A stands for audacious approach. The Tigers this year have proved that they no longer belong to the circle of the meek even when they play against the big guns. We are yet to be a big boy of the cricket world, but the fearless, bold, and daring approach demonstrated by the tigers throughout the year established Bangladesh as the most unpredictable ODI and T20 outfit of the cricket world. Being labeled as giant killers is recognition of this approach.
B is for Boot Camp Training, commando style. After the nightmare in Lanka, Bangladesh cricket board arranged for an Australian style Boot Camp in the north-eastern district of Sylhet for the boys. Under the supervision of a special warfare unit the training camp sought to repair the broken psyche and physique of the Tigers. It paid off! And how! In the Twenty20 World Cup a resurgent Bangladesh trounced West Indies by six wickets and stormed into the second round.
C is for captain. After Habibul Bashar’s horrible run drought during the world cup and the home series against India that followed, Mohammad Ashraful, the greatest ever cricketing talent to walk in the cricket pitch , was appointed as the captain, and Bangladesh had its first captain from post test-status generation. Although a young captain, up till now Mohammad Ashraful has not disappointed his fans. A glittering century against his personal favorite Sri Lanka, a blistering 21 ball fifty against West Indies saw Bangladesh in the second round of ICC T20 world cup, and above all the attacking mindset. So far so good, isn’t it?
D denotes Death Group. When the grouping for World Cup 2007 was being done, cricket pundits didn’t hesitate at all to consider a fast rising team like Bangladesh as a minnow along with Bermuda. Heartening is the fact that cricket pundits had to reverse their position. New Zealand’s demolition by the Tigers in the warm-up match had gripped the pundits with an unknown fear, and group B was promptly labeled as the group of death by them. [বাংলা]যেখানে বাঘের ভয়, সেখানে সন্ধ্যা হয়[/বাংলা] (Danger often comes where danger is feared). [বাংলা]বাঘতো ছিলই, সন্ধ্যা হতেও আর দেরি হয়নি[বাংলা/]। Surely enough, the Tigers sent the financial power house of the International Cricket Council (ICC) packing from the first round, leaving the pundits to continue their research on finding the best way to prevent the elimination of big boys from the first round in ICC world cups.
E epitomizes the beginning of a new Era. With a new coach and a new young captain, Bangladesh cricket stepped into a new era in 2007 with a vision of world cup 2011 in mind. It is needless to say that Tigers need to work very hard to convert this vision into reality.
F is for fans. With two World Cups held in 2007, the spirit of the tiger fans reached its peak. During the World cup 2007, the fans flocked together in the Caribbean shores from Japan to US, from Canada to Bangladesh to follow and encourage their heroes in the field. The heroes didn’t disappoint their ever enthusiastic 12th men. At the same time detestable act like effigy burning also took place this year. Unlike their crazy Indian or Pakistani counterparts, Bangladesh fans were always behind their beloved cricketing heroes even in their bad days. The attitude took a U-turn due to sky-rocketing expectations after Bangladesh’s second round berth. After Bangladesh’s 10 wicket loss against the mighty Oz, a group of impatient fans burnt an effigy of then captain Habibul Bashar. The synopsis of this detestable act highlights a fact, and that is: There must be healthy balance between a team’s ability to perform and the expectation of their fans, and this balance is inevitable for the further progress of the Bangladesh Cricket team.
G is for Grameen Phone. Grameen Phone, in exchange of Taka 61.5 million , won the sponsorship of Bangladesh National Cricket Team again for two more years. Over the years, Grameen Phone and Bangladesh cricket has become inseparable: Be it sponsorship, supporting the Cricket Academy, transportation of national cricketers, production of national kit, advertisement, or conducting Pacer Hunt-Grameen Phone is everywhere. On a different note, G also stands for Grunting. As in our resident Seles-wanna-be Shahadat Hossain Rajib. Unfortunately he had to stop his natural “expressions” after Lanka captain rather uncharitably whinged on about his grunting being a means of distracting batsmen’s concentration.
H is for Hong Kong Cricket sixes 2007. Repeating their 1997 heroics, Bangladesh defeated world champion Australia in this fun event.
I represents Ispahani Mirzapore National Cricket League. Love it or hate it-this is the only first class cricket league that we have. The organizers this time promised a different national league. Except for monetary incentive and competition among players, our national league remained pretty much the same, especially in terms of quality of pitch, umpiring, and fielding. Few big scores, inconsistent performance, especially from our own Galacticos. Sad, but true.
J refers to Jamie Siddons, the new guru of Tigers. His biggest challenge is to figure out our ‘inconsistency’ problem and fix it. Go ahead Siddons, take heart from the wish, spirit, and prayer of 150 million tiger fans.
K is for our Kiddo wicketkeeper Mushfiqur Rahim. Never short of words behind the stumps, the kid also showed his brilliance in front of the stumps. His unbeaten half century against India in World Cup , and his innings of 80 against the Lankans bear the testimony to this budding talent.
L is for our Left Arm Spin Trio. The combination of Mohammad Rafique’s uncanny accuracy and experience, Abdur Razzaq’s versatility and intelligence, and Shakib al Hasan’s heart and determination produced a spin trio, the likes of which was never seen before in the history of one dayers. The trio snatched 12 wickets in at an average of 17.75 in Bangladesh’s world cup triumphs against India and South Africa, which speaks about the lethality of our left arm spin trio.
