No mockery with our passion, please
There is cause today for referring to an oft told story. A worldwide wrestling contest for cats was held in the United States. And, would you believe it, the winner was from Bangladesh. Everyone was simply astonished. How could a cat from a developing country like Bangladesh defeat strong contestants from the richest countries of the world? In interviews, the winner was confronted with only question: how? The champion was modest. His frank admission, 'Actually, you see, I am a tiger, but being malnourished I could qualify for this competition for cats'.
Given the charitable nature of our selectors, many of us would like to be considered for the Bangladesh team. We are confident that if any of us were given chance in twenty to thirty ODIs, one fine day we shall score a half-century. By now, we all know that every now and then our cricketers can have a “good” day. We are that much talented. And if we are called to bowl, after fifty barren overs conceding three hundred runs, on any day the team is doing badly with the bat, we are sure to take a wicket or two. Moreover, we can also dance for thirty seconds with both our arms and no footwork, each rare time we dismiss a batsman.
Talent is a burden if it cannot be translated into performance. But that should be behind us now. Having scored the second highest in the Bangladesh innings and double figures too, it may be difficult for even a “fool” to drop a talent of such consistent failures.
If there was anything worse than our lowest-ever score, it was the post-match press briefing by our captain. There was arrogance instead of remorse, there was humiliation for the people instead of sympathy, and there were vain hopes of going to the quarterfinals instead of squaring up to the present reality. In a game of cricket, anything can happen, possibly worse or even a semi-final berth, and as a mature cricketing country we are prepared to accept and expect either, but a national captain should speak with responsibility after a heavy and stinging defeat. He was not talking to his friends in his living room; he was speaking to a shell-shocked nation in front of the world.
We do not know what hit us. It was our home ground, our own crowd, our toss... We have a lot of thinking to do. The team will have to dig deep and come out with the findings. You deserve to know what happened and what we plan to do in the future. Your loyal support and expectation enjoins a greater obligation on our shoulder. We are sorry to have let you down so badly in such a big tournament. Please give us some time. We need your prayers.
Something in that line should have been the captain's post-debacle speech. After such a big letdown crores of frenzied fans expect, even if for cursory comfort, that heads should roll; instead we saw a shameless tail wagging.
A captain who can snub a well-meaning journalist at a press conference may have learnt his cricket but not his captaincy. This happened after the win against Ireland. Asked why the Bangladesh batting line-up could not do better than the low score they achieved, the captain said: “Because we wanted to get out. Because we felt it would be good for the team if we got out, and because we heard the lunch was good and we wanted to have a bite.” (DS Sport 6 March 2011)
Let no one do tamasha with the emotions of the people. The fall from hero to zero is one straight line. The fall is not pain proof.
No one is saying that we cannot have a poor outing. It is however not easy to understand how a team full of coaches, physios and psychos, ball boys and bag boys, managers and assistants could not have one positive piece of effective advice for our batsmen during those menacing eighteen some Windies overs. Their goings and comings looked like the TV highlights of a match.
Indeed we shall bounce back. We have been a nation of fighters for centuries. We shall stumble, but crouched forever we shall never be. Yes, indeed we shall have many glorious days of cricket. And we shall also then write differently for the deserving greats. Our only expectation is that our players take their successes in modesty and their failures as lessons of anything but defiance. Cricket in Bangladesh is no more only a game. It is the passion of a nation.
Cricket too is run by taxpayers' money. We are giving our cricketers the best that this poor country can offer, and that is a lot. In return we do not expect a century in every match, but a hundred good tries. Nor do we expect a hat trick in every game, but a truckload of dedication.