Between expectation and fantasy

Friday, April 8th, 2011
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Towheed Feroze

For Bangladesh, the days of tension and calculations are over. We are not going to the last eight, but seriously, did we, in a state of logical mind, expect to end up in the quarter finals? The truth is that, we forced such an expectation on us. And, that we did while we got carried away by the world cup emotion. But maybe a few wins last year also inflated our hopes. Records do say that we whitewashed New Zealand and the won several one day matches – with a memorable victory against England. But that is hardly enough to start harbouring lofty ambitions! Sorry to say, we knew that in our mind but just didn’t want to admit it. No, when papers and cricket gurus –which we have in droves now – are making the issue of failure to reach the last eight a national issue of mourning, I would say that we have ended the World Cup campaign with success.


Yes, I know there are two games where the total runs of the combined team could not reach a three figure number. But this is cricket and its stunning ability to shock. When you play it, you have to prepare for such possibilities too!


But our main problem was that we forgot that not too long ago we were a struggling team among the top flight, losing almost nine out of ten matches. That is not to denigrate our achievements. In fact, among the second tier teams Bangladesh is the only team which can give a real scare to any big name.  Apologies for calling us a second tier team but let’s be frank about the reality and not beat about the bush. We are on the verge of the top level of second tier teams and the last level of top class ones. That is not a bad feat either considering that it was only 14 years ago when we beat Kenya in the finals of the ICC Trophy to qualify for the World Cup.


In 14 years we have won quite a lot and have beaten every top team at least once. In addition, we beat England in a crunch World Cup match and while some decide to plunge themselves in frustration over a few dismal performances, we need to focus on the wins and what we have gained. Before the tournament started Bangladesh team players and officials promised to win three matches and, let’s not forget, the players delivered three matches. Maybe, we need to go back and look at the Ireland match which was going their way when luck turned on our side. At one stage Ireland were 140 for three and needed only 65 runs to win it! Let’s change the sides and imagine Bangladesh in Ireland’s position and then try to digest the defeat. We won that match but more than half way through, it belonged to them. Again, come to the match against England. At 169 for 8 and about seventy more needed to win – the task seemed impossible. How many teams have managed to salvage a win out of a dire situation like that? After the loss to South Africa, a game which Bangladesh needed to win to keep hopes alive for a possible quarter final berth, a lot of people said that the team collapsed under pressure. If that is so then how can one describe the tense situation against England? Wasn’t the pressure high then? But in the end we managed to scrape through.


Well, as most cricket analysts are talking about falling flat in front of pressure this writer believes that we have not come to a stage where we can win three matches at a stretch. That means match temperament needs to grow. The loss against South Africa broke hearts but if we come out of the fog of emotion and look at the scene realistically we will understand that Bangladesh still has not become a team to win four matches at a stretch against different opponents. That is not to say that the future is dark. We have effectively identified the power of our spin attack, found the weaknesses of other teams and now need to concentrate on making our batting more dependable. For good reason, that will not come in days or weeks.


Before the World Cup started, overconfident supporters foresaw four wins and against that we have three. It ain’t that bad!


Perhaps a comparison with the football world cup is needed. We always see that new teams provide some shock in the first stage but in the end very few manage to move to the knock out stages. As the competition moves to the tougher phase, it’s always the old names and the same has happened for the cricket world cup.


Bangladesh will play in the quarters some day and we dream to lift the cup one day but everything has a process and the path to glory is littered with unimaginable upsets, humiliating defeats, scurrilous comments from deranged turbaned cricket specialists and sporadic loss of hope. But the success lies in the act of rising above all these demoralising episodes and taking the field with the desire to win and silence all detractors. Bangladesh has done this in the past and they will do it again. We will only pray that they learn to do that more often. As for this world cup we can say without hesitation: Shabash Bangladesh team! You have done us proud!

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