ICC World Cup: Can’t just lay the blame on Shakib’s doorstep, ex-Bangladesh captain says

Frustration grew among passionate Bangla fans as they slumped to a woeful defeat against the Dutch, supposedly relative noobs and underdogs

Former Bangladesh captain Mohammed Ashraful (photo: @ashraful_official/Instagram)
Former Bangladesh captain Mohammed Ashraful (photo: @ashraful_official/Instagram)

Gautam Bhattacharyya

A 87-run rout at the hands of qualifiers Netherlands at the Eden Gardens, Kolkata, left thousands of Bangladesh fans heartbroken on Saturday, 28 October.

If they were expecting that the Bengal Tigers would drive home the advantage against a so-called weaker opposition and use it to bounce back, the intent seemed absent. 

While a lot of the fans' ire was directed at an out-of-form captain Shakib Al Hasan, some even pleaded before the assembled TV cameras for the resignation of Nazmul Hassan Papon, president of the Bangladesh Cricket Board.

It’s been more than two decades since Bangladesh graduated into an official Test-playing nation. Yet, despite some sporadic brilliance, every major trophy has proved elusive, with the Tigers' best finish being as runners-up in the Asia Cup. 

How long would they continue like this, flattering to deceive? Even the TV pundits wondered.

Amongst them was Mohammad Ashraful, a former Bangladesh captain who now speaks for one of the Bangla start-up channels. Trying to break it down, Ashraful said: ‘’One feels sorry for the fans, but you can’t just lay the blame on Shakib’s doorstep.

"When you are on a losing streak, there will be a lot of post mortem. But the fact remains that he did not want to be a captain at the eleventh hour. He has made it clear that their final league match against Australia on 11 November would be his last as skipper. What extra motivation can one expect from him?’’ said Ashraful, who was himself hailed as a precocious batting talent in the early years of the new millennium.

Speaking to National Herald after his team slumped to the ninth spot on the table, with just one win out of six matches, the 39-year-old former star said that there had been a clear lack of planning ahead of major ICC tournaments over the years:

The faultline lies within our system. Just ahead of the biggest event in one-day cricket, Shakib (Al Hasan) washed enough dirty linen in public by saying that Tamim Iqbal was reluctant to drop down the batting order and hence opted out of the squad. There was no censure of him for creating such a bad blood ahead of the World Cup either.
Mohammad Ashraful, former Bangladesh captain

‘’Tamim (Iqbal) and Litton Das had been opening the batting in ODIs over the last two and-a-half years. Cricket is a team game alright, but who knows if Tamim’s presence could have boosted the batting line-up?,’’ said Ashraful, who had had a chequered career himself, having pleaded guilty to match fixing in a Bangladesh Premier League (BPL) game in 2013 and getting banned from international cricket.

Shaking off what he calls the ‘murkiest’ phase of his career, Ashraful has apparently turned over a new leaf, having completed a Level 3 coaching course with the ICC in Dubai earlier this year. 

Speaking about Bangladesh’s humiliation on Saturday, he assigned it to a combination of poor selection for the playing XI, faulty captaincy and a distinct lack of character during the chase after a modest 230-run target.

‘’There was certainly a case for playing an additional batsman in Towhid Hridoy, as you don’t really need a sixth bowler against the Dutch. Even a spinner like Mehidy Hasan Miraz got to bowl only four overs,’’ he observed.

Does the coach turned Tv pundit see heads rolling after the lacklusture showing?

‘’Possibly," said Ashraful, "but the idea should be to include the right players rather than just getting rid of senior ones.

"I would also like to see a few proven customers like Imrul Kayes and Soumya Sarkar, and keep faith in them for shorter periods."

Maybe that's the short-stints boost the Tigers need, then?

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