Allan Donald is ending his time as Bangladesh's fast-bowling coach after their World Cup campaign. He informed ESPNcricinfo that he had initially agreed to a one-year extension to his contract, but has since realised that he wants to give more time to his family back home. The latest update comes just a day after the BCB pulled Donald up - and asked him for an explanation - for his comments criticising Shakib Al Hasan and the Bangladesh team for the Angelo Mathews timed-out dismissal.
"During the World Cup, I was the first one to accept a contract verbally. I didn't sign a contract but I was ready to go back to Dhaka to sign the contract for a year's extension," Donald told ESPNcricinfo in an interview on Friday. "I was excited to crack on and see how we can expand this fast-bowling group even further.
"I have had time in the World Cup to reflect on that. My immediate thought was that 12 months looks like a long time. The schedule looks very hectic. I'd better start thinking about my family. I got a two-year-old grandson who I miss dearly. I have been away for 82 days on the bounce. I think it got to me a little bit."
Donald, 57, was appointed to the position in February 2022 and has overseen an upswing in the quality of fast bowling in Bangladesh in his time in charge; Bangladesh now regularly play at least three fast bowlers in all formats. Taskin Ahmed, Shoriful Islam and Hasan Mahmud have become the frontmen of the attack, while Ebadot Hossain, who missed the World Cup because of an injury, has come up in leaps and bounds in both red- and white-ball cricket. Not to forget Mustafizur Rahman, and the up-and-coming Tanzim Hasan. The group, however, has struggled at the World Cup.
"I am overwhelmed by how popular this fast-bowling group has become. The support for me was touching," Donald said. "I wish Bangladesh all the best. I will follow their progress in the coming months and years, see how they go. I have become good friends with this fast-bowling group, and not just the young quicks, who were plucked off the shelves. We just don't go and do the business. I am really in awe of how they have progressed and accepted a mindset in all formats that has given them something to shout about, for other teams to take note of what they have achieved, how they conduct themselves on the field.
"I kept it really basic and simple. I think our weekly catch-ups as a group - once for a coffee, sometimes over lunch, just to see how the guys are traveling mentally - was significant. All those meetings had small little margins, goals and learnings that we take forward"
"I am really proud of them. Whoever takes care of them from now, all I know is that I have left them in a good space with a good platform to work from. It is basically time for me to get home and be a dad, husband and grandfather."
Donald: 'I will keep the WhatsApp group running
Donald counted the quick bowlers' awareness about fitness, especially when it comes to Test cricket, as the biggest positive. "I quickly realised that it is a highly-skilled group from the first meeting in Pretoria [in 2022]. They just needed nurturing, guidance, patience and understanding," he said. "The understanding of our game management, especially in the Test-match arena, is our biggest progress.
"I think the processes that I brought into place in the Test matches - mindset, strategy, tactics, awareness, creativity - I think it was the single-biggest improvement in the Test-match arena, our willingness to be the fittest bowling attack.
"For me, it was eat, sleep, repeat. I didn't bring anything that the game hasn't coughed up. I kept it really basic and simple. I think our weekly catch-ups as a group - once for a coffee, sometimes over lunch, just to see how the guys are traveling mentally - was significant. All those meetings had small little margins, goals and learnings that we take forward.
"I told them yesterday that, you know, I have been on so many WhatsApp groups. The moment you leave an organisation or a team, you detach yourself from that group. I told them that I will keep that group running. Whenever the players feel like they want to chat, they can WhatsApp me. We can do a group chat. That's why I said I wanted to keep in touch with them. Whether it is just a light-hearted discussion or a chat about cricket."
'Bowling on proper wickets key for development of young guys'
Donald said that it did take a little time to make people in Bangladesh understand the importance of having a strong fast-bowling attack, but the encouragement from the higher-ups in Bangladesh cricket should keep the good work going.
"I think that it took some time to encourage people high above to keep playing seamers, keep playing on very good wickets, to encourage fast bowlers to come through in a spin-heavy environment in Bangladesh," Donald said. "The way that these guys have come through and made themselves known on flat pitches, just showed how much they have learned. How much courage they plucked up to punch holes in batting line-ups, especially in Bangladesh's backyard."
Coming to the World Cup, which has been played in different kinds of conditions in India, Donald said that it should be a lesson for Bangladesh and other teams to keep preparing good pitches and not just pitches where the team knows it can win.
"It makes me even more proud to just show that later on we were backing three seamers to bowl people out in our backyard - it was really cool," he said. "I know you always play at home and Dhaka is where it spins a lot, but in order for fast bowlers to be really in the picture, I think playing on really good Test pitches will help them grow much quicker. They will expand a lot faster. The development of young fast bowlers will get better and better. It would be great for their confidence.
"Sylhet is a fantastic venue. We know how to bowl in Chittagong. We know what's happening in Dhaka - it is going to spin. We have seen in this World Cup, how tough it is for everyone, not just Bangladesh. The bowlers have gone for 80s, 90s, 100s. It has just been brutal. That's why bowling on proper wickets is key for development for young guys."