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     Volume 9 Issue 45| November 26, 2010 |

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Nothing Like it


A rare photo shoot of former and current stars of cricket. Photo: STAR FILE

Nothing could have been better than the way the former national cricketers, from all generations, got together to celebrate Bangladesh's first decade in Test cricket on a charming Friday night (November 12) at the small Dhanmondi Cricket Academy ground. The unique initiative came from a few former captains, who had recently retired from international cricket, when the authorities concerned (the Bangladesh Cricket Board) simply forgot the memorable day: Bangladesh's 10th year anniversary of Test cricket. What's wrong then if they say: Who loves the game more than the players? Yes, out of love Alamgir Kabir, the pace bowler, forgot all difficulties to join the party on a day's notice from Chapainawabganj. Alamgir was not alone, as many other cricketers from across the country also didn't want to miss the opportunity to share some moments with cricketers of all ages in one gathering.

“I took part in many programmes in my career but I must say this was very special. I can't explain what a feeling it was to share some time in such company,” said an excited Mashrafe Bin Mortaza.

The jubilant former and current cricketers led by Shamim Kabir, first captain of an independent Bangladesh, cut a cake to commemorate the occasion.

Apart from the excellent food, there were even some fireworks in the function. But what charmed the audience most were the speeches from the stalwarts of different ages that pinpointed the link of the country's cricket since independence. The brief but significant addresses from Roquibul Hasan, Jahangir Shah Badshah, Shafiqul Haque Heera, Akram Khan, Habibul Bashar, Khaled Mashud, Khaled Mahmud and Mushfiqur Rahim once again re-established the truth that nothing was achieved overnight rather the baton has been carried by many to take the game into these days.

Celebrating 10 years of Test status. photo: STAR FILE

The players certainly enjoyed fair banter among the ex-players with one former national cricketer coming out and relating the story of the four Khalifas of the Bangladesh team during the 1980s (in those days, four players were deemed to be the most important in every sense of the word and hence, the clever nickname).

From Shamim Kabir to today's Mushfiqur Rahim, everyone had a story to tell and everyone had phone numbers to exchange.

Undoubtedly it was the biggest moment in the history of Bangladesh cricket when Naimur Rahman went out to toss with then India captain Sourav Ganguly on November 10, 2000 in the inaugural Test match at the Bangabandhu National Stadium. And that's the reason it's important to look back to that day when we have passed ten years in Test cricket.

We might not have achieved much as per our expectation at the highest level of the game but still we have had something to cheer about. Not only three victories (one against Zimbabwe and two against the depleted West Indies) but there were also some great moments during that time even in defeats. It's impossible for any ardent follower of the game to forget the heartbreaking result in the Multan Test against Pakistan, a nail-biting battle against Australia at Fatullah and New Zealand at Chittagong. Some glorious individual achievements from players like Bashar, Mohammad Rafique, Mohammad Ashraful, Shakib Al Hasan and Tamim Iqbal also took Bangladesh cricket to new heights.

During the occasion, the one sentiment echoed was that we have to concentrate more on our first-class structure so that the Tigers can ascertain their strong footing in the longer-version.

“I think we achieved many things in the last ten years and our cricket has also improved. Just think that we have the world's number one all-rounder (Shakib) in our team. But we have to gallop now because other countries are also improving fast. We must improve our facilities; especially we need to improve our first-class cricket quickly,” said an optimistic Roquibul, the evergreen face of the country's cricket.

Akram Khan, the former skipper who has a remarkable role in the progress of the country's cricket, was delighted with the improvement the Bangladesh team has made in the last two years, as he said: “It's true that the outcome could be much better in ten years but I must say our improvement graph has been ascending in the last two years. The infrastructure has also developed but still it's not enough for a Test-playing nation.”

The entrance into Test cricket had opened a real window for another former skipper, Habibul Bashar, to excel in the game and the successful batsman also believes that Bangladesh could not fulfill expectations in the longer-version because of poor first-class infrastructure in the country.

“Most of our players depend on club cricket because first-class cricket is not professionally viable for them. So, we must change this scenario by drastically improving the structure,” the soft-spoken former skipper suggested.

On the other hand, Khaled Mahmud pointed out a grim picture of Bangladesh cricket by saying that, “Definitely Bangladesh cricket has improved but you know, the team management has to work hard for a practice schedule because we don't have enough practice facilities in the country. We must improve the facilities all over the country otherwise we can't achieve our goal especially in the longer-version.”

The long-serving wicketkeeper batsman and former skipper Khaled Mashud, who was one of the planners to arrange the programme, has also the same sentiment.

“Everything would be possible if the right man was put in the right place,” said Mashud, almost as a perfect ending to the first decade of Test cricket and as a theme for the next ten perhaps.


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