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Cricket and politics: nothing to lose

As I picked up the daily newspaper, I saw the headline, screaming the entrance of a new figure in the world of politics. It seemed like the turning point of our country's colourful and controversial political history. Changes are supposed to be good, I figured. A change was very much needed therefore I went along with the notion of the majority of the people in Bangladesh, and welcomed the decision with open arms. As I flipped towards the front page, once more I saw more new entries. This time it wasn't political, but rather it was the selection of more youngsters in the Bangladesh National Cricket team. Would these new comers change the face of Bangladesh cricket and guide us towards a more respectable ranking, I wondered.

A panel of judges would not be deciding this. In fact in both the cases depicted above, the result would only be decided by time. Given the current political turmoil and our form on the pitch, the similarity in both the cases is rather ironical. It seems that anyone who can increase foreign aids and support, even a well-loved monkey with an attitude can be welcomed in the already downtrodden and hated scene of politics. Similarly, a monkey with a bat who can knock a few balls is also whole-heartedly welcomed into our national team. With the current state, everyone asks, “What's to lose?” Over-looking the fact that our prestige, our economy and the revered World Cup is at stake, we can understand that we really have nothing else to lose.

Cricket fevers heats up with bat manufacturers going into overtime. Indian cricket bat craftsman, Shiv Kumar puts the finishing touches to a batch of bats.

When I heard that our own James had a chance to win the film fair award for best singer, I was thrilled. But then the horrible thought struck me. If James won, we would have another new entrant into the world of politics. He would never have his own party but he could be the Communications minister or something. Maybe the entertainment minister, if that position was available. Heck, if my 11 year old brother struck three 50's in a row, in an under-15 tournament, he would probably be packing his bags right now and heading for West Indies. As much as I like that idea, it would not be a happy day for Bangladesh Cricket.

The election process may never end and we may never have a proper team selection but that is no excuse for us to start whining. In the process of writing this article, I have been enlightened. What do we have to lose? Nothing important that's for sure. I mean how bad can our politics be? How much worse can we perform on the pitch? Here's an idea, Khaled Masud has already won the love and support of our country. Now brother, if cricket doesn't welcome you, grab a pen and paper. Then pour your heart out in the paper and send the open letter to your simple country folk. Who knows, maybe you will be our next president. Experience is not significant anymore. Look at me, here writing for Rising Stars with no experience at all. Young blood is the chant. There is nothing to lose in changing some of our mottos and some of our slogans. Whatever may happen, I wish good-luck to our aspirant politicians and wish all the best to our very own Tigers. Now empty your pockets for mega projects, build a mega stadium, vote your heart out, whether it counts or not and hope against hope that the tigers aren't tamed again. 1971 to 2007, de ja vu is in the air. Hands locked in prayers, knees kneeled, begging for a bright day and with our chest out and chin up, we really have nothing to lose…right?

By Osama Rahman

Let the show begin...

The build-up to this year's world cup must have gotten the fans and the fanatics drooling. While the lesser teams had their few hours of fame in the warm up matches, some of the big teams quite spectacularly faltered, making the real show all the more interesting. In football upsets can be in the context of an entire tournament (Greece, Euro 2004) but in cricket, they are usually confined to the results of one or two matches. So although the chance of seeing the trophy lifted by any of the last 8 teams is minimal, we can still expect a strong competition amongst the top 8.

Think about it; could there be any better time for Australia to be dethroned from their no.1 spot? The mighty Australians, once thought to be invincible, are now being whitewashed by the Kiwis. While South Africa clings on to peak of the rankings, their wobble in the warm up match against the Irish shows there are plenty of gaps in their batting department. India and Pakistan are inconsistent; to say the least, and their recent form and 'injury' worries have further weakened their bids to win this world cup. Sri Lanka, despite being in fairly good touch recently, are worried how much an impact their spinners will have on the flat batting wickets in the Caribbean.

Will West Indies be the blast from the past? You can never write off this tricky team who can really be the surprise element in any tournament, right till the very end. Plus, the home advantage could be a significant factor in the Caribbean, as most teams will feel the need to adjust and adjust quickly to the unfamiliar conditions.

This leaves us with the 'dramatic losers': New Zealand and England. The reason I call them dramatic losers is that these two teams are the immature big brothers in world cricket. They are rated highly, have a bunch of world-class players, but when it comes to big occasions, they almost always make a total mess out of it. The Kiwis, fresh from whitewashing Australia, nose-dived out of 'favourite' status in their first warm up. And worse still, they came up with stupid excuses after losing against Bangladesh. Skipper Fleming observed that if they had scored 250 runs, they could have won the match. (Arey beta when your scorecard reads 74/6, you are lucky you scored 200+ and lost only by two wickets.)

