History was made, and some crucial elements were the reason
On February 9, Bangladesh won the U-19 Cricket World Cup for the first time. In an incredible final with India, the junior Tigers triumphed.
“This is a stepping stone for our future cricket,” said Bangladesh skipper Akbar Ali. Of course, the victory on February 9, Sunday at Senwes Park, Potchefstroom will remain a significant moment for Bangladesh cricket forever.
For some, it is an epic victory, for others it is a mystery. Inevitably, cricket is the only game in Bangladesh that brings all the citizens together, irrespective of gender, age, race, and religion.
When this game brings about an ICC World Cup trophy for the first time ever, it turns out to be the best gift for the whole nation. The people of Bangladesh are still absorbed in celebrating the golden moment of their cricket.
Captivating captain, Akbar Ali, was unquestionably the guiding force for this spectacular win, with not only his unbeaten 43 but also very tactful captaincy. Prior to batting, the way he conducted the team and utilized the bowling unit, and set up the fielders in field was unbelievable. We would not probably get the historic win if Akbar Ali did not captain well and did not continue to bat on till the end.
Imagine the time when Akbar Ali was guiding pacer Shoriful Islam to maintain a particular channel against Yashasvi Jaiswal in the 40th over, resulting in two quick wickets and putting India into further trouble. That helped a great deal to restrict India to a low total. It is to be noted, in spite of entering the field when Bangladesh had lost four early wickets for 65 runs, the captain led the team and ensured his team were champions instead of falling apart.
Another remarkable thing is the way Bangladesh played as a whole. Undeniably, this crown has not been achieved as a result of any individual performance; rather it was a holistic effort. Although the junior tigers did not individually outperform other players from different teams, they made a consistent and combined effort to achieve the glory. If you look at the performances, you will see every player stepped up whenever the situation demanded.
Moreover, can anyone dare to forget the contribution of the magician behind Bangladesh’s terrific triumph, Richard Stonier -- strength and conditioning coach of the team? He was on board to add the final gloss to a well-oiled squad. From arranging interesting drills to prepping the team between innings, Stonier built enthusiasm and passion amongst the boys.
Even though he is officially the strength and conditioning coach of Bangladesh, he played a galaxy of roles to bring the trophy to his team. He served as an assistant coach, mentor, and motivator. He also took the fitness level of the boys to a different level. He has been superbly amicable with all the players and they love him a lot. The BCB president himself said: “Stonier himself played half of the game for the boys.”
What also stands out in Bangladesh’s historic triumph was their exceptional work in the lead up to the World Cup. Credit goes to BCB that took a range of productive initiatives in order to train the boys. The final match showed that Bangladesh were not pushovers anymore. They had planned for two years and the exceptional camaraderie within the players and the immaculate nature of their preparation stood out in the win.
Making a myriad of overseas tours aiming to get used to foreign conditions was key to this success. The focus was on building team strength and creating a good rapport within the squad, as much as helping the young stars find their feet in foreign conditions.
“We have been together as a group for 15 months now to focus on this World Cup, so whenever we were in Bangladesh, we stayed together. Traveling to England and then the Asia Cup, the bonding has been amazing. Everyone understands each other’s personality inside out -- when to have fun, when to give a person his space,” said Akbar Ali.
As it stands it now, a lot of hard work, the coaching staff, constant support from the millions of cricket-loving people in the country, and the effective decisions of BCB have determined this success.
Let’s be optimistic and keep supporting them, something more exciting is perhaps yet to come.
Mahde Hassan in an Invigilator at the British Council Bangladesh.