Bangladesh news November 9, 2012

Tamim keen to end century drought

Tamim Iqbal is using his innings in domestic cricket to help him bat for longer periods in Tests

Tamim Iqbal has not scored an international hundred for two years and four months. During that time, he's made fourteen half-centuries in all formats. Now, a plan is in motion to help Tamim convert his starts into centuries, and it's already given him a spectacular start to the 2012-13 season, with three consecutive hundreds in the National Cricket league.

Chittagong Division haven't seen much of their most celebrated cricketer, with Tamim missing five years of first-class cricket since his Test debut in 2007. However, after months of travelling the world playing Twenty20 cricket, the first-class circuit is ideal preparation for a season of Tests. Bangladesh are likely to play seven Tests this season, and their first series is against West Indies, whose attack is sharper than the one Tamim faced last year. Moreover, because of the wet weather, the pitches at Shere Bangla Stadium haven't had the chance to dry, as was evident in the two NCL matches.

Against West Indies' varied attack on a pitch that is likely be spicy, Tamim's plan is to add more discipline to his batting. He believes it will take him to a higher level. He's been seeking this improvement for the last two years - a frustrating period in which Bangladesh played only five Tests.

"My only goal in this series is to bat in a disciplined way, the same way that I have batted in domestic cricket this season. Nothing more," Tamim told ESPNcricinfo. "In most sessions in a Test match, it is the bowlers who will be on top. A batsman has to bide his time to capitalise. If I can do well in bowling-friendly conditions, I can take myself to the next level.

"Test cricket is to test yourself; if you are less disciplined in Twenty20s, you can get away with it, but not in Test cricket. The bowlers test you mentally."

For Bangladeshi batsmen, the gap between domestic and international cricket is large and only a few have been able to make the transition. Tamim rose quickly in international cricket but was almost at the end of his tether in less than a year. It was Jamie Siddons, the former Bangladesh coach, who instilled a sense of responsibility into Tamim's batting and helped him open up his game on the leg side, setting him up for the next four years.

In those four years, Tamim mostly learned on the job against international bowling attacks, without going back to domestic cricket to work on technical issues. It is mostly scheduling that caused this, but maybe there was a lack of confidence in the NCL. His comeback for Chittagong last month wouldn't have allayed those doubts but domestic cricket, in most parts of the world, can't promise the same level of competitiveness for international batsmen, unless they are prepared to be proactive.

Tamim decided to challenge himself and add purpose to the exercise. He hardly wasted a minute on the first day, remaining not out on 176 against Dhaka Metropolis. "I wanted to bat long in first-class cricket. There was a target I wanted to achieve, that was to bat all day. I didn't know how to go about it because I have never done it before.

"Domestic cricket was a good place to start, so I thought I should try and do something that I have to do sometime in the future. I personally believe that if we play any cricket, it shouldn't be done without a purpose. Otherwise it is just a waste of time. So I was disciplined in all three innings for Chittagong, followed the same routines, and I was successful."

The three hundreds for Chittagong - 192, 113* and 185 - were also an exercise for Tamim to show restraint when nearing a milestone. He wants to slow down now, unlike occasions in the past when he tried to rush. He threw it away in an ODI against Zimbabwe, and crucially against West Indies last year, which cost Bangladesh heavily.

"I know how to score a century, but somehow I wasn't doing it. This time I have tried to change tact when I am in the 80s and 90s," Tamim said. "I tried to hit out of it, but now I want to wait for the perfect ball to hit.

"I think this is a reason why I missed so many hundreds after making 70s and 80s, I tried to play big shots. It happened here in a Test match. These are small things but I want to rectify them and the rest is up to the Almighty."

His next step is to bat with the same purpose against West Indies. Tamim wants to be fully prepared, mentally and technically, so that a failure doesn't hurt his confidence. "The bowling attack will definitely be better [than in domestic cricket], wickets will be better," he said. "But I won't be disappointed if I have done my part right and failed. I can tell myself I did everything possible. I'm preparing myself with the same game plan and discipline as I had shown for Chittagong."

