Monday, July 15, 2024

Keep your feet on the ground

Keep your feet on the ground
Very rarely do a team’s actions and words combine to paint as clear a picture as Bangladesh’s performance against Ireland and their captain Shakib Al Hasan’s words did at the post-match briefing on the Friday before their debacle against the West Indies. In truth, that picture could only be seen in full after their capitulation against a focused Caribbean team two days ago.
At the press conference following the Ireland match, when asked, perhaps a bit naively, why they had gotten out to bad shots in their innings, Shakib’s answer had some of the assembled press, who were only too relieved with the win in stitches, and others gobsmacked. “Because we wanted to get out. Because we felt it would be good for the team if we got out, and because we heard the lunch was good and we wanted to have a bite,” said the Bangladesh captain.
It was obviously said in jest, but it betrayed a lack of respect, not just for the inquirer or the assembled press, but most worryingly for the game. Bangladesh had after all been bundled out for 205 on their home pitch against an attack that was at best disciplined, and it was only natural that questions would be asked of their performance at the end.
Another revealing quote from that press conference came when he was asked whether the batting was a cause for concern. “We are not too worried. In the first match we scored 283 against India, and they are the No. 1 or 2 ranked side in the world,” came the reply.
After their defeat to the West Indies, when asked if he thought it was the saddest day in his career Shakib came out with a similarly bewildering answer, “It was a bad day for our cricket as we played poor cricket in the middle. It was definitely the worst day in my cricket career also, but you never know things can get even worse in future.” When saying these things, he should remember that he is not only representing a nation, but also that he is one in a long line of cricketers, many of whom have been greater and far more humble after both victory and defeat.
There is also a case to be made for the Tigers getting carried away by all the hype surrounding their World Cup chances — carried away to the extent that they have abandoned the processes that brought about famous victories, such as the 4-0 whitewash of New Zealand last October.
It was not always thus. In the fourth match of their famous whitewash of New Zealand in October 2010, Shakib came in at 44-3, and started slowly to score a brilliant hundred that carried the team to a match-winning 241.
Also worthy of note were his comments after winning the fourth straight match against the Kiwis, arguably Bangladesh’s greatest triumph. “We did not bat according to how we planned. But our spirit made sure we pulled through,” he said.
The problem with believing the hype is that a team starts playing in a manner that really does not suit them. At 24 for three against a bowling attack that is executing its plans, the logical thing to do is grind out a partnership. On Friday, each of the middle-order batsmen only knew one way — hit out. With that mindset, 58 all out should not be a surprise.
Also, to be as accepting of mediocrity as Shakib was after the Ireland game is a sure way to stunt growth. In October, against New Zealand, Shakib was critical of performances even after victory. That showed that he wanted to keep improving. It does not seem so now.
People will rightly point out that it is a very young team and to get carried away is not the greatest crime. But it is up to coach Jamie Siddons and the team management to keep them grounded. All is not lost yet, three games are still left to play.
Australian great Ian Chappell once said, “You tend to learn more from defeats than victories.” The nation will hope that a harsh lesson is learnt and the lie given to the hype before next Friday.


Courtesy of The Daily Star

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