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We don’t want to hear "Our target is next World Cup" anymore



Sun, 7 Jul 24

In the recently concluded T20 World Cup, cricket fans were deprived of captivating batting performances. The pitches in the two host countries (the United States and the West Indies) behaved differently. Never before in T20 World Cup history have both semifinals been so lackluster. However, Asia and Africa sent an important message in the ninth T20 World Cup: to play well and win in the World Cup, a team needs to perform well under pressure with a hunger for victory. Players must have confidence, courage, belief in their abilities, and trust in their skills. India's unbeaten championship win after so many years can be attributed to their consistently positive cricket as a team from start to finish.

Spectators always crave excitement. Cricket writer Achintyakumar Sengupta wrote, "Don't blame the crowd. They are customers of immediate bargains. Their only product is excitement. Don't ask the audience to be philosophers. Just keep them awake and on their feet. Those who don't want to be satisfied want to be ignited."

From the very beginning, spectators have worshipped aggressive batting in cricket. Think of Sir Don Bradman's era in the 1930s. His scoring over three hundred runs in a day in Test cricket thrilled the spectators. When Australia's Don Bradman was out, many spectators would leave the ground, believing the game was no longer enjoyable.

Since the start of the World Cup, there have been negative accusations that India has been given various advantages, which the ICC has tolerated. Even though the general public across different countries understands that the ICC keeps the Indian Cricket Board happy for commercial and self-serving reasons, the ICC is not embarrassed. The global cricket community knows that without India, milking the sport is not possible. The drama created by humans in cricket varies in rules and principles.

Among the four matches in the World Cup, Bangladesh won three—against Sri Lanka, the Netherlands, and Nepal. However, they narrowly lost to South Africa by four runs. For the first time, our cricket team made it to the Super Eights in the T20 World Cup. Though it may sound harsh, the truth is that the team's mental weakness, inability to accurately assess players' capabilities, lack of confidence, and the top-order batsmen's lack of form before leaving the country prevented the team management from confidently stating, "Our primary goal is to reach the Super Eights."

Bangladesh's qualification for the Super Eights was largely due to the bowlers' contributions, accounting for ninety percent of the success. The top-order batsmen could not find their rhythm in the World Cup. Senior players failed to deliver the expected performances in this 'assignment.' Several junior players, including Rishad Hossain, Towhid Hridoy, Tanzim Hasan, and others, pulled the team forward with responsible behavior. This is a significant achievement and satisfaction. Senior players like Shakib, Mahmudullah, Liton Das, Soumya Sarkar, and Nazmul failed to play the expected roles.

In the Super Eights, Bangladesh couldn't create any competition against Australia and India, which is the reality. However, in the last match against Afghanistan, when there was a significant chance for Bangladesh to make it to the semifinals, the team failed miserably to seize the opportunity. They needed 116 runs in 12.1 overs. After losing three wickets, the team was overcome with negative thoughts and gave up the fight. If they had fought bravely, it might have created a new chapter in our cricket history. Playing with a weak mindset, Bangladesh ultimately handed over both the mango and the basket to Afghanistan. This not only disappointed the country's people but also left the Cricket Board and its President, Nazmul Hasan, dissatisfied and embarrassed. The contradictory statements from the team's captain, Shanto, surprised many. He expressed both satisfaction and dissatisfaction with the World Cup performance as a captain, which is puzzling.

One of the many problems with the country's cricket is the creation of baseless new stories in the media for personal and collective interests, leading to misunderstandings and instability in the cricket arena. This is detrimental to the unity of the country's cricket. The chief coach did not include Taskin in the team against India. Taskin couldn't join the team on the bus from the hotel on time and later arrived on his own. Everything has rules and regulations. By the time he arrived, the team was just minutes away from taking the field. Only the board has the authority to dismiss the Sri Lankan coach. Thinking that dismissing the Sri Lankan coach will fulfill all desires is not feasible. The stories about who is autocratic and who believes in democracy in the dressing room are often supplied from outside. The research indicating that the team management can't tolerate certain players cracks the team's unity.

There is still a long way to go for consistency in T20 cricket. A lot of paths need to be crossed, and much hard work is required. The team needs to be reorganized and put in a lot of effort. Players need to become accustomed to this game while also becoming confident, brave, and mentally strong.

The team returned to the country a while ago. There needs to be a thorough review and discussion of the achievements and shortcomings, successes, and failures of the entire tour. It is necessary to identify the opportunities, weaknesses, and threats. There is no need for a so-called 'investigation commission.' Everything that happened on and off the field is now clear. Cricket dreams should be united and well-organized. Time is passing quickly. Others are advancing despite various limitations. We should set a specific goal for cricket that is as sacred as religion and work with accountability to achieve it.

We cannot repeatedly say, "Our target is the next World Cup." This assurance has already sparked discussions to manage the situation. The next T20 World Cup will be held in India and Sri Lanka in 2028. Our target should be to reach the semifinals in that tournament. Let's start working towards that goal now.

Author: Columnist and analyst. Former Senior Vice President of AIPS Asia. Lifetime member of the Bangladesh Sports Press Association. 

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