- good long-term planning that ensured the players' specific roles in the team, and he praised his 'captain cool' wholeheartedly.
Instead of handing the World Cup winning Bangladesh Under-19 players with a lump sum, the Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) decided to include the champion players in a two-year contract, during which period Akbar Ali and Co will be receiving a monthly remuneration of Taka 1 Lakh each.
The BCB president Nazmul Hassan mentioned that the batch of this promising players will be offered with 'specialized training' to help improve their skill during this time.
Nazmul also talked about forming an Under-21 squad -- a special unit aimed to groom the young Tigers. And after two years, board will be extending the contract of the ones who would show development and progress.