View Full Version : Minnows no longer- view from an English fan of Bangladesh

March 15, 2007, 03:04 PM
<table border="0" cellpadding="4" cellspacing="0" width="100%"><tbody><tr><td class="newsdetails" valign="top">Minnows no longer
Paul Mason

March 16: The Cricket World Cup has finally started. We've endured the "razzle-dazzle" of the opening ceremony and seen the back of endless speculation. The group matches have begun, and if the West Indies winning the opening game against much favoured Pakistan is anything to go by, we could be in for some surprises. Like the players, I've been in mental training -- getting ready for a month ahead with little sleep, and the likelihood of suffering outrageous fortunes. I expect extreme emotional torment as I swing regularly from elation to despair and back. And to top it off, I occupy the rare position of being an Englishman, living in New Zealand, who also finds himself backing Bangladesh in the cup. Now there's a prospect few others have to face.
My support for Bangladesh can be traced back to the 1980s when I was lucky enough to call Dhaka home. Looking back now I think fondly of a city of lakes, slow rickshaw rides, and a soft light at dusk unlike anywhere else.
My time in Dhaka left me with an enduring (and since unfulfilled) love for roadside puchka, and a group of friends who remain close despite the distance. And, born out of a sense of nostalgic duty and an instinctive need to back an underdog, it has also left me following the Tigers -- and what a ride that has been: World Cup 1999 -- against the odds the Tigers beat Pakistan by 62 runs. (Who could forget that sweet euphoria?)
I quickly email Zaf in New York to share in the glory -- he's throwing a party and every Bangladeshi he knows is invited. As he put it: "We're all brothers today." I find myself getting annoyed at the ill-judged gossip of match fixing that follows in the papers.
Even this moment can't compare to the ecstasy I feel watching Ashraful blast a run-a-ball century against the Australians in the Nat-West Series in Cardiff in 2005.
This was the match that Symonds tried to turn up to drunk; such was Australian arrogance prior to the fixture. The harder they come... Ashraful's post-match interview in halting English brings a lump to my throat.
From the sublime to the ridiculous: World Cup 2003, losses to everyone including Canada and Kenya. Some years are best forgotten.
So what can we expect to see this time round? Both Bashar and Whatmore feel that Bangladesh have a realistic chance of making the second round -- the super eight -- and I would tend to agree.
There is a certain amount of expectation going into this tournament -- the Tigers no longer deserve to be included under the moniker of "minnow," and I feel that this World Cup could well prove the point.
We see a young side (only four of the current squad have prior experience of this high-level tournament) who come into this competition un-encumbered by previous baggage.
(It was this sense of freedom that Michael Vaughan credited with a big part in England's regaining of the Ashes in 2005).
Perhaps most importantly, this current Tigers squad also has a belief that, on the day, they can beat anyone -- and they're right. The Whatmore revolution continues.
The omens are good: both the ICC Associates tri-series matches against Canada and Bermuda were won with relative ease. This was followed by wins against Scotland and New Zealand (a New Zealand side, I might point out, which had just come off a convincing 3-0 whitewash of Australia.) There was a palpable feeling of shock down under the day after that two-wicket win.
If the young Tigers play to their abilities, they are clearly capable of mixing it with the best. There are several players who, I feel, are key to the Tigers' chances: the skipper Bashar needs to bring his experience to the fore, and for his troops to play to their best he needs to marshal them well. If there was ever a time for him to add an ODI hundred to his figures, to go with his three test centuries, it is now.
It seems an age since Ashraful became the youngest player to score a test century, and though he might not have had a consistent run of good form of late, he still remains Bangladesh's most colourful batsman.
Conventional wisdom has it that this World Cup could well be bowler dominated -- with many pundits forecasting modest totals. If this is the case, Ashraful's explosive batting has the potential to take the game away from the opposition.
With four ODI centuries under his belt, including a recent 104 off 112 balls against Bermuda, the left-handed Nafees also has a big role to fulfil in the batting line up. A flying start is a key element in modern day limited-overs cricket, and Nafees's intuitive ability to play his shots suits that game plan.
Mashrafe's 4-44, and his quick-fire 30 off just 14 deliveries, played a large part in the win against New Zealand. Bangladesh needs their young paceman to maintain his current fitness, and stay clear of the physio, if they want to have the best chance of succeeding.
I'm hopeful. When the Tigers take the field against India tomorrow we might just see an upset.
So, win the toss Bashar, put them in on that moist, early-morning Caribbean pitch and hope that the ball does a bit. Then, after they've collapsed for less than two hundred, make hay in the sunshine.
And if you do, not only will there will be dancing in the streets of Dhaka but, on his island many miles away in New Zealand, an Englishman will also be raising his glass to the part of him that is forever Bangladesh, and wishing he had a plate of puchka.
Paul Mason is a freelance contributor to The Daily Star.

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March 15, 2007, 03:29 PM
haha i miss fuchka too.

great read.

March 15, 2007, 03:37 PM
Very nice write-up. Can it be put up in the front page? Very touching and encouraging writing.

March 15, 2007, 03:38 PM
Excellent read!! Paul you are nolonger an Englishman in my book. Salam!!

March 15, 2007, 03:46 PM
I miss all those things too.. specially Fuchka near Shishoo Park??

March 15, 2007, 04:20 PM
I loved the article. Fantastic read. Very touchy. This is the kind of image of Bangladesh that needs to be put out to the world. I would request this to be put on the front page of Banglacricket for the entire World Cup. :flag: :flag: I love foreigners like him and IanW here.

March 15, 2007, 04:32 PM
A great Englishman

March 15, 2007, 04:37 PM
The link does not work and I don't see the report on dailystar's sports section !

March 15, 2007, 05:05 PM

Try this link. The article is here. It is in the point counterpoint section of DS.

March 15, 2007, 05:06 PM

Try this link. The article is here. It is in the point counterpoint section of DS.

March 15, 2007, 09:14 PM
Great read. I want ot welcome paul to this forum.

Zaheed Mahmood
March 15, 2007, 10:16 PM
Never seen any foreigner speaking so high in encouraging and lauding BD's performance in cricket, it is so touchy, I simply got overwhelmed with emotions!! The thought that there is one Paul for us there always whenever BD is up against any other cricket team would always fill me with hope and elation (I know Andrew Miller is also another man who supports and encourages BD in all sorts and spares no chance to praise them with all his heart whenever there is any win or improvement!)

March 16, 2007, 05:11 AM
Great article...
good find...

To Paul, if you reading this... you are no longer a Englishman/Kiwi to us..
we are more than happy to include you as our 150million+1...
we certainly can accomodate one more in our already crowded country....

March 16, 2007, 05:26 AM
A superbly readable and emotional account, which touches the heart of every Bangladeshi. It just shows that race and creed don't define belongingness, I think it's, phuchka :)

March 16, 2007, 07:51 AM
full of bangladeshi emotions....