Bangladesh v Pakistan, World T20 2012, Group D, Pallekele September 25, 2012

Enough is enough for underachieving Bangladesh

Bangladesh's players, fans and media have been satisfied with mediocrity for too long. Where is their Tiger Pataudi, or their Arjuna Ranatunga, to drag them out of that mindset?

Spend a day in the streets and restaurants of the teeming cities of Dhaka and Kolkata and you will find out how passionate Bengalis are. Passion is Bengal. Bengal is passion. Throughout history, the land has been at the forefront of revolution, be it nationalistic, linguistic, intellectual. It is time for another revolution to happen in Bangladesh. Of the cricketing kind.

It is time for Bangladeshis to say enough is enough. It is time for them to demand higher standards of a team that has mostly let them down, again and again and again. It is time for them to stop being satisfied with heroic individual performances from Shakib Al Hasan. It is time for them to stop celebrating a rare win over a top side like they have won the World Cup.

Bangladeshis are fanatical in their love for the game. Just as man has to breathe air to survive, whether it is stale or fresh air, so do Bangladeshis support their cricket team, whether it does well or not. Most of the times, it gets thrashed. But Bangladeshis' support for their "Tigers" does not waver an inch. They have been stoical as long as Bangladesh have been on the international scene. On the very rare occasion, their suppressed pain bursts through, as it did when Bangladesh were dismissed for 58 against West Indies in the 2011 World Cup on home turf in Mirpur. But on the whole, they have celebrated every small achievement. Small is what they have been afforded by their hopelessly underachieving team.

The cricketing reasons can be repeated endlessly. Lack of quality fast bowlers, over-reliance on one brand of spin, talented but unreliable batsmen, poor fielding. In the end, it must come down to that one word. Belief. To an outsider, do Bangladesh believe they can be world beaters? No. Do Bangladesh fans believe they can be world beaters? No. Do Bangladesh media believe they can be world beaters? No.

It is revealing to watch the reactions of the majority of Bangladesh media during a game. They are the rare breed in a press box who will clap and cheer every Bangladesh boundary, inside-edged or not, and every opposition wicket, earned or not. But it appears that deep down, they know that their team is not going to defeat a top side like say, Pakistan today.

There is another revealing factor. You can make out from the demeanour of the majority of the Bangladesh players and media that they feel they are from Bangladesh and the rest are from the top teams. This feeling of inferiority - to call a spade a spade - manifests itself in misplaced aggression in the comments section of ESPNcricinfo articles from Bangladesh fans. It manifests itself in Mushfiqur Rahim saying before the Pakistan game that Bangladesh have nothing to lose. Nothing to lose? There was a damn world event to be won for heaven's sake. Bangladesh had a chance, an outside chance albeit, of making the Super Eights, but it was still within their control. And yet again, they couldn't control their destiny.

Fight they did, but only with the bat. Even then, they made some basic errors that showed their tendency to lose their heads precisely when they don't need to. Shakib had taken Sohail Tanvir for three consecutive boundaries. There was really no pressing requirement for a tight single off the next ball. The result was that a batsman in full flow, Tamim Iqbal, was needlessly run out.

With Shakib hitting boundaries at will, Mushfiqur Rahim and Mahmudullah needed to ensure Shakib had most of the strike. Instead, they perished trying to hit big shots. Mushfiqur after being dropped, Mahmudullah off his very second ball.

Bangladesh's approach with the ball betrayed complete lack of awareness. Having watched a quality fast bowler like Umar Gul being carted for 43 runs in three overs due to his overuse of the short ball, they came out and proceeded to dish out the same stuff to Imran Nazir and Mohammad Hafeez. Mushfiqur later said they had used the short ball because subcontinent batsmen are weak against it. This after their own batsmen, also from the subcontinent, had taken Gul and his bouncers apart.

Saqlain Mushtaq, the former Pakistan offspinner and Bangladesh spin bowling consultant, said a couple of days earlier that Bangladesh had the potential to beat any side in the world if they played to their potential. Just how do they begin to play to potential more often than once in a blue moon? Just how do they develop that belief that they can defeat top sides consistently?

They can have all the coaches and consultants and support staff they want. But perhaps, it has to start from the leadership. Tiger Pataudi led an Indian team handicapped by their inferiority complex against sides like England and Australia. He got them to shed that complex and taught them how to win. Fourteen years after Sri Lanka played their first Test, Arjuna Ranatunga, combative and capable, led them to a World Cup triumph.

