The equivalent of Russian roulette? Not long from now, the Bangladesh head coach's job might come to be deemed as such, or perhaps something even more perilous, delectably unenviable. Jamie Siddons was the last coach to complete a full-term with the team, and that was in 2011. So, before Russell Domingo assumes office as the seventh Bangladesh head coach in eight years, ESPNcricinfo offers him some pointers.
Some clarity, please
BCB president Nazmul Hassan called Steve Rhodes "a nice man who was relaxed about winning and losing". When they handed Rhodes the job a year ago, the board was pleased with his agreeable persona. Many of the officials were even of the opinion that he wasn't as rude as his predecessor, Chandika Hathurusingha, was.
The BCB's falling out with Hathurusingha, which many believe began during the 2016 World T20, was to a great extent down to his conduct in the dressing room and at the nets, as much as it was about his relationship with Hassan. Rhodes, meanwhile, in his first international coaching job, was seen as the polar opposite. But, as history lends testimony, not all can be well for long in the BCB's corridors of power. Within two months of his appointment, Rhodes had reportedly done enough to drive Hassan up the wall. A semblance of clarity, therefore, from the BCB about what exactly it expects of the head coach may ease the process for everyone.
No Mashrafe, no Tamim
As far the immediate present goes, Domingo is not likely to have the services of the full crop of experienced cricketers who have been at the forefront of making Bangladesh the competitive unit they have become over the past five years. Mashrafe Mortaza, whose retirement talks are on hold, doesn't get involved in the field until March next year, while Tamim Iqbal has opted for a short break.
Domingo may thus have to learn to rely on Shakib Al Hasan, Mushfiqur Rahim and Mahmudullah. More so, because the rest of the playing group hasn't attained the game awareness and experience as the three have.
Onus on the second rung
Domingo will have the challenge of shaking the likes of Liton Das, Soumya Sarkar, Sabbir Rahman and Mustafizur Rahman out of their comfort zone and making them as good as they can be. They have all hit a point in their careers where they run the risk of stagnating, or lapsing into mediocrity. The head coach will be constantly reminded of how talented these cricketers are, but he will realise that channeling them in the desired direction is a challenge in itself.
Among this younger crop, only Mehidy Hasan has shown a marked improvement in all aspects of his game, after having burst on to the scene with his 19-wicket haul against England three years ago. Mehidy's accuracy as a bowler in limited-overs cricket has gone up, not to mention his evolution into reliable fielder and lower-order batsman.
Hitting the right pitch
Domingo will have to figure out what kind of pitches he wants to play on at home. Since mid-2016, Bangladesh have been heavily reliant on slow, turning tracks at home, which aids their enviable spin-bowling contingent, but, at the same time, has become a nightmare for their batsmen and pace bowlers. In the 2018-19 home season, the pace bowlers took only three out of 77 wickets, at a strike rate of 208. The recent showing of the pacers in home conditions may have also gone a long way in Bangladesh opting against picking a frontline seamer in their last home Test.
When the same group played in New Zealand a couple of months later, they looked visibly inadequate not only in terms of adjusting to the conditions, but also stringing together long spells. The batsmen, too, have often complained of the slowness of the pitches, which, they say, have made scoring so hard that, as with the pace bowlers, they, too, now need more time adapt to relatively favourable conditions abroad.
Much of Bangladesh's position on the World Test Championship's points table might, therefore, depend on the pitches at home, and how they help (or not) the players prepare for overseas games.
The shambles on the domestic front
Domingo's interest in trying to integrate all levels of cricket in Bangladesh is laudable, but to what extent he is allowed to help pull that off remains a guess. The major part of the domestic structure is made up of limited-overs matches in the four-tiered Dhaka league structure, which itself is in a pitiable state. Allegations of biased and poor umpiring is so common that clubs have started to lose interest in investing money.
Then there is the first-class cricket, which isn't as competitive. Every season, the BCB promises to improve the pitches but the surfaces hardly ever assist fast bowling or unhindered strokeplay. Domingo may have to, therefore, rely majorly on the BPL to chart the growth of the promising domestic cricketers and see how they adapt to playing in front of large crowds and under various coaches and scenarios.
Who is the boss?
BCB chief Hassan has a major say in almost every decision, which Domingo is likely to have noticed already. The new coach gave his first interview on the job at Hassan's centre-of-town office, and will in due course notice the latter influence squad selection, too. Domingo shouldn't be surprised if the make up of the playing XI, on-field strategies, the future of players and remainder of the backroom staff and even the colours and designs of the jerseys are also decided by Hassan.
Besides, Domingo will have to get used to Hassan's propensity for publicly criticising and complimenting players - and quite regularly at that - given that it has been a pronounced - and controversial - feature of Hassan's tenure as the BCB boss.
The big prize
The BCB now expects their men's team to win consistently at home and with a touch more regularity abroad. But the strongest craving, among the fans, the media and the board alike, is for a major trophy. The T20 World Cup is just over 12 months away, but the format is not Bangladesh's strongest suit. They have to first go through a make-or-break first round, after which the competition only gets stiffer. Seeking trophies in all three formats is going to be hard anyway, and the World Test Championship will be ongoing while the team also works out a plan to renew its ODI approach. Domingo has his work cut out.