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Ducking and diving

  • Published at 06:31 pm September 24th, 2018
Cricket
Erratic and emotional? AFP

A win is a win, but surely we could’ve done better

When I began writing this piece, Bangladesh were 87 for 5 against Afghanistan, a cricketing side which has not only not received Test status, but is fledgling at best. 

This situation brought forth disappointment: Again, not at the Bangladesh men’s cricket team, but at myself, for I was neither surprised nor frustrated at the turn of events, and saw this as an eventuality, as habitual of a cricketing side that continues to be erratic and emotional in its play. 

We saw this in the first match against Afghanistan, where they were bowled out for a pathetic 119, completely flabbergasted by the 20-year-old (ahem) Rashid Khan’s leg spin. And we saw this, to even more frustrating obviousness, against a Kohli-less Indian side, where they barely scraped through to a measly score of 173, thanks to a reputation-saving knock by Mehidy Hasan Miraz. 

One of the defenses which makes the rounds (though I don’t know if the recent matches will merit any more apologies and excuses even from the most hardcore defenders of our “fledgling” team which has, despite all odds, emerged “from the ashes of independence”) is just that: Considering the history of the nation and the team, and the corrupt practices which run rampant, and the incompetent county cricket, the team does much more than can be expected. 

To a great extent, I do continue to believe that power of contextualization: It can explain any outcome, any result, and ignoring it can villainize the most heroic success stories. But to move forward, there can be no more contextualization, I believe, and we must leave the past behind us. 

A sports team in many ways can be a microcosm for the nation itself. How much longer will you let glories of the past (independence, home series wins against certain big dogs) overshadow the continual series of poor decisions being made by the cricketing side? 

And even if we could excuse the immaturity of some of the younger teams, what has continued to disappoint are the poor decisions being made by the senior players of the team, from Shakib to Mushfiq to Mashrafe, who have let their emotions and inanity rule their play, instead of taking stock of the situation and playing accordingly.

What else explains Shakib and Mushfiq’s dismissal in the match against India, where immediately after scoring a couple of boundaries, Dhoni’s captaincy predicted their need to keep scoring, despite having quite reasonably met the required run rate for a particular over? 

It is the curse of the Bengali, some say. It is our emotional intensity which gave birth to the nation, and now that the nation has been born (it’s not that young anymore, it has reached adulthood), this emotional intensity will no longer cut it. It is now an adult, with the responsibility to make the right decisions, and leave childish fantasies behind. 

When a team is not chasing, and it is not even the 10th over yet, and you’ve lost two wickets (the opening order is nothing short of a joke, who’s going to cure that?), there is no reason to swing the bat for boundaries: Take your time, relax, rotate the strike, take the singles, if there’s a loose ball, orthodox shots to the boundary, leave the ball outside of the stumps if it’s spinning or swinging too much. 

That is, at the end of the day, what continues to frustrate the average Bangladeshi cricket fan (which I am, no expert, so everything must be taken with a grain of salt). It is not that we were outplayed (which is acceptable), it is that we, through decisions not worthy of players with more than a decade of experience in the field, let ourselves down. 

One could make comparisons with the very poorly performing Sri Lankan side, but if I ever become a Sri Lankan citizen (and have a history of at one point being one of the strongest cricketing sides who has won the World Cup before), I’ll run an analysis and critique of that.

Until then, my pleas are aimed at the current Bangladeshi side. Please, use your head, not your heart. 

PS Bangladesh has gone on to win against Afghanistan, winning by 3 runs. A win is a win. But surely, we could’ve -- no, should’ve -- done better?

SN Rasul is an Editorial Assistant at the Dhaka Tribune. Follow him @snrasul.