Sunday, May 19, 2019
Updated: Thursday, December 01, 2011
Gopal Ruminates

Zeeshan Mahmud

Gaius Julius Caesar, when young, was once captured by pirates who asked 20 talents of silver for the man's ransom. Caesar insisted they ask for 50 talents! It is said that even in captivity the mighty Roman maintained a superior demeanor. He boasted to his captors that one day he would have them tracked down and killed one by one. And he did just that.

Whatever feelings one may harbor towards the dictator, from an early age Caesar was a man of action and not just empty words: There are not many mortals lying around who can brag and back up the words with proper action. For an example that hits home, it is downright sad to see that Bangladeshi players many a times have been baited with (and goaded to engage in) "trash talk" which they subsequently failed to manifest with results on field.

The Bangladesh camp therefore might as well have a gag order if they want to pull a fast one on Pakistanis as the historical month of December approaches. One cannot, regardless of political stance, separate the history from the sports given the two country's past. It's not about blind patriotism but rather a test of fidelity. Once they have acknowledged the past (Bangladesh liberating itself from West Pakistan in '71), the players need to keep their emotions in check and let their game do the talking.

So what of the "legionaries" who have been chosen? Farhad Reza has been recalled and Elias Sunny included in the fifteen-men squad; weeded out Ashraful, Junaed, Shuvogato Hom and Shuvo. Sunny may be the trump card while Reza, who has not played since 2008 (ICL saga) needs to perform at a hitherto higher level than the mediocrity which which has marked his international career to date.

Rickhsa Practice

The hosts have added a quirky routine to their training schedule of riding rickshaws on the ground to increase their stamina, if not to have come back with new-found respect for the hard-working labor of the countless rickshaw pullers.

Stuart Law, admittedly still green in his tenure, may have shown out-of-the-box style of thought with this "try-cycle" curriculum, but it will still be sticking the basics that will ensue any prospects of win (or draw when the Tests roll around). As some say, to be extraordinary, be ordinary. Take McGrath for instance; he was no maverick from outer space but the man could pretty much hit any spot on the crease, at will and often.

Any fan is by now familiar with the recurring motif of Bangladesh after a hiatus: Start with bang, with early breakthroughs (recall Mashrafee's jaffa to Jaffer) or run-fest only to be followed by a yet more familiar collapse of top order. Then script progress, the burden of resurrection of it falling on Iceman or Mushfiq. Of course we cannot help but wonder why not fix this issue that has been foreshadowed in so many of collapses of the team? Perchance lobotomies for all the batters?

On the field, Ajmal no doubt will be the biggest threat and the fact that Pakistan pretty much steam-rolled Sri Lanka adds to the portents of doom. Bangladesh, of course, beat Pakistan only once and that was in '99 World Cup and since then the Pakistanis have enjoyed a one-sided monopoly.

Bangladeshis would need to implement the basics of building partnership, rotate strikes, cut down rash aerial shots, keep fielding tidy abetted with economy from bowlers, etc. Yes, the trick after all would be to keep it simple, and to unfurl a cricket clothed with deceptive boredom, yet all the same whole being greater than the part.

Anyway, it's all hunky-dory to spin yarns of theories from my armchair. As an expat not being able to relish live experiences, I can only counsel to take the home-court advantage to full throttle. I invite all 160 millions of fans, a wave of red and green of all faith, creed and path to flood the stadium and create conducive atmosphere which would be - to mildly put in one member's word- ELECTRIC. After all, that is the spirit of the real victors in the patriotic month and one that pays homage to history.