Tigers need to build on Asia Cup success
ON THURSDAY, the Bangladesh national cricket team came agonisingly close to presenting the country with another rich accolade — that of becoming Asian champions — as they fell only two runs short of the target set by the Pakistan team. The entire country and Bangladeshis the world over spent the day glued to their televisions and radios to watch what could have been, and in some ways still is, the finest moment in Bangladesh cricket ever since we secured Test status more than a decade back. In the end, tears were not only shed by the players, but hundreds of thousands of success-starved cricket fans as well. Despite the defeat, Tigers were paid rich tributes by the fans and pundits alike for the level of skill and consistency they displayed during this Asia Cup tourney, in the process of beating world champions India, former world champions Sri Lanka, and twice coming close to beating Pakistan. But such is the nature of any sport — that there is a winner and loser in the end — and heartbreakingly for the Bangladeshi fans, it was not to be Bangladesh’s day. The disappointment, however, comes coated with great hopes for the future judging by the levels of performances on display over the last two weeks.
There is often a tendency to overanalyse things when the chips are down and to gloss over all shortcomings when on a high. Such tendencies should certainly be avoided, and in this moment of bittersweet triumph, it is well worth revisiting the reasons that brought on this success. The first and most obvious reason appears to be team spirit, which was well reflected in the collective performance of the Bangladesh team. The likes of Sakib al Hasan, Tamim Iqbal, Mushfiqur Rahim, Mashrafee bin Mortaza, Mahmudullah and Abdur Razzak — the core of current side — have been playing together for a while now and share a rapport and camaraderie that is even obvious to the television screens, and the selectors deserve credit for being consistent in their selection of them for a number of years. The danger, of course, is the unhealthy interference of superior powers, as was the case with Tamim, and this Asia Cup should once and for all nail home the fact that selection should be left to professional selectors.
It has also been noted that that Asia Cup comes on the back of the Bangladesh Premier League, and though T20 cricket may not always be the ideal platform to develop cricket, one cannot help but notice that the exposure of local players to competitive and international standard domestic cricket has certainly endowed our players with an aggressive edge. What our cricket organisers should realise from this is that our national team will always be as good as the quality of our domestic cricket. If we want to sustain such performances in the future, than it is not just the BPL, but every format of the game should be played at that same level, in domestic cricket.
After the Asia Cup we have high hopes for the future. However, we should also remember that we have had similar highs in the past — the 4-0 win against New Zealand in a one-day series, coming close to beating Pakistan in a Test match in Pakistan, beating India and South Africa in the 2007 World Cup and one-day match victory over the invincible Australia in 2005 in Cardiff — only to return soon to our usual underperformances and failures soon after. If we really want to sustain the success and form of the Asia Cup, than it is time the authorities addressed, once and for all, the issues holding back our cricket, such as the poor quality of local cricket and the undue interference of administrators, so that we have to no longer take steps backward in the path to our progress.
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