Ready... Steady... Oh, Wait...
With less than 150 days to go till cricket's biggest event, everyone's waiting to see if the subcontinent can really pull it off. What with scandals in Pakistan, substandard conditions at the Commonwealth Games in India, and security concerns throughout the region, the World Cup comes at a time when cricket fans all over are looking to reaffirm their faith in the sport. Here's a run-down on what the cricket community's been up to:
Although there's a surprising lack of hype here in Bangladesh, (considering that it's the largest event we've ever hosted), other countries have been far more active. Work on two major stadiums in India has already been completed, with Sri Lankan venues in good shape as well. ICC, however, seems to be happy enough with Bangladesh's preparations, according to what President David Morgan had said earlier on. All arrangements are targeted to be completed by late November, with December being the final deadline. An ICC inspection team will be visiting all the venues from mid-November onwards. Bangladesh will be hosting a total of seven matches, including the first and third quarter-finals. The opening ceremony takes place right here in Dhaka, two days before the first match kicks off at the same venue.
Big names in cricket seem excited about the World Cup. Indian superstar MS Dhoni expects winning the Cup on home soil to be a major career highlight for him. Sri Lankan batsman Kumar Sangakkara says that winning the World Cup had been a childhood dream. But let's be realistic here. How much of their enthusiasm can the tournament really live up to? So far, Bangladesh seems yet to have woken up to the possibilities that the World Cup is trying to bring us. There's been a slight shuffle in the tourism sector, and a tourism fair has been held; but that's just about it.
There's also the question of security. Security advisors have been appointed in all three host countries, but nothing more has been heard about this crucially important issue. Bangladesh also ought to take a lesson from India and concentrate on its accommodation facilities. While our own players may feel just fine at home, our guests may not be that willing to adapt. Without trying to sound like a pessimist, there's simply so much to worry about- transport, security, accommodation, venues, electricity (or rather, the lack of it), traffic jams, and the list will go on...
An equally pressing issue to deal with is Bangladesh's performance in the tournament. Let's face it- cricket hasn't been good to us in a while. We've hardly won anything since that match with England, which was little more than a fluke, by the way. The Tigers are supposedly hard at work; but with injuries, frequent captaincy changes and of course, our famous knack for inconsistency, what the team is actually going to do when they're on the field is still a mystery. All in all, the World Cup looks to be one big disappointment for Bangladesh.
On a more positive note, there's still time. The 19th of February may be close, but not close enough for us to give up hope yet. We still have the chance to give the world some awesome cricket - deshi style - and keep them coming back for more. Here's hoping for an unforgettable World Cup!
This week, for the topic Bangladesh 50 Years From Now, we have a futuristic Bangladesh that doesn't have weird alien technology and District 9-ish ghetto residents. For next week, the topic is Five Awesome Superpowers and Why They Would Suck. For example, if you were invisible, you wouldn't be able to see either. The deadline for submission ends at midnight Saturday and all entries have to be within 600 words. Send your articles to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Fifty Years Older
The man's voice started to fade away once more. I spied out of the corner of my eyes, the vapour from the freshly made coffee snaking away from the hot mug. Hesitantly I wrapped my fingers around the mug and sipped at the much-awaited drink. It was the usual taste, as it had been for the past years. I knew the taste couldn't have changed much, so I wasn't the least bit surprised. A breeze fluttered in through the window causing my paper to fall on the ground.
The others gathered around me, the ones who were paying attention, rushed to help out the old man. I waved them away with the usual annoyed and irate face. A man of 72 looked quite helpless, that was an obvious fact, but my boat had survived the violent storms. Just like Bangladesh; it's been fifty years since we hit the gold mine, or in this case the bountiful of gas. With enough gas to operate for another decade Bangladesh had climbed the ladder to impossible limits. Exports values were so high, no one saw any end to the success that was about to hit the little country. All the changes began to take place at one smooth incessant flow. The consistency in the improvements made for a better Bangladesh; or so the media preached.
Flocks of migrants came flying in. Tons and tons, until soon enough, Bangladesh was a bee hive of opportunity and success. It was pivotal moment for the country that once had to fight for its own mother tongue. Some would call it a miracle.
Gone were the bad roads, the electricity problems, and the continuous once though irrefutable poverty. I was there to witness its rise to power. Along with all that negative tension, it took away other things too. I remember the golden days when teenagers and parents flocked the jam-packed streets, clad in traditional Bengali garments such as panjabis and sharis. Girls and boys alike would run around in festive moods on open fields wearing vibrantly coloured clothes and beautiful smiles. Gone are the days, when the slight hint of rain would send the people in the streets, gathering the bits of their clothes in order to form make shift bags to carry the many mangoes that would soon litter the streets. No more were heard, nature's orchestra singing to wake the dead on the cold and dewy winter mornings.
Along with all the money and power, came the many different traditions of the numerous people of the world. A clash of emotions and cultures occurred, one so big that the original beauty of the motherland was forgotten, enveloped by that of ignorant and gullible beings that have lost sight of the inevitable beauty that was once this country.
The current country might be new and improved, but fifty years has been too cruel on the actual Bangladesh. All I hear nowadays are the people of a once brilliant country, talking, speaking, arguing, shouting in a horde of languages among which Bangla is never present. The flip side of the coin is just as charred, but with an uglier shade of black, or maybe I'm just an old man.
By Munawar Mobin
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