Nawaz returns as Bangladesh U-19 coach, sets eyes on 2026 World Cup

Bangladesh

In 2020, Naveed Nawaz led a campaign that won Bangladesh the Under-19 World Cup. Now upon his return as coach of the Youth team, he hopes to use the same methods to secure the same piece of silverware which will be up for grabs again in 2026.

The Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) appointed Nawaz last month after Stuart Law’s contract was not renewed. Law was Bangladesh’s head coach in the 2024 Under-19 World Cup, but has since joined the USA men’s national team that reached the Super Eight stage at the T20 World Cup 2024.

Nawaz, who returns after spending two years as Sri Lanka men’s assistant coach, said that Bangladesh’s new batch of Under-19 players will face increased expectations – just like he will – having already been champions.

“This expectation is on the players as well in a country like Bangladesh, where people are almost crazy about cricket,” Nawaz said. “They love the game so much. Players will carry the burden of expectations. Coming back to Bangladesh after winning the [Under-19] World Cup in 2020, obviously there will be expectations [on me], but I think I have to focus on other things. It has been four years since winning the World Cup. There’s a lot of work to be done.

“As always, BCB has laid down a brilliant programme like in the past. We will put our shared experience, we will cover every base that this group of boys will face in the next two years. We want to give them as much experience as possible. Give them the confidence, help them grow. Players are the main carriers of this game. We must create a happy environment for the players. They have to make decisions independently. Coaches will help them make better decisions in the future. That’s what we did four years ago. It produced results for us. The basics haven’t changed yet.”

Nawaz said that he will go around the country to find talented cricketers, and then discuss with the age-group selectors the profile of players the team will need for the 2026 Under-19 World Cup in Zimbabwe and Namibia.

“The plan is very simple for the next two years,” he said. “We know what type of cricket the U-19 boys play all over the world. There’s been a lot of visibility. My first job would be to sit with the selectors, to see what are the [pieces of the] puzzles that match. What type of talent do we have to make a great team, that can win.

“We want to understand the talent from worldwide and try to put in all the benchmarks in our players and try to reach it in two years. That’s what we did before. We want to build a team in two years that can compare with any other country without any fear.”

Nawaz, however, highlighted that it takes a lot of time and effort to become a successful player at the senior level. Teenagers cannot always become superstars overnight. “We unearth a lot of talent in age-group cricket in countries like Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. International cricket is so challenging that even if you are very talented at the ages of 18, 19 or 20, it doesn’t tell the story that you are going to be a superstar by the age of 25 or 30.

“Cricket is a lot more analytical than before; oppositions find you out very quickly. It is about the players being able to work their way out, to understand and rectify their game. You can’t be holding a technical or mental issue for too long. You have to get over it. BCB will look into it in the High Performance or higher age-group programmes where you give the players confidence to perform at higher stages.”

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