The lackluster and abysmal performance of Bangladesh cricket over the last few months has raised several intriguing questions.
The team affectionately called tigers by its millions adoring fans in Bangladesh and worldwide created sensation through a number of very competitive performances in the recent past especially in limited over versions of the game.
Very strong New Zealand got whitewashed twice. Bangladesh in the 2012 beat strong India and Sri Lanka and went down by the barest margin against Pakistan in the final of the Asia Cup. They competed admirably against West Indies and Sri Lanka.
But the downward slide started during the visit of Sri Lanka in end 2013. Their performance in test series was not that bad and could have won both T20 matches and first ODI. But got thoroughly Lanka washed losing all T20 and ODIs. In the Asia Cup that followed Bangladesh unfortunately lost to Afghanistan. They tried to bounce back against India, Sri Lanka and Pakistan. But failed to drive home advantages every time.
In T20 World Cup that followed the Asia Tigers look down and out – completely out of shorts. In the qualifying round after blowing out Afghanistan and Nepal they lost to Hong Kong. They crawled into super 10. But pitted against very strong oppositions in the group of death tigers failed to prove worthy of their place. They lost all matches without even creating any contest. The trail of defeat has already posed questions about Bangladesh eligibility in retaining full membership in the elite club of world cricket? The admirers of Bangladesh cricket cannot find a reasonable clue for the continued well below par performance of the team. Winning and losing are integral part of the game. But why team should not even put up the fight and repeatedly resort to abject surrender?
No one in the wildest of dream would expect Bangladesh to win against much stronger opposition India, Pakistan, West Indies or Australia in any version of the game unless any of the team implodes. In the recent past Bangladesh had given a good account of themselves against all teams especially on home ground. Fans wanted tigers to fight like tigers not tamed to pussy cat attitude.
It is fatigue after a lone season? Is it development of inferiority complex? Or is it that some near losses have panicked the players? Is it lack of temperament? Is it lack of commitment and professionalism of senior players?
The team think-tank and policy makers must do soul searching. Many of the players in the team have played enough cricket not to be panicked specially on home condition. Same players made similar mistakes in most cases which are not acceptable from professionals at this level.
Before the start of Asia Cup and T20 captain complained of ignoring him in the selection process. He had a point here. Did those create any uneasiness among the team management? Senior players like Tamim, Nasir and Mahmudullah performed well below par. Saquib and Mushfiqur occasionally batted well but could not play match winning innings after getting set. Bowling was pretty ordinary. Fielding was atrocious. In no match individual players could put together their acts in team effort. When all these happened Captian Mushfiqur found it extremely difficult to marshal his resources. He looked very confused on occasions and seemed stereotyped. It was very difficult to assess the game plan of Bangladesh team. The execution was extremely poor even if they had one for each match. Players look match fatigued and lack of enthusiasm. With this frame of mind it is impossible for the team to come around soon.
After the T20 assignment team must go back to drawing board and critically assess the performance. The basics need to be refocused. Several players in this T20 played great innings from where Bangladesh must take lesson. Minnows Holland and Ireland played much better cricket than Bangladesh. There is no harm in learning a lesson or two from them.
Possibly team management and BCB were not much focused for the home team’s performance. These days’ teams do extensive match planning, critical analysis of opponents and their key players. We do not know whether Bangladesh did that or how much they did? Even if these were done execution during the match was poor.
BCB, players must realize that cricket is the binding force of the nation and the team carries aspirations of 160 million Bangladeshis. Some wins and fights against major teams could have created lots of joy to joy hungry nation. BCB must do extensive soul searching and find out where do we lack? How we can set the root of our cricket deeper? How we can have greater pool of talented cricketers.
We need committed professional cricketers. We cannot go business as usual. We need specialist new ball bowlers and death over bowlers, quality all-rounder and definitely quality batsmen. Our fielding needs to be vastly improved. All these are required as soon a possible to justify our presence in the big league or we will remain as toddlers in the big fish.
BDST: 1845 HRS, APR 01, 2014