This brings us to the frequently asked question: Will Bangladesh proceed to the second round? I think at the moment it is more appropriate to ask Can Bangladesh proceed rather than if they will. I personally believe we have the potential to beat any team in the world right now, provided we play our own game well. If you are one of those who watch Bangladesh's matches regularly, you will see that more often than not, we are the ones responsible for our defeat. We either play ourselves into strong positions, and then give it away playing some rash shots, or start with the hara-kiri hitting and then consolidate at the end of the innings. There is not enough consistency throughout the batting order, and all departments rarely click on the same day.

In short, we tend to be our own opponents; our own antagonist. And often, the role of the real opponents becomes secondary.

Going back to the original point, I will not yet, make the stupid mistake of picking a favourite for the world cup, coz frankly I believe there isn't one. I guess it will all boil down to the point when one team will survive, even if it's not necessarily the best. And the luck factor will come handy as well. For now, let us stand behind our team, and urge them to stamp their mark on one of the greatest shows on earth.

By Tausif Salim

Critic's Picks
Top 7 music sites you oughtta know!

Itunes and iPod has managed to capture the elite hearts of Dhaka and so after consulting with some pod-gazers, I finally found out that iTunes is the best music 'thing' one could ever have! With songs uploaded every now and then, the Top 100 downloads section of iTunes 7, maybe be a bit pricy compared to 12-songs-for-100-taka-deal in Riffles Square, but considering the originality of sound and crystal clear remixes online, it is worth the buy! Moreover, for those of you who are all about freebies…worry not- ITune has radio stations with the most genres playing all day long! So grab a coffee, sit down and listen. For all you podcasters: www.apple.com/itunes download is needed for iTunes 7 (free for Windows and Mac)

Rhapsody.com Yup, unfortunately, I am putting this well-heard-of site to number two. Possibly because if you use the UNLIMITED MEMBERSHIP for 9.99 dollars a month, you can listen and download a hell load of songs in your PC, but you simply cannot transfer them to your iPod or Mp3! Well, the reason behind it is illegal distribution, you can burn the songs in CD after you have bought them for about $0.87 per track. So I suggest you stick with the old PC jukebox with unlimited membership plan. Its worth it- trust me! Unfortunately however, you can listen to the songs online only in the US!

Pandora.com I have one word for this- AWESOME! This site caught me by surprise! The site offers you contemporary popular and obscure artists from way back in the 60's wild era…to the near 90's! It lets you create your own radio station based on whichever artists/songs you search and you can listen to it whenever you want. Wild ain’t it? Maybe I should've put this in number two… oh well!

MYSPACE.COM- One thing I hate about My Space is that the site is slloooooowwww… Still, with more than 1.8 million bands offering their own homepages, it's impossible to ignore - it seems like every act you've ever heard of posts free songs here. Read about a band? Head to MySpace and you're basically guaranteed to get something for your time: a prerelease album preview, a new single, or even a raw demo. Weezer and Nine Inch Nails debuted their latest albums here. The latest songs get a slow preview. The songs are almost impossible to load with my 3kbps connection, but if you have got a higher bandwidth, then go ahead feed your ears.

Soul-sides.com Run by a vinyl obsessive in California named Oliver Wang, Soul-Sides posts free MP3s of ultra-rare funk and soul, often from his personal collection of dusty 7-inches. (We're talking really rare stuff. Heard of the Romano Mussolini Trio? Didn't think so.) A professor in his non-virtual life, Wang also likes to educate his readers, offering history lessons on obscurities sampled in modern hip-hop hits.

Archive.org the most detailed music site which has all the songs you ever wanted from way back in the 60's. The site isn't well-ornamented graphically, but it stores everything from pictures, new music, old-school hits, live concerts, over one lakh song recordings- all at a very fair usage of your time!

Fluxblog.com The guy of this blog has been posting songs each day from way backing 2002. So that makes him resident music-critic. You won't regret it if you see this one I promise. Download any songs that are posted. But remember the songs are offered for a limited time. So do buy the songs once you like them. Keep up the great song quality in the artists. You pay to listen to good songs and when pay for them, you will get back more than what you paid for, I promise. Meanwhile…listen to the song 'Downfall' by Trust Company. Till next week.

By Critico Nino


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