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August 24, 2004
Bangladesh's captain, Habibul Bashar, will miss next month's ICC Champions Trophy in England, after it was revealed that he would be requiring surgery to repair his right thumb, which he injured during practice last week.
Bashar received the news on Monday, after the Bangladesh Cricket Board had examined medical reports sent through by doctors in Australia. "We have received a verbal message that the thumb needs to be operated upon," said the BCB's cricket committee chairman, Mahbub Anam. "We are still waiting for the written report which is expected by Tuesday morning."
The news is a hammer-blow for Bangladesh's already slim prospects in the competition, and it is widely rumoured that Khaled Mahmud, the deposed former captain, may be asked to fill the breach because of his previous experience of English conditions. Mahmud captained the Bangladesh Under-19 side in a month-long unofficial tour of England in 1989, and was later a star performer for Bangladesh in the 1999 World Cup, when he was named Man of the Match for his part in the historic victory over Pakistan.
Other names in contention include Bangladesh's vice-captain, Rajin Saleh, and the wicketkeeper and former captain, Khaled Mashud. Justin Cordy, the team trainer, said that Bashar would be out of action for at least three weeks after the operation, but should be back in time for the start of a hectic home schedule beginning from October with New Zealand's tour.
Bashar himself was philosophical about the news. "It is just one tournament," he said. "If missing it makes the future better for me, I have no problems with it. Injuries are natural for cricketers and we have to accept it as a part of life." His replacement has been named as Faisal Hossain, the left-hander who had been dropped from the side after a miserable Asia Cup campaign. There had been speculation that the unachieving young star, Alok Kapali, would be recalled, but he has been kept on the sidelines to work on his form.
It is just the latest disruption to Bangladesh's preparations. Earlier this month, the team returned from Colombo to find two-thirds of the country submerged by the heaviest floods for a decade, while the team's final nets sessions were cancelled following a grenade attack at a political rally in Dhaka, in which 18 people were killed. But through it all, Dav Whatmore, the coach, is determined to remain upbeat.
"We won't go on the field thinking we are going to lose," he insisted. "We'll go out there thinking of doing our best. And if we continue to do that and if the players give their personal best performances, we are in a good shape to really push the opposition and take some wins. We have never changed that philosophy. All we all want is the right result, and that result is a win."
Rabeed Imam is senior sub-editor at the Daily Star in Dhaka.
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