A is for Al-Hassan, Shakib. Yeah, so it is contrived but who can deny the first spot to Shakib. And what a year it has been for him. In Tests he has amassed 500 runs and 30 wickets along with 5 dates with the Pfeiffer. Young at only 22, he has warmed the hearts of the fans with calm and assured batting; unlike the occasional dazzle followed by long stretches of mediocrity or disappointment that many of his team mates display.
B is for a bad beginning. Â After the many successes in 2007, the New Year did not augur well. They were skittled out for only 137 in their first innings of their first Test against New Zealand at Dunedin. They went on to lose the Test by 9 wickets in three days. Things then went from bad to worse with an innings defeat drubbing in the second and final Test.
C is for chases. Allâ€™s well that ends well? Bangladesh made a run for the record books as they chased a mammoth 521 in the 4th innings against Sri Lanka. For a while, as Ashraful, Shakib and Mushfique held sway, Sri Lanka were made to sweat and millions of Bangladesh cricket fans actually dared to dream for a while. In the end Bangladesh fell short by 107 runs but their fans were not unhappy and had much to look forward to in the New Year.
D is for Dhaka warriors. The rag-tag band of retirees and rebels were not expected to do much â€“ but ended up giving the leaders a run for their money (pun intended) and almost made it to semi-finals. They started poorly in their first game but came back strongly against champions Hyderabad Heroes where Alok Kapali made the tournamentâ€™s first 100. While they lost the game, they won four of their next five games and the hearts of millions world-wide.
E is for Eid. Ashraful ended an abysmal year with an Eid of an innings, scoring his 5th Test century as Bangladesh led a valiant fight to overhaul a Sri Lankan lead of 521 runs.Â After lofting a Vaas delivery over mid-off for 4 to achieve his century, he punched the air twice and let go a roar that could be heard around the stadium. It was as much a roar of joy as of relief â€“ for such was his poor form this year that his average coming into this game was barely into double figures (10.6). Â
F isfor Fans. This has been a particularly hard year for the fans. Through the ups and downs, and the downs were particularly steep, we have continued to love our team and follow it, like true fanatics.
G is for the Grand old man of Bangladesh cricket â€“ Mohammad Rafique. Long serving and beloved of most, he grudgingly announced his retirement after being dropped from the ODI team. In his final match for his nation, he became the first Bangladesh player to have achieved the double of 1000 runs and 100 wickets in Tests. Rafique already had the ODI double under his belt in 2007.
H is for Habibul Bashar. 2008 marked the bitter sweet end of a long and illustrious career for Bangladesh cricket. Having lost his captaincy last year and his form this year, he was dropped from the team and struck out for the ICL.
Speaking of which:
I is for the ICL exodus. The ICL cast their bait at Bangladesh and 6 national players took up them on their offer. Habibul Bashar, Shahriar Nafees, Aftab Ahmed, Reza, Dhiman Ghosh and Mosharaf Hossain were the contracted BCB players who sent in their resignations. They were joined by the likes of Alok Kapali, Manjural Islam, Mohammad Sharif, Tapash Baisya, Mabud Chowdhury, Mahbubul Karim and Mohammad Rafique to form the Dhaka Warriors. All BCB could do was a show cause notice via SMS and impose an unusually harsh 10 year ban on the rebels.
J is for Jamie Siddons. Â The first full year for Bangladesh under Jamieâ€™s helm. Perhaps the team rule philosophy is working and the impetuous batsmen are learning to put a price on their wicket.
K is for Kapali. Oft admired and oft admonished, Alok Kapali made the headlines in 2008. Called back to the national team after 2 years in the wilderness, he pleased his long-suffering fans with the fastest ODI century by a Bangladeshi (86 deliveries) in a match against India during the 2008 Asia cup. Soon after the forgettable Australia tour, he is lured by the ICL where he becomes a batting sensation in the ICL2020 â€“ scoring 324 runs in just 8 games as well as the first ton in ICL history.
L is for Lost Opportunities. Yes, we grieve once again for many lost opportunities.
