The Cup of Glory
There are two teams preparing for the 2011 ICC Cricket World Cup in this country and one of them is being lazy. Luckily, it is not the cricket team
Bangladesh Cricket Team: On a roll. photo: AFP
Shakib Al Hasan and co are going about their business meticulously and thanks to the board's “World Cup vision”, they have all the right ingredients for the mega event. Since last August, the Tigers have been going through a long training camp which some thought was just for the New Zealand series but in reality, it was held to start with the building blocks.
While the Tigers are sweating it out in the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium's field of play, indoor facilities, nets and gym, in a few floors up the office block, the World Cup's Local Organising Committee (LOC) are taking it slow.
Some of those who had run previous events like the Mini World Cup in 1998 and the Under-19 World Cup in 2004 were giving warnings to those in charge now to ensure a smooth build-up and preparation. But so far, it has fallen on uninterested ears. The LOC officials are adequate, there is no doubt about that, but their actions have left a lot of questions to be answered.
The prime venue of the World Cup, the stadium at Mirpur, is still going through construction work. Although the stadium is now almost an all-seater, some of the larger shades are yet to be set in place. The six towers for the floodlights are up but as we saw last week, the test run itself turned into a major fiasco.
The Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) decided to host the third ODI of the Zimbabwe series a day-night game since four games in the Mirpur stadium will be day-nighters during the World Cup. It was the perfect idea but according to the last-minute culture of the land, it turned into a monumental dash on December 5.
The sight of stadium floodlights only focusing on the pitch, like it was a concert, was embarrassing for the cricket board, especially as it was less than 24 hours before an international game.
The match was swiftly turned into a day game but whatever happened with the setting up of the floodlights is anyone's guess. The blame game has just about started as I write this piece and over the next month or so, there could be a whole lot more.
Even before the floodlights incident, there was the 100 days countdown programme that made tongues wag. The venue was in front of the Jatiya Sangsad and the LOC invited former Indian captain Saurav Ganguly, forgetting to issue a lot of invitation cards to the few who had led out Bangladesh sides in the past. Someone like Habibul Bashar was seen standing near the stage since all the seats were taken up by people connected and related to those in charge of the programme.
Bangladesh's cricket coach Jamie Siddons (top L) speaks with players during a training session at The Sher-e Bangla National Stadium in Dhaka. Photo: AFP
The 20-minute affair was a PR disaster if there ever was one, with long speeches, an unprepared MC and a botched up countdown clock. It was funny yet sad, giving the world enough fuel to laugh at Bangladesh.
The fashion sense of Mashrafe Bin Mortaza was also called into question, the fast bowler wearing a lame t-shirt and jeans when called on stage, apparently without any prior notice. The organisers said Mashrafe knew about the programme, but the man himself claimed he was just invited, not told he would be on stage. Either way, his t-shirt was less than flattering. Some in the cricket board later claimed the whole programme was conducted with a run-sheet, a guide to these stage-managed events.
Some of the countdown clocks around the city, as reported and pictured in the media, stopped working and were full of errors. In fact, the size of it is embarrassingly small.
The condition of the Zahur Ahmed Chowdhury Stadium in Chittagong, too, reeks of idleness in the part of those in charge.
The vast length of the northern stands are still under construction and when the hosting of the Bangladesh-Zimbabwe match on Monday was put in doubt, they have managed to complete renovation work of the dressing rooms and the media centre, denying a lot of the fans from watching the match at the ground.
But thankfully, something else is going right, and in spectacular fashion. The national cricket team is going through some sort of a purple patch, the sort that is always welcome before the World Cup. In 2007, the Tigers won enough matches against Zimbabwe, Kenya and Scotland prior to the tournament to make winning a part of their thinking and it paid dividends.
This time too, against better opposition, the Tigers are winning. In October, they crushed New Zealand 4-0 without Mashrafe and Tamim Iqbal. Shakib played a stellar role, making match-winning contributions in all of the matches.
Now they are 2-1 up against Zimbabwe with two matches to go in Chittagong and with not much coming from Tamim's bat, fireworks are expected in his hometown.
But will there be fireworks from an organising point of view? We stand by.
Mohammad Isam is a cricket reporter.
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