Thursday, October 05, 2023
Updated: Friday, April 06, 2007
World Cup '07 success: the line between expectation and celebration

Mijanul Akbar

Before the World Cup 2007 started, many fans thought that the Tigers would be able to put up little fight against India and Sri Lanka. They assumed that the Tigers might be able to manage a tight win against Bermuda at best. Some brought back the memories of World Cup 2003 as a comparison to why a loss against Bermuda might be on the card.

That was justified again with a narrow escape against Canada in the tri-series prior to the World Cup 2007. Then, after the win against New Zealand in a warm up match followed by the historic win against India in the World Cup opener, the cynical views have turned around completely. The claim abruptly turned into the belief that the "Tigers will beat Sri Lanka on its way to the Super 8s". The expectation was to win every game against all oppositions. That is too realistic to be true!

Tigers celebrating success during their opening match against India
Tigers celebrating success during their opening match against India © Cricinfo.

The reality, however, is in between the two extremes, as this is the sign that we are progressing towards the right direction. Judging by the recent performances, those who had calculated a win against India was possible, suddenly became the sane ones. But then again hyping it up on beating the Sri Lanka was an over expectation.

I have been arguing since the ICC Champions Trophy in 2006 that Sri Lanka is one of the best team of cricket world. Our win against India outlined a very professional performance, not a fluke one but Sri Lanka offered much difficult challenges for our boys.

I truly believed we would go to the Super 8's. Not by run-rate, but with 4 points. Now it's a reality. We have great chances in beating West Indies, Ireland and England in our super eights encounters. England team has been going through some lean patches and is practicing hard to make amends. We have to out-practice them to beat them. Put in the works first before we can get the result. I must add that the senior players must take more responsibilities and guide the young guns. Working as a unit can bring more successes. The word “synergy” was not created for nothing. Individually, talent-wise plus experience, we may not rank shoulder to shoulder to the other elite teams but collectively we can be better in any given day. This is uncharted territory for the Bangladesh team.

The fact is we are still at number 9 in the world rankings. Dav Whatmore, the coach and the motivator of this team, in an interview with Nagraj Gollapudi explains nicely about the Indian match and the current Bangladesh team’s standard. He says,

"It is just one match"

"There've been very much so isolated, just spasmodic victories. We can't expect the Bangladesh cricket team to be known anything other than the minnows unless you start to put more wins together";

And finally the comment that summarizes my approach:

"What have they being doing right! We've got a lot of things wrong, that's why we were ranked 10 and now we are nine. We are slowly emerging as a good side. Let's put this in perspective: you can't jump on the bandwagon and say, "listen, Bangladesh has turned the corner," like most in the media are trying to do. Okay, congratulate us; we've done well, yes. But it is just one match, we've got to keep going. We've done a lot of things wrong, lots and lots and lots of things wrong. We are now beginning to do a few things right, so let's give us more time."

"We've got to keep our feet on the ground. But at the same time the team is a lot better than what it was. We've had some very good judges tell us that we can surprise many and that is exactly what is happening. We've also got to keep our heads and we still got a good side - if we play to our potential we will do okay."

As fans, we have every right to dream on winning every match against all oppositions. But we should be able to judge our and opponents' strengths and weaknesses and make calculated guess. With the team, we need to mature our views, and respect the glorious uncertainty of cricket. It's time for fans' to look for the balance between boundless expectations and possible achievements.

Why I am saying this now? Because this is the time when not only the media but the fans will jump on the bandwagon as a fair weather friend and dish us when we perform below par. For the first time we have qualified for the second round in a World Cup event, the management must focus on the success and teach everyone starting from the captain to the 15th player what may go wrong and how to counter that. This is where a world cup winner like Dav Watmore can help Bashar on how to implement the strategies that were placed before each game starts. We have passed the infancy stage and moving along early childhood. Guidance is the most important thing that this team needs. Not praising or bashing.

The players must enjoy the game, so should the fans. The only way we can enjoy the sport is by taking a win as a win and a loss as a loss. We should not be at either of the extremes.