As Ara Parseghian said, “A good coach will make his players see what they can be rather than what they are,” the story was no different for Bangladesh. From being minnows to win the Asia Cup and to nearly handed New Zealand a reality check in the ICC T20 World Cup earlier this year – they have come a long way under the guidance of Anju Jain and Devieka Palshikaar.

Since their joining as head coach and the assistant coach respectively, Bangladesh have tasted a fair share of success. They registered 3 consecutive wins in 2019 against The Netherlands, Thailand, and in the ICC Women’s T20 World Cup Qualifier. Although they lost the series against Pakistan, they registered convincingly in the South Asian Games and the T20 Quadrangular series in India before the 2020 T20 World Cup.

Bangladesh played 13 T20Is in 2019 and emerged victorious in 10. Even their T20 World Cup preparation started on a high note after beating Pakistan in the warm-up. In the first game, they did well against India too.

Now, why would any team suddenly want to change their coaching staff despite having the success?

Well, Bangladesh did that and that is probably the time where troubles started.

It was learnt that the coaching staff had a meeting with the BCB’s Chief Executive Officer, Nizamuddin Chowdhury before they left for India. They were told to have a meeting with other board officials about the World Cup performance but, unfortunately, that didn’t take place owing to the global pandemic COVID-19. While their contracts ended on March 31, they haven’t heard anything from them yet.

Amid this uncertainty, both Jain-Palshikaar duo joined Baroda Senior Women’s Team for the upcoming season as the head coach and the bowling coach respectively. While Jain will look after the batting and wicket-keeping, Palshikaar will be in charge of the bowling and fielding departments. However, the matter suddenly came in the limelight after their appointment at Baroda when in a report, BCB has claimed that they were not aware of that.

Bangladesh

Bangladesh after the Asia Cup win. Image: ACC

“I had a very long discussion with the CEO some days ago and he told he will take feedbacks from all the corners. Moreover, after clearing everything, we are getting to hear that we didn’t inform. The worst thing is there is nothing related to cricket because they know what kind of work we have done. We have given them the result in 2 years. We have never behaved in an unprofessional manner,” said Jain to Women’s CricInsight while shedding the light on the fact that they didn’t inform BCB.

On the other hand, Devieka Palshikaar said to Women’s CricInsight that the CEO was very supportive of them and had helped them in the past 2 years. “It’s been 2 years and we have met the CEO quite a few times and whatever we asked, those things had happened. He also praised our work and did whatever was possible for him. Even the President also appreciated what we both have done in these two years,” she added.

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While they had to bear the consequences for taking some tough calls for the team’s betterment, the report also claimed that the team management didn’t give the chance to Jannatul Ferdous Sumona despite having performed well with bat and ball in World Cup Qualifier. Notably, she was not a part of the World Cup Qualifier squad in both 2018 and 2020 ICC T20 World Cup.

“We got to work with her for a very short period. She played a few games against South Africa but failed to perform later and after that, she was never included in the camp. We don’t know the exact reason. She messaged me and wanted to join the practice session since she was in Australia. I told her to contact the BCB and if they allow I have no problem. However, there were no talks regarding her playing in the World Cup,” Jain clarified Sumona’s claim that the team management didn’t pay attention to her desire to play in the ICC T20 World Cup 2020.

However, for Baroda, it was a long wait to get the Jain-Palshikaar duo. While for Jain, they waited for nearly 5 years, they were on the verge of getting Devieka Palshikaar 2 years back.

Anju Jain

Anju Jain with the Vidarbha Senior Women’s team. Image: Anju Jain/Facebook

“I was supposed to join Baroda 3 years back but it didn’t work out at the end moment and I joined Vidarbha. Even Devieka was about to join but Bangladesh confirmed and she also had to refuse the offer. This time we were approached after the ICC World Cup and they wanted to make it happen,” Anju Jain revealed.

It’s not new for them to coach a domestic side as both Jain and Palshikaar have coached Vidarbha and Goa respectively. But joining a domestic side with the preferred coaching staff is certainly new.

“Anju di has in mind that we should have our own team whom you can trust blindly. For Baroda, she spoke about me and Kavita (Pandya, trainer). If Anuja (Dalvi, physio) has been there with us still, I am sure Anju di would have asked for her as well because it is very important to have a trustworthy staff. She has that blind faith on me and I have that on her,” shared Devieka.

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Despite knowing each other for nearly two decades, coaching Bangladesh team was their first assignment together as coaches apart from doing some camps at the National Cricket Academy (NCA).

“For me, it’s a double benefit. The kind of knowledge I gain working with her or under her is huge and I enjoyed that in Bangladesh. After all, its coaching and I have no problem being the assistant of Anju di. But she didn’t like the fact and spoke to the association that I will be the bowling coach,” said the former leg-spinner of India while clarifying her role in the team.

Palshikaar felt their appointments could also change the perspective of coaching in India. “Please don’t see whether it’s male or female. If you have the talent you should get the job not because you are male or female. It should be on your credentials and not your gender.”

Devieka Palshikaar

Devieka Palshikaar with the Goa team. Image: Devieka Palshikaar/Facebook

Meanwhile, the Baroda team has recently faced some issues with their previous coach Atul Bedade and amid this situation, they need to work on the trust factor first. Both the coaches have started their homework already and they both think that the team has all the potential to emerge victorious in the domestic circuit.

“They had a pretty bad experience with the previous coaches. So we will try to gain the trust of the players. We want to give them confidence. I feel Baroda is one of the best teams,” expressed Palshikaar.

Even Jain also echoed the same, “The plan is to get their trust back on the coaching staff. Skillwise they are better than many other teams. There are Radha, Tarannum, Yastika and a few who have been doing well for the last few years. The first task will be to create an environment where the girls can play freely and enjoy the game.”

Despite having a few good players like Tarannum Pathan, Radha Yadav, Yastika Bhatia in the team, Baroda failed to do well. While in 2018-19, they failed to qualify because of the net run rate, they lost to Bengal in the Women’s Senior T20 Trophy in the last season. Even they couldn’t do well in the One Day Tournament also. However, the bowling coach is confident that their international experience will help them.

While talking about mental health and its importance in the game, the head coach Anju Jain said that the sports psychologists and sessions on this are very much needed nowadays. She also stressed that these things are important and should be looked into so that the players can handle themselves in a better way even in a high-pressure situation.

Since the lockdown due to the COVID-19 hasn’t been lifted yet in the country, there is no news when the training will start again. As the situation is slowly getting normal in some places, it can be hoped that India too will enjoy the cricketing action soon.

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