I wanted to open a thread about our test cricket, but this thread seems perfect.
I feel I deserve more.
Watching last Ashes, and watching this India England Series, I sighed in sorrow. When can our players be this relentless? When can our players turn around at the sight of adversity in cricket's purest form? For years i have stuck with the team that is picked and for years I have cheered them on. I might not be the most active of fans, and I do not have time to watch every ball bowled. In fact, I do not always watch Bangladesh play. But I keep track of the scores, and watch games. I will not watch inconsequential games like Holland playing Bangladesh, or Pakistan playing West Indies for that matter. To me, I will keep track of every international game played, and I will follow every Bangladesh game like a zealot. I will watch matches of Bangladesh if I have the time and scope. (Used to be an engineering student, now an employed engineer, so I do not always have the scope). There are thousands of fans like me, who will support the team no matter what, and who will not jump up and down in Hujug. So I am not unique in any sense. Nor am I claiming to be. Also, I am no true expert of the game, like many here.
That’s about me. Wanted to show you where I am coming from.
This team (after the ICL exodus to now on wards) has been our best team of all time. It lacks certain skill aspects, our bowling is not our strongest in history maybe, but we still have one world class bowler, couple world class batsmen. In ODIs, we can beat any team in the world in our day, and that doesn’t always require the other team to falter. In ODIs, we are a respected outfit, and expectations from our team have risen even at internationally. And we do our bit.
But to me, Test cricket is the purest form of the game. It tests the mental toughness. I could never watch test cricket without substance before. Maybe the exciting parts. One of the earlier days I started loving test cricket was a specific match I can remember. or the final two sessions. I remember Pakistan England Test Series in 2001. It was this match in particular.
Pakistan was 1-0 down going into the final match of the series, and it came down to the final two sessions. Wasim and Waqar, along with Saqlain dismantled the English batting line up in the final hours, fighting against time to draw level in the series. As I watched that as a teenager, I wondered, when will our team perform like that?
I did not have to wait long. In came Multan. I was supposed to be in school that final day. for those of you don't remember,
I bunked school, which was a serious thing for my upbringing with strict parents. but that didn't matter! Our team was at last so close to the Promised Land! When the 8th fell for 207 or so, I was overjoyed! When the 9th fell at 257, I was screaming crazily! Could not believe it! Just could not! When Inzamam stole the game, I was disheartened. but i was proud of our team.
I was even prouder when they pushed Australia to the brink. Shahadat was bouncing ponting again and again, and I was amazed at the heart of this guy! Now that was a fast bowler, not the weak kind we generally see in our team. No no. this guy was of different breed overall. For those of you needing a reminder, it was in Fatullah.
This was our finest hour. We pounded the world beaters for 3 days, and we pounded them even at adversity, to the near brink of defeat. But it was not to be! I loved when we beat Zimbabwe and grinded out almost a day and a half to win the test series, but that was a severely weakened Zimbabwe team, and that was not our finest hour.
The next entry in here, I gave up on Bangladesh at the near impossible target of 521. I gave up indeed, and I only watched the last day. To be honest, I was back in Bangladesh for 14 days after 1 and a half years, for my brother’s wedding, and I was very busy with the wedding duties. But I watched the final day as Bangladesh played better and better, and Mahela Jayawardene was growing more and more worried. A defeat to Bangladesh was ignominious, but a defeat to Bangladesh after setting a target of 521 runs, would be ignominy of historical proportions. We all know what happened. Shakib fell to a small mistake, missing his deserved maiden test century and we collapsed. At one point we were 400 odd for 6, and with Shakib and Mushfiq in wicket, we were 100 runs away from a ground shattering victory. But it wasn’t to be.
We were not ready probably.
I watched the team triumph against West Indies, whitewashing West Indies at only their second tour of the country, I knew that this will always be us playing against a 3rd string side. And this will not indicate anything. But we have achieved something in these many years. Yes we did. The absence of criticism from the former test players is the biggest achievement actually. But as a cricket fan, as I grew, I crave more these days. A century or a five wicket haul, or a decent performance does not quench my thirst for success from this team. And I no longer support any other team this passionately. Used to support Pakistan, long time back, but then came that tour in 2003, where I saw how the so called “Boro Bhai”s to us tried to show our team in bad light, criticizing and playing dirty, even cheating so that they could win. And I was disillusioned with the Pakistan team. Hated that team since. I admire some players, outside our team. Virendar Sehwag is one of the players. I still love his stroke play. But when he called our team ordinary, it hurt. And our team stung back, bundling the no. 1 batting line up for 243! It was Shahadat and Shakib. The two world class bowler we had. Don’t know whether Shahadat is still in world class shape anymore.
All this is just a summary of our history in test cricket. What I feel I write here. I feel I am tired of losing. I am tired of the immature showing from our team. 6 years ago in England, when we beat Australia in an ODI, everyone said, give this team 5 years, they will show you. Time has passed, and we are still the young team. We are at a crossroads. Not the road up, but the road down in my eyes. A proper step taken, would possibly take our team up, competing and beating (yes beating) the likes of Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and even the world beating England side. But if we make wholesale changes, we will go down from here. If we don’t make any changes, we will go down from here. Before I give my two penny worth, I want to say, I am tired of losing again. I am tired of our team taking us to the brink, and losing again. When will that day come when our team will win, and no one can say we won because the team was weak? And yes, I am only talking about the purest form of the game.
We have a world class player, a player if he played in any other team, by now, would have been pronounced as a potential great of our time. And be a contender for an all-time great position maybe within 7-10 years. But because he plays for Bangladesh, people outside this country doesn’t give him due credit. They will say, he is just decent. The fact that he has a 5 wicket haul against almost all the countries he has played against, (4 wickets against Sri Lanka, and Zimbabwe doesn’t count as he played only one test against them) the fact that he carries our attack for the last 3 years, like Hadlee did for New Zealand doesn’t count for much. What do we do with this guy? We as a country are pounding him, ultimately what will happen is, he will retire at an early age, and we will lose him. We will have non performing so called best talents ever in our team forever. But we will lose the mediocre (???!!!) consistent performers like Shakib.
Coming back to topic, I am tired of losing. I really am. I feel like pulling away from Bangladesh cricket, and don’t care. I have been sitting for that last couple of weeks after our test loss, and the only thing I can think off, how the heck? How the heck did we perform so immaturely against Zimbabwe? We need a very very guided planning staff from here on if we want to take the road up. If more of the same goes on, we will once again reset to become the 10th ranking team. We will win ODIs here and there, but we will never become contenders.
Some smart planning can take us up. I won’t insult the cricketing knowledge of the many here with trying to describe the actual details of the plan. They know it better. Many things are being said here, which is good planning.
But all I wanted to say, I am severely disappointed with this team now, and ODI series wins against Zimbabwe will no longer cut it for me. I want more. I feel I deserve more. As a fan, as a Bangladeshi cricket follower, as a Bangladeshi, I feel I deserve more from this team. And they have the capability, it isn’t that they do not. They very much have the capability to win test matches. But their lack of vision is preventing them. Team selection policies crippling us in 2-3 slots in our team. And the media is ever so active to kill the golden egg giving goose. What more is needed? Kicking out our captain, and making god’s gift from Utpal Shuvro the captain will complete the circle, and then we can lose our potential at becoming world beaters, and become world battered.
I feel I deserve more for my limited attention. I really believe I do.