Bangladesh finished 8th among ten participants in the recently concluded Cricket World Cup (CWC) 2023. Of the 9 matches Bangladesh played could managing winning only against Afghanistan and Sri Lanka.
Team tigers lost miserably by wide margins against all other teams including ICC associate member qualifier Netherlands.
In pre-tournament assessments there were some optimisms among Bangladesh cricket admirers that Bangladesh may win 5-6 matches and had some possibilities for featuring even among top four. The ICC ODI Series leading to the World Cup had Bangladesh finishing among top three. Bangladesh also won at least three matches in the previous world cups in 2019 and 2015. But many analysts observed that Bangladesh was amongst the worst performing teams of CWC 2023. Why Bangladesh played so poorly? Why same players made same mistakes repeatedly? Why could the team not bounce back in not too alien conditions? Teams like Afghanistan rocked and shocked few favorites in the tournament and even created possibility of qualifying for the knockout round. Netherlands even beat a very strong South Africa and competed well against major opposition. But Bangladesh kept on performing poorly matches after matches. This write up will try to carry out soul searching.
Omission of Star Opener Tamim Iqbal Proved Counter Productive.
Everyone knows that success of Bangladesh in ODI cricket owes a lot to individual and combined performance of five world class performers – Mashrafee, Mushfique, Shakib, Tamim and Mahmudullah. Off them Mashrafee is no longer available for international cricket for a while and his commitments will politics as well as physical condition did not let him continue. However, he also did not announce official retirement. Tamim and Mushfique announced retirement from T20 format, Mahmudullah retired from Test Cricket in unusual manner after scoring his career best century against Zimbabwe on tour. He was subsequently replaced as captain in T20 Cricket and later was discarded from National Team for T20 Cricket. For reasons best known to Bangladesh cricket think tank Mahmudullah Raid was not included in ODI team in some bilateral series at home and abroad though Bangladesh kept on losing matches and series. He would not have included in the squad for the CWC 2023 world cup unless his fan followers and media pressed for it. All now knows he turned to be the saving grace for Bangladesh in the world cup responding bravely to injustice done to him.
However, Bangladesh made a blunder in creating situation for arguably the best batsman and the best opener of Bangladesh Tamim Iqbal to opt out from the squad. It is alleged that a covert syndicate of BCB conspired against the star opener taking advantage of his injury and somewhat indifferent form with the bat. Tamim successfully led the team in ICC ODI super league. The unhealthy environment created in the team forced Tamim announcing his emotional retirement in a very unusual situation during the tenure of a bilateral ODI series . We all know after hectic parleys and with the personal intervention Tamim withdrew his retirement and announced his availability for playing against New Zealand in the home series and later in international tournaments. He had his medical check up in London and rehaved successfully under the intensive care of BCB medical team. Ultimately, he returned in the series against New Zealand and looked in touch. But the evil syndicate continued their conspiracy. Tamim however played to their hand announcing that he will not lead the team. All knows about the series of events that led to Tamim omitted from the 15 men World Cup squad. The absence of Tamim and the way he was pruned from the squad struck deadly blow to the moral of the team. The top less squad suffered immensely in the top order batting. Tamim’s absence is among the major reasons for the abysmal performance of the team.
Poor Squad Selection and The Least Preparation for A Major Event.
Bangladesh was the last team announcing its squad. The think tank kept on making experiments in matches leading to the world cup and produced an unbalanced top less bottomless squad. The 15 men squad comprised off 5 pacers and two spinners. These 7 out of 15 did not have the required minimum skills of batting when required in a major tournament against quality opposition bowlers. The team also had some freshers like Tanzid Tamim and Towhid Hridoy having very little experience. When 9 players in a squad of 15 are like this a team can not expect performing differently in a global tournament. The star all rounder Shakib Al Hasan whom many blame as one of the syndicates creating unhealthy situation leading to Tamim’s exclusion proved shadow of his past. His own performance was his worst in all the world cup tournaments he played. Many blames that he lost focus from cricket, escaped training sessions and did not care for ideal preparation. He got injured during the tournament and even returned to Bangladesh leaving his charge in India for his so called own fine tuning. The shocked and awed situation in the team led to inconsistent performance among other players like Litton Das, Nazmul Hossein Shanto, Taohid Hridoy and Mushfiqur Rahim. Only stand out performer was Mahmudullah Riad. But he too was played at number 7 and even 8 though top and middle order regularly failed. Bangladesh could only once score above 300 in a tournament where 350 plus score became a regular affair. Bangladesh could hardly give opportunity to its bowling unit enough runs to defend. Off course Bangladesh bowling unit also could not prove their potential. Among other reasons many inconsistent way of selecting batting order also did not help Bangladesh to plan their batting. Openers and top order regularly failed. Shanto, Tawhid Hridoy could not regularly play in their position. Mehedy Miraj featured in positions from 1 -8. There are even allegations that some smart cookies might even done spot fixing in clandestine manner. All these above contributed to Bangladesh consistently failing to produce competitive scores or getting bundled out cheaply while chasing targets.
Team management Captain, coaching staff and Team Director must be blamed and asked to explain. BCB must also own responsibility. The Cricket Board of Sri Lanka was suspended and overhauled before ICC intervened. Pakistan changed and chopped PCB positions and team management. But till now BCB did nothing of that sort. As if Bangladesh performance was business as usual. We are not sure whether the ensuing general election is n impediment to Government not asking questions. But something needs to be done urgently. The entire cricket administration must come under through scrutiny. Accountability must be established. BCB executives are intellectually incompetent to rescue cricket from deep hole they created.
BDST: 1941 HRS, NOV 26, 2023