Bangladesh's captain and coach have hit back at the former players who have been criticising the team in newspaper columns and on talk shows on news channels. There has been widespread criticism of the team management after their dismal effort against West Indies - 58 all out. Neither Jamie Siddons nor Shakib Al Hasan pulled punches in response to the criticism.
In a press conference in Chittagong, Siddons said, "We try not to read the paper or listen to what people write. Everybody's got to write, they write what they want. [However], lot of players are disappointed by the past players having their say. And I am disappointed by some of the past players who are saying stuff about me as well. I wish they had the b*** to say that to my face. Some of them are not that courageous."
Shakib expressed his disappointment in a column he wrote in Prothom Alo. Shakib suggested that his team has not performed as badly as the previous teams did. Loosely translated, he wrote, "I don't think there are former players in Bangladesh who have not faced such a humiliation. We have faced such a situation once or twice, but there are former cricketers who have been in such situations often. So everyone needs to think before talking. I am not saying that every former cricketer is trying to run us down. There have been some who have lent out a supporting hand. That has been our biggest boost."
Siddons was more forgiving of the people that threw stones at Shakib's house. "Some people react," Siddons said. "Things happen in every country of the world, after crazy performances like that." That just suggests how irked the team is by the columns and the talk shows.
That is perhaps because there is no doubting that the majority of the crowd has been good and well behaved. "These people are very big supporters of cricket, very big supporters of the Bangladesh cricket team," Siddons said. "I saw nothing different when we drove in today, or yesterday from the airport. Unbelievable support. Everyone was disappointed by our performance, but everyone needs to realise these are the best 15 players in Bangladesh, and they are doing their best. If they have bad performances, that's the way it is. We are trying, we are doing our best. We'll play good cricket against England. Inshaallah."
However, Siddons said that the unrealistic expectations of his side could have played a part in the ugly public reaction and also in the players' failure to play freely. "Yeah I think the expectations are unrealistically high for this World Cup," Siddons said. "Definitely for our team. Two years in, we have improved a lot, but the expectations are high. We were playing at home. We expected it to be a good contest with West Indies. We expected to push them. On that wicket, if we made a decent score or if we bowled first, the result might have been different. Because it spun, it would have helped our bowling against their batting, but we had no runs to play with."
All this, Siddons said, has made the side more determined. "Definitely more determined. And also makes us realise where we are at. We need to improve some things, and we can be - because of our youth and age - up and down. Don't expect us to be that down, though. We have been playing better cricket for the last 12 months, and that was out of the blue. No one expected that, that's why we are so devastated."