Crowds turn on beleaguered captain

Time is running out for weary Mahmud

Martin Williamson

November 11, 2003

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Khaled Mahmud: Under fire
© Getty Images


Time appears to be running out for Khaled Mahmud, Bangladesh's increasingly isolated captain. One of the weakest links in the side as a player - and that is saying something in a far from accomplished squad - Mahmud is now under fire from Bangladesh supporters after two heavy defeats in the ODIs against England.

"It's really difficult to explain such a situation, but again that can not be an excuse for another poor show," a weary Mahmud told reporters. "I'm upset. We need to sit again and discuss what's wrong with us."

Mahmud was the target of the Dhaka crowd's anger, ridiculed when he was dismissed for 4 - an innings described by one commentator as "utterly clueless" - and booed during the post-match awards ceremony. He cast a sorry and lonely figure, and it can only be a matter of time before the calls from the stands for him to be replaced are heeded. "There will always be pressure when you play at home," he shrugged. "The crowd was shouting even when I was going out for the toss. That kind of reaction from the supporters is very painful. It hurts a lot.

"This streak of bad form won't last if we can perform to our potential," he added. "That's the main target. We've got to put some runs on the board."

Dav Whatmore was another bemused by Bangladesh's capitulation, although his job is safe given the improvements to the side's performances against Australia and Pakistan. But he looked a sorry figure as he watched Bangladesh's top order disintegrate for the second time in four days, and admitted that he was at a loss to explain yet another abject batting performance.

Whatmore smiled when asked what the difference was between the two matches. "In Chittagong we lost five wickets in between 10 to 20 overs," he said. "In Dhaka, we lost the wickets in the first ten overs. May be it was the only difference." But he emphasised that he had tried to instill the need for patience and thought about shot selection, a message seemingly lost on the batsmen. "Maybe some people didn't really understand what I meant," he shrugged.

One controversial decision was the omission of Habibul Bashar, considered by many to be Bangladesh's best batsman, from the second ODI. Mahmud tried to diffuse criticism, explaining that Bashar was "not performing in the one-day game. That's why we thought of introducing Moniruzzaman while giving him a rest." Like so many of Mahmud's gambles, it didn't pay off. Moniruzzaman made a duck and then put down Man of the Match Andrew Flintoff.

Soon it could be Mahmud who is the one being dropped.

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Martin Williamson Executive editor Martin Williamson joined the Wisden website in its planning stages in 2001 after failing to make his millions in the internet boom when managing editor of Sportal. Before that he was in charge of Sky Sports Online and helped launch and run Sky News Online. With a preference for all things old (except his wife and children), he has recently confounded colleagues by displaying an uncharacteristic fondness for Twenty20 cricket. His enthusiasm for the game is sadly not matched by his ability, but he remains convinced that he might be a late developer and perseveres in the hope of an England call-up with his middle-order batting and non-spinning offbreaks. He is now managing editor of ESPN EMEA Digital Group as well as his Cricinfo responsibilities.
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