Team Bangladesh in the context of the experience of the key players, performance in the limited version cricket in the recent past (Asia Cup, Nidahas Trophy and Triangular ODI series in Ireland) were tagged as a dark horse of CWC 2019.
It was widely believed that Bangladesh would better their performance of CWC 2015 held in Australia and New Zealand. Bangladesh qualified for the quarter final playing positive cricket and knocked out strong England.
Many thought such an experienced team having five of their golden generation players –Mashrafe, Shakib, Tamim, Mushfiq and Mahmudullah and also some budding genius like Mustafiz, Soumya, Liton Das, Mehedy Miraj and Saifuddin would qualify for the semifinal.
With the flavor of CWC 2019 still flowing questions being asked did Bangladesh deliver? Could Bangladesh live upto the expectation of millions of adoring fans world over? Could Bangladesh play to their potential?
Bangladesh started with a bang offsetting the prospect of strong South Africa in their opening match. They also won against West Indies chasing over 300 runs. Bangladesh also blew away Afghanistan while teams like India and Pakistan struggled against them. They shared points in a rain ruined match with Sri Lanka. Bangladesh scored over 300 runs in the 8 matches they played. Bangladesh also went very close of winning matches against New Zealand and India. Star all rounder Shakib rocked and rolled CWC 2019 scoring over 600 runs and taking 11 wickets. Perhaps he could not be made the MOST VALUABLE PLAYER OF CWC 2019 losing in photo finish with New Zealand Captain Kane Williamson.
Shakib Al Hasan
This was the end of success story. Bangladesh finished 8th among 10 teams just above West Indies and Afghanistan. Team Bangladesh was automatic qualifier of the world cup being 7th in the ICC ODI ranking at the cut off date set for the tournament. West Indies and Afghanistan joined the 8 top ranked teams playing in the qualifying round.
Finishing at the bottom of the 8th team which automatically qualified can not be rated success in whatever other yardstick the performance is measured. Bangladesh fielded very poorly dropping catches of game changers at crucial moments. Players like Mashrafe, Tamim played well below their best. Mashrafe looked unfit in most matches and should have been replaced after two to three matches. A team could ill afford competing with top teams of the world without 11 fit players.
Otherwise prolific Tamim could not play any match-winning substantial score. Rather the early loss of his wicket in most matches created pressure on Bangladesh. Soumya did not look like a Bangladesh who could influence on the match with his batting. Mushfiq played some good innings but at the same time he was also not consistent.
Mohammad Mithun and Sabbir could not justify their inclusion in the team. We are not Mahmudullah was fully fit for the tournament. He was slotted too late in the batting order. The most successful Bangladesh batsman of CWC should have batted at 5 if not at 4 in the matches. His longer stay at the wicket could make a lot of difference. Mosaddek played well but off and on in the matches he could not deliver to full potential.
The only exception was super Shakib. He batted brilliantly in his new position at three. It was an out of the world performance as he scored over 600 runs in 8 matches in which included 2 centuries and 4 fifties. He also took 11 wickets including a five wicket haul against Afghanistan. He became the first player in the history of CWC scoring over 500 runs and taking 10 wickets or more in CWC. For his outstanding performance many thought he should have been the MOST VALUABLE PLAYER of the tournament .But missed only just.
In bowling Mashrafe failed to deliver and Bangladesh looked pretty ordinary team in the first power play failing to earn breakthroughs. India, Australia, England and Pakistan toyed with Bangladesh bowling. Only exception was cutter master Mustafiz taking 20 wickets including two five wickets haul. But his wickets mostly came in the later overs. Shakib and Mehedy Miraj bowled tight. But absence of a truly fast and penetrative fast bowler and a spinner caused Bangladesh leak runs. Bangladesh also dropped at least a dozen important caches which mattered most in the ultimate outcome of the matches.
Bangladesh lost a closely fought match against New Zealand. Mushfiq missed running out Williamson pretty early in his innings before he settled. It could be different story if Mushfiq did not make silly mistake. Sabbir dropped a dolly of Aaron Finch very early in his innings. This costly lapse made him blast Bangladesh attack. Finch and Warner batted Bangladesh out of the match. Tamim dropped Rohit Sharma of the bowling of Mustafiz very early in his innings. Rohit batting aggressively took the match out of Bangladesh. There were few other silly catch misses. A team can not compete well against top team of the world with such handicaps.
In middle to late English summer wickets get dry and wickets start gripping and turning. Bangladesh attacked lacked bowlers who could exploit the situation. As told earlier not fully match fit Mashrafe proved a burden in the team failing to perform in his main task. We are not also sure that he even led his side well. Rubel was under used and Rahi taken as a special bowler in world cup squad was not given opportunity at all. While one or two unfit players regularly played a fit youngster was not given opportunity at all. We are not sure whether Saifuddin was match fit or not against Australia.
Why Bangladesh players were allowed leave and let move away from the camp in the long break before two important matches against India and Pakistan? Who can administration and off the field matters of the team? What was the role of team manager? We heard BCB Directors were on World Cup cruise at the expense of BCB money (traveling in Business Class all the way and staying in 5 star hotels).
How could BCB president blame only head coach for lack of professionalism in the team? Why not Manager, Director (Cricket Operation) taken to task? Bangladesh was like Afghanistan which just appeared for the second time in World Cup. Team Bangladesh had the most experienced bunch of international cricket.
In conclusion we must say Bangladesh a nation which loves to dream perhaps over estimated a bit. Losing 5 matches out of 8 in a world event can not be a success story. Finishing at the bottom of 8 top ranked teams which qualified automatically can not be considered success.
There should have been at least one more left arm quality spinner in the team (Taijul). Taskin could be risked in place of Rahi who ultimately did not play. I am not sure whether all Bangladesh players could prove match fit in all matches.
It was a golden opportunity lost for Bangladesh. May be only Shakib and Mushfiq of the fabulous five may survive till CWC 2023. Players stepping into the shoes of Mashrafe, Tamim and Mahmudullah are not being seen in the pipeline. With a thoroughly unprofessional BCB admirers of Bangladesh cricket can not expect team Bangladesh match England, Australia, India, New Zealand, South Africa in the big league.
Even Pakistan, Sri Lanka and West Indies may leap frog Bangladesh soon if Bangladesh must not wake up overhauling domestic cricket structure. There must be professional cricket management. Director (Planning), Director (Cricket Operation) must be visionary. Bangladesh must have fast bouncy green top wickets in at least three major venues for encouraging fast bowlers and ironing the techniques of batsmen against genuine pace. There must be hunt for pacers and wrist spinner. Mushfiq must give up keeping and concentrate more on his batting.
Finally Bangladesh must find a world class full time head coach spending most of his time with the time in Bangladesh. Cricket super star of Bangladesh in the past now known for his coaching acumen at international level may be given charge of cricket academy. BCB directors and senior policy makers must not poke their noses too often in team selection. BCB seniors must be extremely careful in making loose statements.
For cricket going ahead from where it is Bangladesh need at least 100 players of international class to choose from. There must not be any compromise with fitness and discipline. Representing Bangladesh at international level must not be charity for anyone.
BDST: 0954 HRS, JULY 19, 2019