58 All Out: Bangladesh need to reform attitude to win at International Cricket!

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Latest embarrassments for Bangladesh isn’t for the lack of talent, but their attitude needs polishing before they can succeed consistently at top level cricket.


It might be harsh to criticize a nation which is only fifteen years into international cricket. More so, on the day they have crashed to a humiliating 58 not out. After all, Sri Lanka had crumbled to 43 all out (Paarl) and Pakistan were 49 all out against the same opposition as well. Bangladesh themselves had humiliated West Indies for 61 all out as recently as three years ago. That being said, among test-playing nations only Zimbabwe features more often for sub-60 scores in completed ODI innings more often than Bangladesh. Given the squad, the talent, the financial problems, absence from international cricket and political issues – this is more of a shame for Bangladesh than Zimbabwe.


It isn’t the lack of talent. Their key players have had individual success at top flight cricket for a while now. Tamim Iqbal, who announced himself with that seminal win over India in World Cup 2007, showed that he can mix it in with the best. His test cricket exploits in England (where he was one of Wisden’s cricketers, 2010) ahead of Sehwag and Graeme Smith speaks for itself. Shakib al-Hasan has regularly wrestled for the ‘top allrounder’ tag with Kallis, and even managed to upstage him in IPL as the regular all-rounder for the team, twice being part of the winnings KKR outfit. Mashrafe Mortaza, Rubel Hossain, Sohag Gazi (the only player with century and hattrick in the same test), Mahmudullah and Abdur Razzak are proven performers.


To top it, today the youngster Taskin Ahmed has a dream debut. Five wickets for 28, as he whipped up some good pace was eye-catching already. Even more impressive was the fact that he quickly absorbed the lessons of discipline from the senior bowler, Mortaza – and refrained from experimenting too much on a pitch which was already providing plenty of assistance. For a 19-year old that was remarkable! You may say it was just hare-brained batting and lack of patience which undid Bangladesh. After all, the inexperienced India team was even called ‘India A’ by skipper Mushfiqur Rahim. But there in lies the problem if you scratch below the surface.


The problem with Bangladesh isn’t what it used to be from 2000-2006, when they would regularly get overawed by bigger names in rival squads. Former captain Akram Khan even recounted a hilarious story when Bangladesh players once walked up to Ponting and Lee, asking them for autographs. His nephew Tamim has banished all those demons with his slapped four against Zaheer Khan. Today, the issue is much more with managing their expectations and keeping their focus.


Tamim‘s ill-advised ‘ordinary’ and ‘nothing special’ jibe against Zimbabwe was the one of the many incidents which proves that while being ‘confident’ is swell, tripping over the line isn’t so. At that point, he averaged 40+ in Test matches, with four test centuries. Since then, he averages 31 with no test tons. In ODIs too, in last three years he has only one century and an average below 30 (from nearly 40 matches). There is only one ‘ordinary’ player which is revealed in these stats. Especially since Bangladesh themselves felt aggrieved when Sehwag used the jibe against them, Tamim should’ve known better. Sehwag’s far superior record at international level didn’t make his attitude right, Tamim’s ends up looking plain silly.


Mohd. Ashraful and Shahriar Nafees, two of their more talented batsmen have also had moments of indiscretion. Ashraful once responded to his poor consistency with ‘when Ashraful plays well… Bangladesh wins‘. He has since fallen to disgrace for match-fixing. Nafees on the other hand found it relevant to question batting records of some of his team-mates by stating ‘their record is built on good scores against Zimbabwe‘. Did one test century against Australia give him that license? In any case, post his ICL misadventures, his form hasn’t even warranted a regular spot in the team.


Shakib too, has had numerous incidents of clashing with the fans and arrogance towards journalists – both physical and verbal. He is the best player, perhaps best ever produced by the nation. But it doesn’t give him the license to misbehave, often on camera. It isn’t his duty to play role model to numerous Bangladeshi kids who idolize him. But it is his burden, as it is for any international player. His recent ban by Bangladesh Cricket Board for crossing the line once too many times hasn’t changed much as he again clashed with a fan during the first match of this series. Talent isn’t your ticket to arrogance.


Mushfiqur Rahim‘s pre-series harps of ‘India would lose, not India A’ were again, ill-timed even to the neutral observer. Bangladesh hadn’t won a single ODI in 2014 in nine attempts, had failed to retain the coach under whom they showed some progress, and it probably was a time when Rahim should’ve focused on his and his team’s performances.Today, yet again, their inability to bat out time while chasing a meagre total of 105 only showed that their international first-choice team is even worse that second-string teams of India. Even after the first few wickets, batsman after batsman turned up to simply try and slog their way to victory, ending up gifting their wickets. Let’s be honest, ‘India A’ isn’t exactly full of world class bowlers. It is not so much the failure, or one bad day – but the complete lack of respect for patience, application and consistent hard work.


Already, the image of the nation has suffered much with rampant corruption charges in BPL, big players like Ashraful (and even umpires) admitting to match-fixing and financial mismanagements. Foreign cricket boards like ECB and CA even warned their players against plying their trade in domestic cricket of Bangladesh. It is unfair to start joining the chorus for their demotion from international cricket, but the voices will keep growing louder with these sort of displays.


There is much to love about the passion for cricket in Bangladesh. It is about time their players reformed their attitude to give the minimum respect their fans deserve.


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