Wednesday, June 19, 2024


Dhaka Tribune


The singer, not the song

Forget the figures and replay in the mind the magnificence of the delectable punches through the covers, straight drives and swivelled pulls

Update : 07 Jul 2023, 08:18 PM

Tamim Iqbal had no fanfare prior to exploding onto the international cricket scene, pummeling Zahir Khan and company as Bangladesh beat India at the 2007 World Cup. Since then, the then seventeen-year-old has battled all the rigmaroles of the top-class game amassing statistics for fans and pundits to chortle over and regurgitate. His decision to opt out of the circus of the T20 version should have come as a premonition, except there were too few to look beyond the torment the man was going through.

Cricket, as with any sport, takes a toll on the body. Think of Sachin Tendulkar reinventing his game by reducing dependence on the pull to protect a gammy back. Or Imran Khan bowing to age by reducing pace and working on guile. True sportspersons know when it's time to go. As Niranjan Shah, former Secretary of the BCCI, once said "Sachin will decide when it's time".

Those who are quizzical about their inability to take criticism forget the confidence he exuded in becoming captain of the one-day side. He talked more of the future, including his replacement simply asking for time to test those putting their hands up.

As with most, consistency was inevitably bedevilled by the laws of nature of temporary loss of form when timing and focus inexplicably refused to coordinate. That's when the third element, counselling and coaching takes centre stage. Form is temporary; class is permanent. He climbed his way out of the abyss, but the signs of decay were beginning to show. In particular the nibbles outside the off-stump. His efforts to cover that up with changes to the stance provided limited respite, only for the rear foot to begin dragging. Mentally, the no-call-up for franchise cricket abroad may have had an impact. More important were a string of injuries and admitted family issues. The back problem was obviously the final straw. Sunil Gavaskar was candid in conversation with this scribe when he said "the legs just couldn't take any more" in commenting on his retirement. Tamim may have his personal views.

There are those criticising the timing of his decision—during a series and with the Asia Cup and World Cups around the corner. To those, one would have to say, it's his mind, his body and his priorities. Rather, focus on his trials and tribulations. Managing the atlas-Ian weight of expectations in combating playing conditions that were adversely different, adjusting my to pitches and bowling that even practice machines can't replicate, and frankly, dressing-room encounters of a different kind. Add to that a poorly prepared media confrontation, and one has anything but a dish to relish.

Once he has had a chance to rest and recuperate, Tamim's value in ironing out the creases and bridging the crevasses of our cricket administration shouldn't be overlooked. He has been there; he has done it. That's not what most can say.

He may not have had a swan song. It's not for all and wasn't needed for a singer of his mettle. Forget the figures and replay in your mind the magnificence of the delectable punches through the covers, straight drives, and swivelled pulls. Those are the indelible and marvellous visions of a true-blooded southpaw.

Mahmudur Rahman is a writer, columnist, broadcaster, and communications specialist.

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