Just a few days before our 45th Independence Day, the nation went into a great shock after losing to India by only one run in the T20 version of the game of cricket.
I know, in Australia, when the Australian team plays against England or New Zealand, with any version of the game, the streets become almost deserted.
Why? All the three teams have been fierce rivals for a long, long time.
Some say that if these countries had had common borders, by this time, there would have been war over cricket.
I have seen in Dhaka, during the three matches Bangladesh played against Pakistan, Australia, and India, suddenly, Dhaka city stops.
There is no traffic jam; only a few empty rickshaws can be seen.
The hundreds and thousands of villages of this nation of more than 160 million do not go dark early, because the villagers become glued to the TV sets, irrespective of age and gender.
Bangladesh cricket, indeed, has changed the psyche of the nation.
Imagine, if one could not see it, one would not realise how sports, particularly cricket, has changed everything, from top to bottom, from the prime minster to a farmer, a garments worker, and millions more.
Surprisingly, after so many unsuccessful attempts in the world cricket arena by the team, unlike India and Pakistan, players never faced any unwarranted behaviour from the fans.
Why? The fans know well that the team has been improving at a very fast pace.
However, it strikes me, after watching the three recent matches against Pakistan, Australia, and India, that the batting order of the Bangladesh team has raised a few eyebrows.
Mahmudullah’s place in the T20 version seems to be creating controversy amongst the national and international media. Everyone knows Mahmudullah is cool as a cucumber. As a batsman, he keeps going on despite all sorts of uncertainties in the game.
But, he certainly lacks the skill to convert the closer matches, which players like Steve Waugh, Ricky Ponting, and Chris Gayle did not.
The fans have been getting annoyed at seeing him coming to bat at six or even seven down.
Unfortunately, it seems, he just cannot convert. The right person to talk to for a solution perhaps is the team psychologist, and not the media men or the international commentators.
After the match against Australia in Bengaluru, our media at home, in quoting the international commentators, grilled Mashrafe as to why he was indifferent in the game, particularly when he bowled only one over against Australia and had no chance to bat because of the batting order.
According to them, a captain has to put 100% in the game.
Indeed, that’s what Mashrafe has done in the game against India.
It looked like he listened to the media and he bowled all four overs and came to bat well ahead of the order.
The fans ask: Why was Mahmudullah not sent instead?
It looks like Mahmudullah’s potential was underused in the match against India and other matches. Such a world-class player needs extra care.
What made Mahmudullah hit a full toss ball into the sky instead of along the ground, which he has done thousands of times in his career, in domestic and international matches?
I am convinced the answer will be available to the coach and the psychologist of the team. Why psychologist?
Because he or she knows how devastating it is for the players and fans to lose a very close match by only one or two runs.
Mashrafe, as captain, is very successful. It would be wise to keep a successful captain at an arm’s length from the media. The game against India made the boys proud.
The whole world now knows that the Bangladesh team has come a long way with the support of its experienced and promising players and not because of commentators and the media.
Nowadays, almost all commentators are former cricket players. It does not mean that they are correct all the time. Three cheers to our boys!