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Opinion - Saber and his dinosaurs


1 June 1998

Bangladesh's early and rather disgraceful exit from the tri-nation Coca-Cola Cup, has once again succeeded in inspiring much controversy and criticism.

Adda-khanas and dinner-tables have not been strangers to questions such as ``Should we have batted first?'' and ``Was the pitch, one that pertains to international standards?'' and even, ``Is Greenidge doing his job well enough?'' These attitudes are of course typical of our cricket loving community, and the luxury of hind-sight allows them to excel at roles ranging from 'captain' to 'pitch expert' and even 'head of the selection committee;' Yours truly, being no exception. But having said all that, I refer back to my first sentence and attract attention to the use of the word 'disgraceful' which stands in dispute with a report in one of the local dailies, which has very patronisingly dubbed our team's performance as 'disappointing but not disgraceful.'

To dismiss the possibility of being accused of unnecessary harshness, I must admit that I did watch our boys salvage some of their pride in the end, in the way they managed to effect a veritable collapse in the Indian top order. And I must also admit that, having set a rather modest total on the board, they showed good spirit in defending it.

But all said and done, it is difficult to bring oneself to believe that this was the best that we could do. Disgraceful, if the public can salve their wounds with jubilant recollections of Athar Ali claiming the coveted wicket of Sachin Tendulkar. Disgraceful, that having chosen to bat on a well grassed track, Akram's tigers, especially the top-order, put up a poor, very poor show - attempting to flick and pull good-length balls from the off-stump. And, the middle order, betraying a complete lack of temperament, fell cheaply, or rather threw their wickets, at a time when their experience should have been enough to build the innings. Disgraceful indeed, that it took Hasibul Hossain Shanto's batting skills, at the crease that night as the number-ten batsman, to bring some colour back to the faces of all those fans, tuned to their televisions, distressed and apprehensive of an inevitable outcome.

Personally, this defeat, I believe should in all probability, have healthy repercussions in the BCB. It has once again brought to the notice of the selectors that the present Bangladesh team has more liabilities to carry through a match, than the assets to offset their detrimental effect. Akram Khan and company - with all due respect, have made a tremendous contribution to the milestones we have reached in our cricketing exploits. But it is now time that they bow out with a grace that becomes their personalities, making room for the next generation of professional cricketers that our cricket-league has nurtured. The tell-tale sign of aging were all too apparent as Akram, Athar, Nannu and Moni seemed at best lackadaisical on the field, giving away runs where there weren't any and failing to capitalise on quick singles between the wickets. Sanjay Manjrekar was dangerously close to the mark, when he identified Bangladesh's problem as being the absence of cricketing talents more than anything else. We have, I admit, a disciplined side, with much experience. But international cricket demands that a team have a minimum amount of talent to bail itself out of sticky situations. And the good news is, the talent exists - in the form of dazzling young bowlers and batsmen who continue to prove their eligibility for the national side, through their league performances. The bad news remains that the selectors continue to ignore their talents.

So here's a wake-up call to all the selectors: Akram and company have become far too old to be playing competitive international cricket. I am sure the selectors would agree with me when I say that sending these ancient cricketers to the World Cup next year would be ludicrous if not suicidal. And banking on their prudence, if they are not planning to do so, I fail to see why they would want to send them to the forthcoming England tour. If it is the youngsters who will play the World Cup next year, it would be far wiser to give them the much needed exposure of touring England and getting acquainted with the conditions. Let us for once have the courage to incorporate some revolutionary changes into our national side. Dubbed Bangladeshi Tigers, by the cricketing world, if we don't have the strength and ferocity of this grand creature, let us at least display the courage that becomes the title.

Source: The Daily Star, Bangladesh
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Date-stamped : 01 Jun1998 - 18:37