Bangladesh cricket

'Bangladesh team is at its best place' - Tamim

As Bangladesh gears up for the home series against Sri Lanka, the Asia Cup and the World Twenty20, Tamim Iqbal says the team is more rounded now than ever

Mohammad Isam

January 23, 2014

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Tamim Iqbal takes a bike ride outside the Sher-e-Bangla stadium, Dhaka, January 22, 2014
Tamim Iqbal helps maintain a positive mood within the Bangladesh team © ESPNcricinfo Ltd
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Tamim Iqbal plays two critical roles in the Bangladesh side, that of an opening batsman and a senior cricketer. Over the next three months, when Bangladesh compete in three significant events, he will be essential to a team that needs its stability to be painstakingly choreographed.

Most of the factors that create equilibrium are coming together. Foremost is winning, and Bangladesh now do that quite regularly at home. There are more match-winners in the line-up too, which strengthens the team's mood. Still, the captain Mushfiqur Rahim and coach Shane Jurgensen have to carefully orchestrate the environment inside the dressing room and out, and that is where Tamim comes in.

Not only does he contribute top-order runs, Tamim is also a sounding board for the younger players and the go-to guy when the team needs a change of pace, socially.

At the nets, Tamim is usually the centre of attention. The adda is incomplete without him. His sense of humour is well received and he can strike up a conversation with almost everyone. At the crease too, Tamim is a strong presence and is as street-smart as batsmen come. He is Bangladesh's most successful opener and their third highest run-scorer in Tests.

Tamim averaged 42 in 2013 with three fifties but is not happy about the lack of a hundred in Test cricket. He hasn't scored one since June 2010 despite getting close a few times.

"There's no shortage of hunger on my part. I am making mistakes or maybe fate is playing a part in my quest for big scores," Tamim said. "But still I have time in hand. I averaged 42 last year despite not getting to milestones.

"I prefer that to averaging 25 after having scored a double-hundred. But at the end of your career the landmarks count and that's what pleases you. So the next time I get close to a milestone I will be more careful."

Tamim has the responsibility of setting up a solid start or firing off a chase, usually with a new opening partner in every series. He batted sedately in his last Test innings and had to defend himself for his strike-rate, which actually helped the team. Two months have passed since his 70 off 218 balls forced a second consecutive draw against New Zealand, but Tamim doesn't seem to be at ease with that performance.

What calms him is that he did it because he had failed to play such an innings when Bangladesh were chasing 245 against West Indies and lost. "The manner in which we couldn't chase 245 against West Indies in 2012 played in my mind on that day," he said. "I don't enjoy batting in that way, was never pleased. But I will always rate it highly because I batted for the team.

"We failed to score 245, so that fear helped me bat differently. You can't always bat as you like. Bowlers work on you constantly and as a result I have to step up every time. I was lucky to make 95 in the first innings, but at least I played my way. But starting well with the bat is very important for Bangladesh. If our top three clicks, a fantastic base is laid and we go on to do well."

Tamim has gone through several changes as a batsman and as a person and his attitude attracts many young players. He derives strength from his interactions with them, particularly those who work hard. "It is a two-way exchange even for a senior player," he said. "I enjoy this role because when I see them train hard, work on their fitness night and day, I want to do the same. I would not want anyone to think that I am far behind. At the same time, when the younger guys see us, they want to follow our standard. I want to take the performance to a higher level so that the newer players have something substantial to aim at.

"The likes of Mominul [Haque] and [Sohag] Gazi are helping us perform better as a unit. In the past a couple of players would perform, which never made it easy for us to win. You need one or two major performers and a few more who will support them. Now we have started to win games because the number of performers is more. Soon, I believe, the supporting cast would become the major performers.

"A new guy tries to give his best, which makes me want to do better. These factors tell me that the Bangladesh team is at its best place in the last 7-8 years. Shane [Jurgensen] makes sure the group remains happy, and that is why we like him."

When he is not playing or practising, Tamim is probably the most socially active member of the Bangladesh team, trying out new restaurants and taking his team-mates out whenever possible. On tour this role becomes more vital because players spend all their hours in hotel rooms after training. Tamim would search for restaurants, in London or Harare, just so he doesn't sit indoors all day.

"When we are in the hotel, we talk about cricket or watch TV. We don't drink or party," he said. "When I go on holiday, I feel hungry when I come back after a week. I really feel that a short break from the game is necessary to improve motivation and hunger.

Tamim believes staying fit over the next three months is vital for Bangladesh as they focus on the World Twenty20 at home. "The first thing is that everyone has to be fit. We will not get a minute's rest in these three months," he said. "Secondly, the biggest event is at the end of the three months. We have to do well in the World T20, and not just against Sri Lanka and the Asia Cup.

