Wednesday, December 19, 2018
Updated: Thursday, October 28, 2004
Pretty 20s, Bulbul, Zimbabwe Series & Winning Ugly!

Syed Shehwar Hossain

Well, the defeat at the hands of the Kiwis was expected. But it was the manner of the defeat that worries me. The sheer inability of our batsmen to stay at the wicket was very alarming. And one can't help feeling that this team, in spite of being talented, just can't cope up with the pressure of playing international cricket. I always believed that talent is one thing & materializing that talent is another. This current Bangladesh side is no doubt very talented but time and again they failed to deliver when it really mattered; the side is not fulfilling its potential.

One of the main reasons why one feels that way is that the current bunch of players haven't had much exposure at the domestic circuit & the lack of experience is clearly evident. For example, how can you expect a certain Aftab Ahmed to win you a match against an international side when he hasn't even played a match winning knock for his club side? There is no doubt about his talent but since he has been thrown right into the deep end, he'll probably get dropped unless he performs within the next 3-4 matches, which will eventually shatter all his confidence. So a 19 year old kid will have to take a huge step backwards even before his career had begun. I saw Aftab in the 2nd test against New Zealand & he looked pretty good indeed. But a pretty 20 or 30 is just not good enough at this level. There just have been way too many very pretty 20s & 30s by Bangladeshi batsmen & then they threw it away. It is mortifying to hear positive comments about a pure batsman who has scored only 20 odds.

Bulbul got dropped from the ODIs in 2002 & since he was my favorite player I remember almost all the innings I saw him play. He had scored 31 off 42 deliveries including 3 boundaries before being bowled by Razzaq trying to accelerate the scoring rate against Pakistan in the last ODI match he played. My question to the selectors is: If a 30 odd from a seasoned campaigner who could do it at the big stage & had done it before wasn't acceptable then how come the 20s have become so promising? Just because they are young? I'm sorry but I have to say that since 2002 we haven't been fielding our best eleven. The side that has been representing Bangladesh for the last 2-3 years has never reflected the real ability that Bangladesh possess. If we take a look at Kenya for example, they are performing better because they have been given the opportunity to play together for a good 7-8 years. So the player shortage for Kenya has really been a blessing in disguise. Even the world's best side would struggle if they go through wholesale changes let alone Bangladesh.

We need to score awful 100s

We need to score awful 100s

The critics of Aminul Islam compare his ODI average of 23.35 with the current players & figure out that he is not much better than the current bunch but what they don't realize is that it took him 14 years to play 39 ODIs! He made his ODI debut in 1988 in The 2nd Asia Cup against India. The current Indian team had a lay off of about 2 months & the whole team is struggling to the limit. Think about Aminul Islam who had to wait a good three-four years for a single ODI & then had to perform straight away! After gaining the test status Bangladesh had only started to play a few series on a regular basis when he unfairly got dropped. Now compare him with the players who play international cricket day in & day out & still almost all of them averages below him!

There were talks in the forum about Bulbul's last few innings in test cricket. Well, he was first dropped after he bagged a pair against Srilanka both times getting out to Muralidharan (Do I need to introduce him?) & the decisions were doubtful (silly point & short-leg bat-pad catches). If bagging a pair was the criteria of dropping a player then Atapattu should be immediately dropped & what about Ashraful? He has bagged a pair too in the ongoing 2nd test, that too in one day, hasn't he? And then he was brought back for the West Indies home series for just a single test. Yes folks, not the series but a single test & he was asked to perform. With so much pressure on him he failed to deliver & that was the end of that. Comebacks are always difficult, even for the likes of great Tendulkar. Giving Bulbul just that lone opportunity was sheer injustice.

Getting back to Bangladesh not fielding their best eleven, what a disgrace it is to see players like Alamgir Kabir, Ehsanul Haque play test cricket & Minhazul Abedin sitting in the sidelines (In fact not even the sidelines, he was never even in the squad!). But with our test status at stake we have to take some desperate measures. As we all know, our next series is against The Mighty Indians & if the World doesn't turn upside down we are more than likely to put up yet another dismal show. What we can do though is to look forward to the Zimbabwe series.

It might sound funny but we should take the Indian series as preparation for the real thing. BCB President Ali Asgar Lobi has already revealed that if we fail to beat Zimbabwe this time around then ICC will have to take strict measures so this really is our last opportunity. Now what I'm suggesting is a bit different. Since a lot of folks in this forum feel that it's not worth to bring back the senior players & since a few of us feel the other way around. I would suggest the cricket board to organize three unofficial Test matches between the current national side & a team consisting of Bulbul, Nannu, Akram, Mehrab, Naimur & company. Good 15 days of competitive cricket should be able to tell us what their match fitness's are like, what kind of forms they are in & more importantly who are really the best players in Bangladesh. I honestly feel this will boost our chances of doing well against Zimbabwe. Moreover, the selection of the team will be fare as only the best performing players from the lot will be selected.

This kind of arrangement is not the first time to happen. I believe The Cricket Control Board of India on a number of occasions made up three teams consisting of their best 45 players including some who had represented them before & made them play a tournament with the 15 best performing players proceeding to play for India. I feel it's a fair selection process & it will push the current national players to stay at the top of their game.

I reckon most people still don't realize how important this Zimbabwe series is for us. The future of Bangladesh cricket depends on this very series. Anything short of a convincing victory both in the test & ODI series will raise a lot of eyebrows. So we really need to pull up our socks & play to win. We don't necessarily have to look good in doing so. Because at the end of the day it's the victory that matters, no one will remember how we looked while doing so. The pretty 20s & 30s that our batsmen score on a regular basis will just not be good enough against Zimbabwe. We need someone to score an awful 100. Someone who will just occupy the crease, someone who will take a lot of blows to the body, someone who will craft an innings from the beginning to the end, someone who will take about 400 deliveries to reach hundred but will still fight it out in the middle. We really do need that certain someone against Zimbabwe. A few ugly hundreds from our batsmen will give our bowlers the platform to dominate from there on. Only that kind of an attitude will enable us to win & it's called WINNING UGLY.

The author is a distinguished member of banglacricket forum and goes by the nick "Shehwar" - editors