Vol. 5 Num 66 Sun. August 01, 2004  

Toothless Tigers home

A bruised and battered Bangla-desh cricket team returned home yesterday but not before Habibul Bashar's men endured a bumpy ride on a Thai Airways flight from Bangkok.

The national cricketers had a goose bump when the Thai aircraft reportedly had to off-load its fuel in the sky over Myanmar and took a U-turn to the Thai capital. The same plane resumed its flight to Dhaka after repairs and finally touched down at Zia International Airport at around 4.30pm, four hours behind schedule.

And when the so-called underachievers of coach Dav Whatmore disembarked they were in no mood to talk to waiting reporters.

Skipper Bashar however spoke briefly as Whatmore stayed back in Colombo to spend time with his family.

"We did not play well in the tournament and I think our individual performance was far below expectation," said Bashar, who led the team to a solitary win against minnows Hong Kong in the Eighth Asia Cup.

But Bangladesh fared badly against the top three giants of the region -- India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. They lost all their four games (twice against Pakistan) without putting up a decent fight.

"They are superpowers and definitely to win against any of them would require a superhuman effort. But we failed to even push them on any given day," he said adding that the batting of his side was the biggest letdown of the whole competition.

Bangladesh failed to score even 200 runs in any of the four games.

Only three batsmen Javed Omar, Mohammad Ashraful and wicketkeeper Khaled Mashud managed to make half-centuries in the meet.

Regarded as the top batsman of the country, Bashar also failed to lead by example.

"I also let the team down though I had to open the innings for a few matches after Javed got injured. But I'm not offering it as an excuse," he said.

With the Asia Cup over, the Tigers will now turn their attention to next month's ICC Champions Trophy in England. Before that the think-tank needs to have a long and hard look into the composition of the team. Because the time for repeatedly referring to Bangladesh's performances in one-day cricket as some sort of learning curve is well and truly over.

The cricket world is sick and tired of seeing a team with a Test tag losing in such a way that makes a mockery of any contest.

Although the selection panel led by Faruque Ahmed persisted with a set of technically flawed cricketers, people have now started to say Bangladesh would be better served had the old guards like Akram, Aminul and Minhazul were still playing for the country.

It was very irritating to watch a player batting at number four or five who did not know even how to take a proper guard. We are too quick to brand any player as an all-rounder without taking notice of his real performance with either bat or ball over a certain period of time.

The team went to Sri Lanka 15 days ahead of the competition but the time spent as build-up was never in evidence.

After spending more than a year as Bangladesh coach, Whatmore has suddenly realised he needs to have a long and hard discussion with the other selectors. But no matter what they discuss ahead of the next international assignment, one thing our present lot of cricketers proved is that they are simply mediocre. And if there is any argument about their talent then we beg to differ because talent is only one per cent while the other 99 being effort on the field.

DEJECTED FACES: Bangladesh team's tour operations manager Golam Nowsher (R) sitting down while cricketers (L-R) Abdur Razzak, Alok Kapali, Rajin Saleh, Manjarul Islam and Tapash Baisya wait inside the VIP Lounge of Zia International Airport upon their return from the Asia Cup yesterday. PHOTO: STAR