Minus-2, the Bad and the Good
While the nation was engrossed in the unfolding drama of 'Minus Two', (the play that was not performed, or some would say, abandoned at rehearsal) we were unable to give due attention to yet another important world stage where a simple Minus Two may not have only saved the country blushes but also brought us more laurels.
Suffice it so say the presence of so many captains at ZIA last Friday was apt acknowledgment of a team's glorious roars and convincing victories against media-hyped India and ever so short-of-gas South Africa. Team Bangladesh's improved performance in the Super-8 matches may have compelled higher-ranking officers to depart their bed in the wee hours to garland World Cup semi-finalists or (who knows) more.
We lost a berth in the last four as soon as the campaign started because of pedestrian thinking by captain, coach and the selectors. No winning team almost never (unless injury requires so) changes a winning combination, especially not with proven failures in matches day before yesterday. Against England, the spirit was made to be absent by the team management's bizarre team selection.
Now that the 'hevvy' performing squad, including (unfortunately for the nation) the failed skipper, is being protracted with the argument that a team that has performed so well should not be dismantled, the think tank's empty vessel is sounding only that much more. Who is then guilty of changing the team that battered South Africa?
Against Ireland (oh how the four-year old Canadian wind was still blowing) we lost because of poor captaincy. Fielders were set so deep that one wonders whether the Irish were capable of hitting that far. In the end the islanders managed six runs an over by running between the wickets, rather comfortably for that matter.
The fact that Ireland beat Pakistan earlier made an unnecessary heavy dent in the psyche of our players, and is the cause of our ire. Arrey Bhai! We beat Smith and Dravid and their respective companies. That is where the captain and the coach failed: to understand that the team had butterflies in the stomach and that no bowler could bowl to a defensive field on that wicket. Why a defensive field against an ICC Associate Member? Why on earth! Strangely enough, there was no visible signal (at least not on TV and they don't miss much of any of the action) from the dressing room to at least stop and ponder about the mounting score of the opponents.
In our match against West Indies we again included the captain (yes! he can be dropped in the middle of a series) and he did what he had been doing for the entire tournament. He failed to lead from the front. His performance and leadership have both been dismal throughout the cup and that told heavily on the morale of the team in the matches that we lost but could have won (e.g. England) and the one we should have not lost against, Ireland. He should have opted out, as should have his vice captain, because they knew best the reasons for the sustained shortcomings.
Had we won the three matches, who else but us would have played the semi-finals? Anyone would agree that between option 1 (playing a captain and his deputy and losing) and option 2 (dropping them and winning), the latter is the only option. Just like our politicians, our cricketers too forgot that a desh is always bigger than any individual.
Another problem is that our coach seems better at dreaming on billboards, lying down on some lush green lawn. He should have dreamt of a semi-final slot, for it was a beckoning. He seemed to have become extremely nervous after we reached the last eight, albeit after a not-so-decisive win against Bermuda because perhaps he had no idea that we have improved that much. His mutterings at press queries on return to Dhaka speaks clearly about his objectionable attitude. He must remember that we pay him very handsomely. If he assumes that he deserves that sort of a pay, he must understand we expect gentlemanly responsibility, that is, to respond to the right of a nation to know, especially from an employee.
The infamous Minus-2 theory is not practicable in our national politics, nor should it be the agenda of a caretaker government as their later actions amply demonstrated. But in cricket in the West Indies, excluding two could have done wonders to our national esteem. Now we mentioned the coach, the captain and the vice-captain. I am democratic enough to let you decide which two. Or you could evolve a new theory: Minus-3.
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