Keep it in perspective |
Shayan Khan, Dhaka
The Bangladesh cricket team deserves the plaudits for their performances in the Test series against Australia. They deserve loving, encouraging pats on their hopefully strong backs. They deserve to be commended. They deserve to be applauded even. But please, do not let all this extend to hero-worship. Since being granted Test status in 2000, and perhaps even before that, it is hard to remember a better phase of good, consistent cricket from our self-proclaimed Tigers. I personally put our performances in the two defeats Down Under over our victory against Pakistan in that quite unforgettable match at Wantage Road four years ago. Wantage Road, 1999 was unforgettable. Darwin and Cairns, 2003 are indispensable. In winning against Pakistan we showed that like all other dogs, we too would have our day. But against Australia, despite losing, we showed that unlike many other dogs, we could fight and scrap and bite and scuffle till the very end. This is the indispensable lesson we have learnt which we cannot forget if our cricket is to progress. And in a way, it is better that we have learnt these lessons in defeat rather than victory.
It is absolutely pointless to compare our performances with those of other nations against the world champions and spin fantasies like we were better than Pakistan and West Indies. To imagine them beside us would only serve to hamper our drive towards catching up with them where they really are, which is a long way in front. That is why we should assess our performance in of itself. What have we proved to sympathisers like Steve Waugh, critics like David Hookes and most importantly, to ourselves? We proved we can bat freely and yet keep wickets in hand on the first day at Cairns. We proved we can bowl and field efficiently if not spectacularly on the first day at Darwin. We proved we have a bowler coming through who deserves the respect of the opposition in Mashrafee. And a batsman bestowed with the guts to stand up to big, mean fast bowlers at the top of the order in Hannan Sarkar. And that together as a unit, we can be competitive although not yet dominant. The players and Dav Whatmore, the coach, really looked determined to turn things around. And although completing the turn may take a long time, at least the indicator light is flashing the right way.
And despite the commendable performances against Australia, they must have only one thing on their minds. Improve. Improve further. You can never stop improving. Trying to find the same level of performance against Pakistan next month will only serve to make you miss it and fall on the wrong side. Ask yourselves why 150/1 had to turn to 295 all out in the first inning of the second Test. Ask yourselves why you lost six wickets in the first session of the last day of play in the series. Mashrafee must look into why 3-34 off 17 overs had to turn into 3-74 off 22 overs in the first Test. Hannan must regret not being able to turn one of his magnificent fifties in the second Test into a heroic hundred. And Ashraful, our little jewel, must learn to cultivate some caution with his breathtaking inborn aggression. The importance of self-criticism must never be underestimated. At this stage of infancy, every step must be treated as a platform for jumping on to the next step, not as a destination. And our cricketers will only be able to do that if we let them and make them. So praise them. Applaud them. Love them.