Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home | Thursday, February 24, 2011

The Soul Resonance

By Jawad

Bangladesh versus Kenya, Final Match, ICC Trophy 1997, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
As Hashibul Hussein Shanto got his pad on the ball to send it towards the leg side and took the final run, it wasn't only the players, nor the supporters present in the stadium who erupted in a thunderous roar. The voice of Chowdhuri Jafarullah Sharafat declaring the victory was drowned by the earth-splattering (splatter's the word) cheer from everywhere in Bangladesh. It was the first big thing (and probably the most important one) to happen for Bangladeshi cricket even though we had already qualified for the World Cup the previous match and the final was more for pride. The world lost quite a bit of its paint-stock that day as the whole nation partied hard. And many people got hoarse voices.

Bangladesh versus Pakistan, Group stage, World Cup 1999, Northamptonshire, England
The wicketkeeper Khaled Mashud made a mess of the stumps and appealed to the umpire for a run-out. He barely signalled for the third umpire, when the enormous crowd in the stadium invaded the pitch to get a touch of their heroes in green and maybe to carry them around on their shoulders in gratitude. The people biting their fingernails in front of the television back at home got just as crazy in euphoria and got out of their houses beating drums, kettles, aluminium plates and pots and anything that make noise. The whole country yelled in unison. They danced; they splashed each other with paint and threw treats and congratulations to complete strangers as if they themselves had been on the field.

Bangladesh versus Canada, Group Stage, World Cup 2003, Johannesburg, South Africa
It was Eid-ul-Fitr the following day. The whole country was eagerly anticipating a Bangladesh win and a boosted Eid when they turned their television sets on. But the boys disappointed them. Things were looking bleaker with every delivery. And in the end our worst fear came true and Bangladesh lost the match. Since the independence, there have been only a handful of Eids as dejected as this one. Yours truly had unusual trouble gulping down delicious foods and many others forfeited their right to salami. We lost faith in our cricket team, who had made the record of the longest losing streak (of 5 years).

World Cup 2007, West Indies
It was altogether a highly successful outing for the beloved cricket team of Bangladesh. They thrashed the cricketing powerhouses India and South Africa fuelled by the young bloods of the team in Tamim, Shakib, Mushfiq, Ashraful, Razzak and the evergreen Rafique. A country poked in the ribs with violence, murder, fundamentalism, economic crisis, social insecurity, corruption and many other problems roared as Tamim charged down the track and put Zaheer on the second tier of the Queen's Park Oval. The entire population was one. Cricket was our salvation.

We laugh as one, we cry as one
There have been very few occasions in the history of independent Bangladesh that linked the whole nation together with the same emotion. We passed the past forty years of liberation in various socio-political (and economic) turmoil. We have had floods and other natural disasters almost every year. We were the most corrupt country in the world for six consecutive years. There are so many negatives one can point out.

And we have our cricket.
Anyone in their sane mind would call for cops if a random stranger picks up a random child on the street and plays whoops-a-daisy with him; or splatters paint on passers-by and cars and basically anything within range. A good beating is a fairly good possibility too. But sometimes situations are different. There are times when your grumpy father abandons all his postures and shouts “Bangladesh! Bangladesh!” like crazy while beating a frying pan with tablespoons. There are times when you happily forgive strangers on the road for transforming your brand new, sparkling white car/shirt into a pink one. You might even join in on the fun. Other times, you wouldn't even think of talking to that messed-up looking guy on the street, much less say “Shabash”.

The way we get so ruffled up when Bangladesh is in a tight situation! With our hands clasped tight, we beg silently to the Almighty that the annoying batsman gets out, or Shakib hits a six. And we have some total stranger comforting us in defeat or congratulating in victory.

And we cry, get angry and hostile at our defeats. Bangladesh has always been a 'team for the future'. A very stable and performing batting order, in-form pacers and consistent fielding still elude us. We are still the weakest test-playing nation among the 10. Our victories against much stronger opponents are rare. We accept that. But sometimes our hearts just break. Zimbabwe and Ireland are by no means stronger cricketing nations than us. But accidents do happen. Remember the match against Zimbabwe when Brendon Taylor snatched the match away from us with the last ball six. Remember the Multan test, where our dreams were snared by Inzamam-ul-Huq. Remember, every occasion Ireland beat us. Remember, the agony in our hearts. Make no mistake; you are not the only one. The whole nation suffers with you.

We love cricket
It was a hot and humid day in November. There was a terrible traffic jam and the vehicles were almost printing their wheel marks on the road. The final match of the series between Bangladesh and New Zealand was in full flow and neared the breath-taking finish. This reporter was on a bus at that time. Every Kyle Mills boundary was treated with obscenities. Every run saved was applauded. Everyone was praying for the Bangladeshi win. We cursed and sighed collectively. We cheered and thumped each other on the back at the fall of the final wicket.

There were 60 odd people in the bus, and you can safely classify them in groups according to their socio-economic status, political views and religion. Heck, some of them would even fight in a different situation. But for those moments we were all fans of cricket. The love of cricket brought us together. Not only were the passengers of the bus, but also the whole nation connected by this thread.

Go Bangladesh, Go!
The biggest event is here. Things are looking quite bright for us this time around. We have quite a lot of performers, a balanced team and we have the home advantage. If the cricketers can apply themselves to their acme, we might even startle the world again. But, no matter what happens, we will always be supporting our team.
Go Bangladesh, go.



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