If we could only look instead of gawking, we would see horror in the heart of farce. (Henri Toulose-Lautrec)
Against stupidity the gods battle in vain. (Schopenhauer)
The paying public for the just concluded ODI series may be hard pressed to choose the option of their choice in determining how exactly the home team acquitted itself the last week.
It is said cricket is a game of chance because it begins with a toss. By this logic, South Africa stood less to gain since they were at the receiving end of the coin falling always in favour of the Bangladesh captain, who bless his soul did at least one thing right by calling correctly thrice in a row. But alas, the rest was not history, so to say.
The inherent farcical story began the moment Bangladesh chose to bat each time in the three ODI's. Such was the sheer magnitude of the ineptness and incompetence displayed by the Tigers that the rest of the country rivetted to the on going antics on the field, were shell shocked by the sheer horror of it all. Not once did the home team come even remotely close to getting two hundred runs on the board. Although, the captain and the team management spared no pains in informing anybody and everybody within earshot or to those who cared to listen anyway, that even 230 runs on the board would just about suffice to put the fear of god into the side batting second. This assertion was somewhat tempered by the time the second and third ODI came around, to how comfortable we were likely to be in the driver's seat if we just batted all of the 50 overs we were entitled to.
The fact that in the end we could achieve neither only reinforced the belief that we are still struggling to perfect the art of chewing gum and crossing the street at the same time. Collective hara-kiri was given a new meaning as each batsman to a man devised newer and more ingenious methods of gifting wickets to the South African bowlers. Here is a group of returning tourists who are now firmly convinced Christmas in this part of the world comes twice a year. Here was oriental hospitality gone haywire for sure.
While the accusing fingers were justifiably pointed at the batsmen, their bowling compatriots were not above reproach either. Of the 30 wickets on offer the bowling armada managed a princely catch of just 7 in the three matches.
Our usually high degree of national naivete notwithstanding, in the sense that we will either look for the non existent needle in the haystack or simply look the other way even when the most obvious of reasons punches us squarely in the jaw, the time has surely come when we need to ask some hard questions.
For a start, how much of a price are we attaching to the Bangladesh cap? Has it devalued itself to a level that it can now be handed over willy-nilly to every Tom, Dick and Abdul who can tell one end of a cricket bat from another? Otherwise, how else does one explain the shenanigans of the succession of young batsmen finding themselves in the national team and not having a clue to what they are meant to do and why they are there in the first place. Bangladesh have been around in the international scene for quite sometime now with about 200 matches under their belt. Is it too much to expect that the team be atleast perceived to be playing cricket in the manner it should be played?
Let us not kid ourselves anymore, we are fast approaching the status of being considered the Clown Princes of the game. For too long we have allowed these individuals to enjoy their joyrides at the expense of national pride and cricketing credibility. It is time they are made familiar with a certain term that is called in cricket parlance, performance. The constant reminders that we are capable of being with the best because we have some time in the dim past actually beaten one or two of the big powers of the game are just that, a dim memory. Or to put it more bluntly, courtesy a Hungarian proverb; even a blind chicken can find a piece of grain sometime.
Cricket is a game where benefit of doubt used to be a concept of considerable significance at one time. Not anymore. Bangladeshis by nature have always been considered to be a mercurial race, prone to be volatile at times even at the drop of a hat. Patience had never been our strong point. The fact that we have been so accommodating to our cricket team and all those connected with it over the years has been more an aberration than the norm. The so-called Tigers may not have any pride in whatever they may think they are doing. But, we do, and make no mistake our pride is wounded.