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More than 36 hours have passed since the end of the Lords Test. I spent this entire time blaming everyone for the heart-wrenching result. Finally, I have calmed down enough to logically think over the whole debacle.

The Lord?s of disaster

Published: 30th May, 2005

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More than thirty-six hours have passed since the end of the Lord?s Test. I spent this entire time blaming everyone for the heart-wrenching result. Finally, I have calmed down enough to logically think over the whole debacle.

To start with, the intention of this write up is not to blame anyone for the outcome but to identify the main reasons for our defeat. Keep in mind that it is much easier to think that there is something wrong with our team and management or that the defeat was an isolated event and everything will be just fine in the next game.

Unfortunately, this is not the case. The sooner we realize this, the better it is for us since the first step towards solving a problem is in admitting that there is a problem. We all love our team and we will be with them forever, but we also need to be critical when something is not going right. So, let us figure out the main causes of this disaster.

The English condition played a huge part for the outcome. No one desires to play England on their home grounds during the early summer. As Habibul Bashar stated in one of his press conferences, our players had never seen balls moving so much. The three practice matches were insufficient to adapt to the conditions since Bangladesh never played tests in English conditions before. Moreover, the quality of the bowlers they faced during the practice games was not of the same caliber that they eventually ended up facing at the Lord?s. Inability to adapt to this new situation was probably the main reason for the quick downfall. The only solution to this problem is to have more exposure. It would be wonderful if some of our players manage to land contracts with the county teams.

Team Experience also played a big role in the defeat. The overall experience of the team is very important when it comes to roaming around in unknown enemy territory. The main point is not, however, the age, but the number of games they have played.

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Let us look at the team from this point of view: Nafis Iqbal, Aftab Ahmed, Mushfiqur Rahim, Shahadat Hossain and Anwar Hossain are all inexperienced. They may be talented but they are inexperienced. They made up almost half of the team! Inexperienced players are easily overcome when challenged by unexpected situations, more so by a strong opponent.

After getting hammered by the batsmen, the inexprienced Shahadat might look for divine interventions, while Tapash would think, ?What did I do the last time this happened?? The outcome of this match could have been better had we have more experienced players like Tapash or Rajin in the middle.

What is the solution? No, I am not thinking of bringing back players like Akram or Bulbul. However, the selectors do need to stop injecting new players into the team for each tour. One sparkling session in the domestic league or a couple of stunning performances in practice matches should not be the basis of giving someone a Test cap. Selectors should not let anyone play at this level until the player has shown consistent performances over a period of time.

The Lack of footwork among our batsmen was one aspect of our game that surprised international viewers and commentators. If we analyze this carefully, we will see that most of our players got out because they did not move their feet properly. It is extremely important to go behind the ball in a swinging condition, but our players were not very interested in doing this except for Khaled Mashud. Needless to mention, he was the only successful batsman in the squad.

The obvious question surfaces: Is it very hard to move your feet back and forth? The answer is ?no.? Our players could or did not do it because they are not used to doing it. In a non-swinging condition, this may not be the most important part of batting, but in a swinging condition it does become important. This is an area where improvement does not require a lot of effort but has tremendous advantages. Dav Whatmore should pay extra care to it in order to improve our players? footwork.

The Lord?s Factor came into this already dismal scenario to make things worse. Because of the historic aspect of this venue, the first match in it became more than just a game. It is not unlikely that some players thought more of personal achievements than team performances. The phrase ?first game at Lord?s? has been pronounced so many times by so many people that the players may have lost sense of what comes first, the game or the sense of occasion. That so many players mentioned of doing something special at Lord?s is enough proof of it. Well, this problem has already been solved because the first game is over. They paid heavily for the mistake and we can hope that they learned from it.

The Bashar Factor is the one that has been discussed most by the forum members. Even though so many things can be said about the pros and cons of this topic, there is no way to deny that Bashar played a leading role in this disaster. Coming in at number three, the most important batting position, he showed an unforgivable lack of responsibility and judgment. The effect of his dismissal is much deeper than just being the start of a batting collapse. All the young players in the team look up to him not only as a captain but also as the leading run scorer.

This explains the general tendency among our batsman to hook or pull every chance they get. Bashar boldly stated that, that was how he always has been playing and that was how he scored most of his runs. What he failed to realize is that this, too, is how he gets out most of the time. Another important thing is that all teams do their homeworks. At the beginning, when the styles and tendencies of our players were unknown to the world, Bashar?s hooking and pulling worked to some extent. Now everyone knows that if you give a short ball to Bashar he will get out trying to pull it. Bashar really needs to change this attitude and stop playing hooks and pulls until he is really settled. Another thing that can be done is to send Bashar later in the batting order. This way he will face fewer moving balls and will not set an example of getting out irresponsibly.

Judging the relative importance of pacers or spinners is a very common dillemma among us fans. As it seems right now, our pacers are not very effective even in a pacer- friendly environment. We need to keep in mind that the opposition is the second ranked team of the world and are very good at facing quality pacers. Unfortunately for us, our pacers are just not good enough. While one match cannot be considered to draw any conclusion, we still may come up with a different strategy. Another spinner may replace a pacer. It might not work as expected, but I do not think it will get any worse either.

The second match is imminent. What can we expect from that match? If we keep in mind that Lord?s is much more batting friendly than Riverside, it is not unlikely that we may end up with an even worse performance. We cannot allow that to happen. We have to come up with an improved performance. We must.

 

About the author(s): Rubu Islam, a BanglaCricket staff, goes by the nick "Rubu" in BanglaCricket forums.

 

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