Where is Bangladesh's Pataudi or Ranatunga? Mushfiqur is a skilled, fearless and earnest young man. He would have made a fine head boy at school. Shakib is the incomparable genius in a side where nobody can hope to even come close to him. Tamim has the swagger of a man who can do things with the bat others in the side can only dream of. But can any one of these three be that inspirational leader, one whose presence and personality can shake Bangladesh out of their prolonged acceptance of low standards? Their fans can attempt to find out by raising their own standards.

Abhishek Purohit is an editorial assistant at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on September 28, 2012, 20:07 GMT

    Where is Abhishek Purohit now? Why shouldn't you now write the article named- Enough is enough for Inconsistent India?

  • Syed on September 28, 2012, 18:02 GMT

    You just say the mind language of all the Bangladesh fan... Tamim, Mushfiq, Sakib Only 3 Quality player we have in 15 crore people. Believe it or not!! If we change our poor mind satisfactory, we can play better cricket from any nation. Our cricket players are very much supported by our fans every time, even our losing streak gone on 50!! (Sorry for poor english)

  • M.G. on September 28, 2012, 14:53 GMT

    very well written; agree with most, but we all got to remember bd is still a very young team of cricieters. bd need may be another 5/6 years at the least to win consistently when this batch of youngsters get maturity, apply situation sensibly, and react and respond effectively. only hope that day comes sooner than later...

  • Andrew on September 28, 2012, 11:50 GMT

    @shams1882 on (September 26 2012, 08:17 AM GMT) - well said, sad but true! It is not a definitive reason, there are many other factors, but atelling one that is often overlooked. I don't necessarily agree with the Rahim example. His prime reason in the side is to be a Keeper, so hitting 6s isn't the main thing. I would say Taibu of Zimbabwe was close to the same size but bigger in the shoulders.

  • Andrew on September 28, 2012, 11:43 GMT

    @Legaleagle on (September 27 2012, 21:16 PM GMT) - mate, the fact is - it is barely 12 years since being given test status, that is barely one generation of sporting athletes. Bangladesh's problem is not the talent (they do well in U19s), it is the finishing school in their FC comp. They get that right, the results will follow. I would suggest their administrators should download a copy of Australia's Argus Report & amend where needed!

  • Ashraf on September 28, 2012, 10:03 GMT

    Mr.Abhishek, from cricinfo stat- Sep.2008-Sep.2010, BD played 27 ODI matches(EXCLUDING MATHCES AGAINST ZIM & IRE) & won 6, win percentage- 22%. Sep.2010-Sep.2012,BD played 22 ODI matches(EXCLUDING MATHCES AGAINST ZIM & IRE) & we won 9, win percentage- 41% . so u can see our winning percentage has been almost doubled in last 2yrs than the 2yrs period before that. so, things seem to be changing in a better way than u depicted in the article. ya,surely things could have gone better,but let me tell u we r not entirely frustrated with the stat i mentioned above...& the change in attitude- ummm well, that's being been loaded...yet to be served... :-) **Zim & Ire supporters, plz don't take it as an offense that the record against u weren't taken here. i did it just to get the record against the higher ranked teams. i hope u understand.**

  • Masnoon on September 28, 2012, 9:36 GMT

    I agree with the article about some bold criticisms here but it lacks pure study in some parts. The fans here in Bangladesh are never shy of expecting big, I remember there were news of some fans committing suicide when Bangladesh lost the final in the Asia Cup. Though we tend to celebrate even the small wins but it doesn't mean that we are satisfied with those wins only. When you get to witness your team winning rarely, it would surely generate exorbitant pleasure and because of our general attribute, we can't resist the joy and go on to dance on the streets like we have won the the world cup. Besides, you also need to understand that our first class cricket is only 12/13 years old whereas even SL have domestic four day competitions of more than 100 years old, let alone the earlier teams of test cricket.

  • Vinay on September 28, 2012, 8:36 GMT

    one of the truly stunning articles i have read on cricinfo, that goes beyond just cricket. I truly agree with everything mentioned in this.

  • Dummy4 on September 28, 2012, 7:38 GMT

    @Tasneem Raihan rply to "wickylover.paklover" force me to comment . It is very sad to hear this. But thing is that if i say same thing to u then there will be no difference between u and me. Only thing i want to say is that " May ALLAH give u sense so that u should think before u speak".

  • VINODK on September 28, 2012, 7:24 GMT

    They dont have enough quality players, how are they supposed to win? Ultimately that's the only thing that matters. The rest like self-belief etc can only take u so far.

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