"We have to be at our very best, because if we don't we won't be able to compete. We can't win by playing a little poorly. Now we win when we play well. If everything goes well, we will have a fantastic three months."

He is glad that the weight of expectation is now shared by so many in the dressing room. Personally, Tamim wants to scale heights that are beyond the Bangladesh record books, but he also wants to remain the heart of the adda.

Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent. He tweets here

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© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by mrzoo on (January 27, 2014, 0:22 GMT)

Batting wise, BD has never had better batsmen like now. However, since the very beginning of BD cricket, BD has lacked skills in bowling dept and harsh truth is, we still dont have top class bowlers yet. Selectors should concentrate more in finding the much needed bowling talents for BD. We need good fast bowlers, in terms of spin, shakib, nasir and gazi are there.

I badly hope Tamim gets a century and nasir get some runs this.

Posted by Lakpj on (January 25, 2014, 10:25 GMT)

@Muhammad Jesus you need bowlers to win tests mate not batsmen, it is true Bangladesh have a few good batsmen but currently they don't have any bowlers who could take 20 wickets. unless SL do a stupid thing like they did against Pakistan in that 3rd test I can't see them winning. ODIs will be interesting as Bangladeshis have shown improvement there but strangely enough all 4 of Bangladesh's victories against SL have come in rain affected matches.

Posted by Dhali_BD_Fan on (January 24, 2014, 17:06 GMT)

@ Shane Jurgensen and BD Team - Play POSITIVE, confident and competitive cricket! It is a well rounded team - and it will be the team that gets success, not individual success. SL is a very good team, still trying to stitch together some pieces now, but they will come at us strong, they won't be weak since they just lost the last match having played well in the previous ones. Great article Isam - and it is always fun reading the comments of the readers, the good and the pathetic ones as well.

Posted by Legaleagle on (January 24, 2014, 16:30 GMT)

That's a funny statement from a player who cannot perform at the international level, and for a team that has pathetic test and one day record.

Inshallah Bangladesh will be defeated fair and square in this series.

Posted by   on (January 24, 2014, 14:00 GMT)

It is the time for BD players to prove that they have really improved for a consistent fight against good sides. We hope to have a full house gallery with fans during games which mostly depends on how Bangladesh contest the games.

Posted by asikbadhon on (January 24, 2014, 13:16 GMT)

this time it will be a good fight!in last Srilanka series we missed sakib,tamim,mash,robiul!mominul,shamsur,marshal,al amin all were new!this time bowlers like shahadat,abul,elias sunny,johurul etc are replaced by them+sakib+home condition!so Sri will find it tough to win the matches as they don't have the quality pacers like Nz,but they have herath!We have to careful about him!I don't think their pacers can be a threat in this pitches if we don't give away wickets!Sangakara is always good against us!make some plan to spot him otherwise he will take away our chances!my team for test:1.Tamim,2.Shmsur.3.Marshal,4.Mominul,5.Mush,6.Sakib,7.Nasir,8.Mahmuddullah9.Gazi,10.Robiul,11.Al-Amin....rubel is no good in test though he can reverse swing the older bowl(always said by our selectors but cannot get a wicket),imrul should get chance in odi in place of marshall,mahmudull should be replaced by forhad reza in odi!bets of uck tigers!

Posted by   on (January 24, 2014, 12:03 GMT)

More expectation from Tamim, it might sound odd but no way to concede that Tamin loses his short capacity. He seems slight weak in spins as well as not much boundaries are coming from him through square and cover. Things are recoverable, so lets see how does Tamim go; we don't want to see more Kapali or poi

Posted by   on (January 24, 2014, 0:58 GMT)

BD should continue to play more test and ODI matches against the top countries so that be higher in the ranking. in this way they won't be in the relegation system. they could bring aus to play 4 match test in a very flat and spinning wickets and play with spinners like Shakib (leg spin), Mahmudullah (off spin) , Gazi (off spin), Junior (leg spin), Zia (mp) and Forhad reza (mp) for batting they could have Tamim, Shamsur, Mominul, Shakib, Rahim, Nasir, Mahmudullah, Zia, Forhad reza, gazi, and Junior. with four specialist spinners BD could bowl out AUS in less than 300 in both innings and win the match since in a flat and spinny wicket fast bowlers wont be that much effective.

Posted by   on (January 24, 2014, 0:28 GMT)

BD should beat SL at this time in test to show that they are worthy in test arena

Posted by bdsmaruf on (January 23, 2014, 17:12 GMT)

"The manner in which we couldn't chase 245 against West Indies in 2012 played in my mind on that day," he said. "I don't enjoy batting in that way, was never pleased. But I will always rate it highly because I batted for the team". These lines really conquer the heart of us. tamim we really proud of you.

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