Tamim's recent international form should encourage him; the four half-centuries in the Asia Cup are evidence of his growing stature as an opener. Those four innings, however, also underline what he thinks is missing from his repertoire. The Twenty20s have taken him places, but it will be his performances in Test cricket that will define the year for Tamim.

Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's correspondent in Bangladesh

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Jonny on November 12, 2012, 0:42 GMT

    Talking about young the Bangladesh leader 24 looks like 18 great man he is Rahim fan of him. I remember Ian Bishop saying last month just how funny Rahim and others like Tamim are great to hear. That picture of him on Bangladesh front page shows how committed he is to his Cricket anyway I hope he and the team do well and try their best. Probably won't win the test matches but lets make it as tough as possible for our respective opponents can't wait.

  • Shoaib on November 11, 2012, 23:48 GMT

    lolz someone on here is trying to say Tamim is not really 23 is all I need to here from such people I guess you met him looks young to me but anyway relating to this article, I don't know what happened to Tamim in 2011 looked totally out of form compared in 2010. Back then it didn't look to me as he was enjoying Cricket anymore but good to see his is again and wish him well and his family we're always behind you Tamim make us proud!!!!

  • Sanjay on November 11, 2012, 14:20 GMT

    He does look in good form, a smart move to play all those FC games before the Test series. As an Indian fan, I will look at the scorecards of the upcoming Test series with interest. However, I hope the other players don't leave everything to Shakib and Tamim, it's a team game after all.

  • Minahzur on November 11, 2012, 0:41 GMT

    Tamim is changing as a batsman now, we see signs of maturity and responsibility from him now. Only 23 years of age and debuted as a 17 year old and already achieved great things for himself.

  • Smith on November 10, 2012, 13:21 GMT

    He almost got a maiden 100 in T20 in the SLPL but the target score was already achieved remaining unbeaten. Tamim has everything is the batting book but just needs to be mindful on how he goes about this innings.

  • Dummy4 on November 10, 2012, 13:00 GMT

    He should be getting 100s all the time he has extraordinary talent still a very young man would you believe. He was in poor form in 2011 hope that he has learnt his lesson when he was dropped from the initial squad of the Asia Cup that no matter how good or popular you are, if you're not playing well then you're going to be replaced. I'm glad he's enjoying batting again and lets hope it stays that way.

  • Joe on November 10, 2012, 12:01 GMT

    Tamim is still only 23 years of age even though he has been on the circuit for 5 years now is amazing. Debuting as a 17 year old at the World Cup scoring a 50 that knocked India out was a wonderful moment for him and kick started an eventful career.

  • Jonny on November 10, 2012, 11:57 GMT

    This what Tamim should be aiming for hundreds instead of fifties I mean fifties are just consolation. A guy who has a fantastic record against England scoring 3 hundreds all at the age of 21 shows just how gifted he is but doesn't make the most of it. He can be all attacking he wants in T20 Cricket but we prefer if he changes his style for one-days and tests because Bangladesh are not by any means a strong team. Love to see him come and play in England again and have no doubt he will be the first Bangladeshi to achieve a double hundred in tests.

  • Sami on November 10, 2012, 11:44 GMT

    Yes Tamim is maturing now and changing his approach when batting because in his early years it was first ball bang out. Yes he got 4 50s in the Asia Cup but really should've been 4 100s because in each of those innings he threw his wicket away by playing a bad shot especially the Asia Cup final otherwsie Bangladesh would've won. I'm not saying he shouldn't be aggressive or anything but he should first play sensibly and change into attacking mode where Bangladesh are in a good position. Also his fitness seems to be part of the issue as well so that's one area he can do himself a vital favour. Like the article mentions correctly, his conversion rate is poor for example ODIs he made 23 50s with only 3 of them into 100s says it all. With that talent should already gotten at least 10 ODI 100s but I wish him all the best in his Cricketing career and life.

  • sadequl on November 10, 2012, 11:40 GMT

    Hope for the best & not only you [Tamim] we would like to see a positive approach from all others too who are having a chance to prove themselves they really belongs to have the test caps & title on their shoulder too. They got to realize the reality to adjust themselves in five a [5] day format match compare to hitting six's in T-20 or One day format while they jump in to the Mirpur ground.

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