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     Volume 5 Issue 94 | May 12, 2006 |

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Still Waiting for Something

Nader Rahman

"Estragon/Vladimir: Well, shall we go?
Vladimir/Estragon: Yes, let's go.
They do not move."
Samuel Beckett, Waiting for Godot

On the 13th of April 2006, Samuel Beckett, playwright, author and poet, would have turned one hundred years old. On the same day, Ricky Ponting brought a hundred and forty million Bangladeshis to their knees, as Australia managed to scramble past victory in the first Test at Fatullah. Beckett and cricket have more in common than one could imagine.

Samuel Beckett's work has been described as stark, pessimistic and wickedly funny. His portrayal of life's obstacles, serves to demonstrate that the journey, while difficult, is ultimately worth the effort. Beckett a Nobel prize winner, his best known play "Waiting for Godot" and Australia's tour of Bangladesh, all share an absurd commonality. Beckett is the only cricketer to have won the Nobel Prize (Literature in 1969) and therefore will forever be best remembered as that cricket trivia question no one could answer. A left handed opening batsman and an occasional left arm medium pacer, his fame eventually came not from his self proclaimed "gritty defense" but from his cryptic and attenuated style of writing.

The play "Waiting for Godot" is subtitled a Tragicomedy in Two Acts - what better way to describe the two Tests played between Australia and Bangladesh! The first Test was tragic and the second was the comedy.

The plot concerns Vladimir (also called Didi) and Estragon (also called Gogo), who arrive at a pre-specified roadside location in order to await the arrival of someone named Godot. Two other people Pozzo and his servant Lucky arrive. Lucky entertains the men for a while and after Pozzo and Lucky leave a boy comes with a message supposedly from Godot, which states that Godot will not come today, "but surely to-morrow". Waiting for Godot was Beckett's magnum opus. One hundred years after his birth, we are still waiting for Godot, and in many ways Bangladesh as a cricketing nation, similarly, awaits its destiny. Our cricketing hopes and aspirations rest on a needle head.

For ages they have been just around the corner from "decency", that may I add, is a thought just as absurdist as the play itself. This theory of decency as a cricketing nation stems from the occasional victory here and there. My detractors may point to the history books, we have beaten India, Pakistan, Zimbabwe and mighty Australia, but what do we have to show for all those victories? Mohammed Ashraful may have won the game for us against Australia in Cardiff last year, but we often forget the ball after he reached his century, he got out. If we had lost that game, his hundred would have come and gone, it would have been another wasted opportunity. His indiscretion did not have cost us the match, but it could have. Like touching up a painting we often repaint over the cracks. We may be left with one great masterpiece but beneath the paint, the cracks were never removed, just merely forgotten.

From the recently concluded tour by Australia everyone seems to have taken a lot of positives out of it. But in the end just like the repetitive plot of "Waiting for Godot", we are left with the same results. Five played five lost, we may have come mighty close in the first test match, but that is as far as we have ever come.

Vivian Mercier once famously wrote of "Waiting for Godot" "he has written a play in which nothing happens, twice." That seems to best sum up what the Australian tour was for us, nothing happened, five times. The intentionally uneventful and repetitive plot of "Waiting for Godot" is said to symbolise the tedium and meaninglessness of human life. While the tour was anything but uneventful, the repetitive nature of the results helped only to pile more misery on our shoulders.

Cricket is full of "nearly" men; I believe we have become "nearly and at times almost barely" men. We must not stagnate or we will forever be standing on that road waiting for Godot. The time has come to go looking for him.


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