M Minnows no more (in ODIs and T20s). With four giants (IND, SA, NZ, WI) killed in 2007, who dares to call us minnow again? (Asides from sore losers like S Rajesh and Mandira Bedi ). M is also for the missed opportunities. In a couple of occasions in 2007, when our bowlers set the tone (1st ODI of Lakshya ODI series against Lanka, and also in the T20 World Cup match against the same opposition), batsmen failed; and when batsmen set the stage, defensive captain let the opposition snatch the match (first ODI against India in post world cup home series).
N New Look selection comittee. Led by Mohammaed Rafiqul Alam, our new selection committee features Naimur Rahman and Akram Khan. The new selection panel is expected to carry on the professionalism of left by their predecessor, and should execute their responsibilities with a view of 2011 World Cup in mind.
O Opening Spark (and then fade). After Shahriar Nafees’s superb year-round display with the bat in 2006, fans heaved a sigh of relief thinking that Bangladesh finally had a dependable opener. A major flop during the World Cup and subsequent matches, and we all know the rest… (dropped for NZ). ‘Butcher’ Tamim then declared his emergence with fearless marauding charges down the track, and everyone was thinking that a Bangladeshi Afridi was in the making. But alas! His technical deficiencies were exposed even before fans woke up from dreaming. Next to step up to the stage was Nazimuddin. After astonishing displays in the T20 WC warm-up matches, fans were preparing for a thrilling entertainment, only to discover his name in the list of biggest disappointments of T20 tourney. Waiting in the pavilion are Zunaed Siddique and Imrul Kayes. Considering the trend of BD openers, it is better if the fans remain in prayers instead of dreams.
P brings tear in our eyes as it reminds us of the Premature death of two of our young cricketers- Manjarul Islam Rana and Sajjadul Islam Setu . Manjarul Rana is the only Bangladeshi bowler who got a wicket in his first international over. May their souls rest in heavenly peace.
Q illustrates Quiet Departures of Davenell Frederick Whatmore and Paul Chapman. Whatmore, the mastermind behind the success of Bangladesh Cricket, from the renaissance after our infamous 2003 World Cup debacle to the World Cup 2007 second round berth, ended his tenure with Bangladesh right after the home series against India. By installing self-belief among the tigers through his individual improvement mantra, this great coach took Bangladesh cricketers to a new level from where we can now expect them to become world beaters in the near future. Physio Chapman, also pulled the curtail down after serving Bangladesh for seven years. Hats off to both of you. On a lighter note, Q is also for Queen’s Park Oval Stadium, where Bangladesh created history beating India and Bermuda.
R is for Rasel. Though under-appreciated for his lack of pace, this quiet hero has proved himself tremendous for Bangladesh pace attack with his Glen McGrath type accuracy and ability to contain. The silent killer, when he dismissedthe West Indian master-blaster Gayle for nought, became the first ever bowler in the history of Twenty20 cricket to achieve maiden wicket in the maiden over of the innings. His first two wicket breakthroughs (Smith and Kallis) were instrumental in Bangladesh’s remarkable win against South Africa in the ODI World Cup; a feat that, typically, was eclipsed by Ashraful’s dazzling paddle sweeps.
S is a reminder of our Seventh spot. After Tigers mauled South Africa, a dream semifinal spot was peeping in the hearts of millions, but that fatal ‘inconsistency’ intervened. A shocking loss against Ireland, and Bangladesh wobbled to finish as the seventh team. Still if you had offered that to a BD fan at the beginning of the tourney, who would have not taken that in a heart beat?
T could stand for our Test performance, or rather the lack thereof. Unlike ODIs, the equation of our test standing is very simple: Old Bangladesh = New Bangladesh. Coming back to the test arena after a 13 months layoff was almost a like a re-birth, true, but it will be a shame if we attribute that absence to be the main reason behind our shoddy performances (such as king pairs and double digit innings totals). The only bright spots, although it is like trying to find light in a black hole, are a rain hit draw against India, and the highest 191 runs partnership between Mushfiqur Rahim and Mohammad Ashraful, which is Bangladesh’s highest Test partnership for any wicket.
U stands for unsavory – just about the most charitable word one can use to describe the comments that Mandira Bedi – an Indian tv personality – made after Bangladesh clinically dispatched India in the World Cup match. No doubt that it hurt the tiger fans and well wishers, but a moment after that they felt: Who cares? Tigers delivered when it mattered most.
V reminds us of the vulnerability of our batsmen on bouncy pitches. And it has been proved over and over. On the Kensington Oval pitches, where Bangladesh played the last three matches, our Tigers were really clueless against bounce. Same happened during our dreadful Lanka tour. Some tigers stood tall on occasions and played a heroic innings or two, but unfortunately those were enough merely to save the blushes. Do we still play to save our blushes? BCB should think about it , and create pitches accordingly for first class matches.
W sums up the success of our Women cricketers. Despite having not much in terms of facilities and attention, the brave-heart [বাংলা]বাঘিনি[/বাংলা]s showed a lot of promise and became the unbeaten champion of the ACC women’s tournament held at Malaysia in July.
X signifies the X factor characteristic (focus, unselfishness, toughness in endurance, intelligence-knowing your business, and perseverance) of Bangladesh team. When the X-factor chemistry works properly, the roar of Tigers are heard everywhere in the world.
Y is for our Youthful exuberence of our cricketers. It is exciting to watch the youthful verve of Bangladesh cricket team, but time has come when our young tigers need to take more responsibility. Our cricket has entered into a phase where we cannot make youthful exuberance the scapegoat of our failure anymore.
Z depicts Zizou Dance, the celebratory dance of the tiger. Invented by Mohammad Ashraful, the zizou dance added glamour to our glorious world cup success. On a lighter note, Z also evokes our memory of Zimbabwe tour, because our hard fought first oversees series win against a test playing nation was a perfect morale booster before the World Cup.