IPL was an educational experience, says Tamim
A few weeks outside of his comfort zone hasn't caused Tamim Iqbal to shed his energetic demeanour. Talking to the media for the first time since returning to Dhaka after the IPL, where he did not get a game in 16 matches for his franchise, Pune Warriors, his answers were an exercise in controlled emotions and wit. He took the route that would help soothe his and the fans' nerves. In fact, he said he was not available for the team's final two matches due to "personal reasons".
"It will be selfish to say that they [Warriors] didn't let me play," Tamim said on Saturday. "I have always been a team man, wherever I've played."
Being one of only two representatives from Bangladesh in a multi-national tournament like the IPL meant that there was added pressure, especially after going into the tournament on the back of four consecutive half-centuries in Bangladesh's highly successful Asia Cup campaign. That good form also added to Tamim's frustration at not playing. "It was very frustrating, because I went there with very good form. I thought I would play from the start, but the team is the most important factor. I thought every day was an opportunity for me, despite not playing.
"The thing that I liked the most was that despite being from Bangladesh, I did speak during team meetings. These things are very important because our team [Bangladesh] needs a lot of leadership qualities, so if we can speak to big players [from other countries] and in big team meetings, our leadership qualities will rise. I'm sure Shakib has done it [at his IPL franchise, Kolkata Knight Riders], and I did it."
Tamim also said that he enjoyed observing those around him, especially the big two in his team - captain and mentor Sourav Ganguly, and Australia captain Michael Clarke. "They are both very different human beings; they have different ways of thinking. It was very interesting to see how they talk in team meetings, especially Ganguly, who is one of India's best captains. I saw something in him … the way he talks, he means something.
"Clarke told me that I should be playing, that meant a lot to me. If he rates me highly, why should I be disappointed? More importantly, I got the idea that he follows Bangladesh cricket. He and I spoke a few times and he told me that our unit has a lot of potential. He also said that we have a chance to impress at the next World Cup.
Despite being in such exalted company, Tamim remained a competitor and yearned to play. He was told to be prepared to play on several occasions, he said, but his chance just did not come. "There were many instances when I was asked to get ready but in the end I didn't play. I was being told, when six matches were left to play, that you'll play this game, that game ... When I shared my problem with them, they told me to go home and sort it out first ..."
"But I'm just 23, I have 10-12 years of cricket in me, so if I keep performing there will be a lot of opportunities."
Now Tamim will take a few days off before joining Victoria Sporting Club in the Dhaka Premier Division's Super League from May 31. Later, in mid-June, he will travel with Bangladesh to Zimbabwe.
Mohammad Isam is senior sports reporter at the Daily Star in Dhaka