M is for Mushfiqur Rahim â€“ He has come in for some criticism after walking into the shoes of Khaled Mashud. His keeping has improved and his batting promise has started exhibit itself during the second half of the year. Averaging just around 6 in Tests after the South African tour, his average is now a more respectable at 22 after just 5 Tests.
N is for â€œno, not againâ€. We had thought the era of one innings defeat after another was a thing of the past. 2008 set us straight. Of the 9 Tests we played this were, 4 were by an innings.
O is for openers. Same old story. We cannot yet seem to find the perfect duo to lay the platform for a good innings.
P is for Pilot â€“ yet another veteran bids adieu. Former Bangladesh captain and the countryâ€™s most successful wicketkeeper, Khaled Mashud Pilot hangs up his cricket cleats. Who can forget his unbeaten century that helped Bangladesh secure a draw against the West Indies in the first Test in the Caribbean in 2004. Unlike the other veteran retirees, Pilot did not find himself picking up his gloves for the ICL and was given a farewell by the BCB during the lunch break of the first ODI between Bangladesh and New Zealand.
Q is for â€œquo vadisâ€. A question we ask again of again of Bangladesh cricket each year. Where next?
R is for Razzak. Big blow. Â Abdur Razzak gets dinged again for his bowling action. He was called by umpires Daryl Harper and Ashoka da Silva in after Bangladesh's home series against New Zealand. After an independent analysis on his bowling action showed that his elbow extension exceeded the 15 degree level of tolerance for both his stock delivery and fast ball, the ICCC suspended him from international cricket. Â Razzak has vowed to make a speedy return saying he believes his action can be corrected.
S is for Sakib
Al Hasan. Yes, I know he already has a letter but does he not merit yet another one? Here is something new: His 5-wicket haul and half-century in the first Test against Sri Lanka was the second time he has achieved this feat this year. He had done the same earlier against New Zealand in the Chittagong Test in October.
T is for for Tamim Iqbal. A shout out for a very solid performer of the past year. He may just be Â½ of the solution to our opener dilemma.
U is for undone. Ash gets undone and slaps a fan. Repeated taunts of â€œAshraful bhuaâ€ (Ashraful Rubbish) had Ashraful see red and the fan see stars. The BCB then had a disciplinary hearing and found him in gross violation of the BCB Code of Conduct and decided to deduct 25 percent from his retainer for the month of March 2008. Ashraful later apologized for this incident.
V is vicfor Victory and Vettori. First, the good news. We did have a fine ODI victory against a top 8 side this year. Our first ODI win against the visiting Kiwis was orchestrated by Junaid Siddiqui, Mushfiqur Rahim and the much maligned Ashraful. The emphatic 7 wicket victory with 27 balls to spare shut up the mutterings of the critics against Bangladesh that had started after the down under tour. Unfortunately the bad oft follows the good. The visitors captain Vettori must have been upset by this victory that he decided to pull an Inzi and deny what could have been Bangladeshâ€™s first major Test and series win. Aided by a resolute 79 from Daniel Vettori, New Zealand chased down 317 in the 4th innings. Vettoriâ€™s 9 wickets and 2 half-centuries was the difference.
Wis for the womenâ€™s cricket team. Coming off a successful ACC championship in 2007, the Bangladesh womenâ€™s team head to the big leagues as they play in the 2008 Womenâ€™s Asia Cup. Bangladesh scores their first win against an ODI nation as they defeat Pakistan by 4 wickets. Captain Salma Khatunâ€™s unbeaten 53 was instrumental in the win as was off-spinner Tithy Sarkarâ€™s 4-34 restricted Pakistan to 134.
X is for sign here. The Nimbus sponsorship deal is finally signed. After the board was reconstituted by the care-taker government, the new board led by Major General Jamali decided to give a long hard look into the deal after questions about transparency popped up.
Y is ofor youth is made of sterner stuff. The new breed of players seems to have a stronger mettle. Bangladesh Cricket
is just fine.
Zis for Zunaid. No not Junaid, Zunaed, Junaed, Zuniad or Junid. Not the cricket player but the author. Â And why not?