Bangladesh, a riverine nation, is famous for its culinary culture and greenery. The country takes pride in royal Bengal tiger which lives in “Sundarban”. The country wants to be a tiger in every aspect of life. Bangladesh is a developing nation whose one-third of population struggles to meet ends on day to day basis; where violence, political instability, rich culture of music, theater, and the simplicity of village are amalgamated with each other.
A sport has a great power to put simle on people’s face, who otherwise are mingled with day to day issues, in any country. The history has always supported that theory. Bangladesh, a developing nation is no different from other countries that found solace in sports. Be it West Indies of 1980s in cricket or Brazil of last decade in football, they were famous for their game only because they lived sports entirely.
A look back at the history will tell us that Bangladesh got their ODI status back in 1986, but failed to justify their status as late as 1999. Their first victory came in 1999 world cup at Edinburgh when they defeated Scotland by 22 runs. Subsequently, they defeated their archrival Pakistan by 62 runs, which by many players is considered the sweetest victory till today. Lack of consistency, occasional upset over a Test playing nations such as Pakistan, India, Australia, and South Africa shocked everyone, but they were not playing the cricket which could have made them a competitive team.
A vision and strategy was needed to uplift the game in the country. The country, as a colonial bride, never has a dearth of passion for the game. One of the major problem with them was that the administrators lacked vision. They squandered almost two and half decades to find out the solution.
In 1999 world cup Bangladesh caused an upset victory over their erstwhile tormentors Pakistan. In 2004 an overconfident India, who dropped Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid, lost the game, but went on to win the series 2-1. In 2005 the invincible Australia surrendered to a batting brilliance of Mohammad Ashraful at Cardiff. In 2007, India tamely surrendered to Habibul Bashar and co. These victories were as precious as diamond with each occasional victory, the country observed festive celebrations for two or three days.
But, the story was same, as no development in the game was visible, mainly due to lack of infrastructure. A few brilliant cricketers made their name internationally, was due to their personal brilliance; among them are left-spinner Mohhammad Rafiq, now commentator Athar Ali Khan, right hand batsman Alok Kapali, former captain Habibul Bashar and in recent past extremely talented Mohammad Ashraful. The crumbled supply chain looked ominous for their progress.
A few of them emerged in different eras and showed their brilliance. There was no team comprised of bunch of young guns like today. Criticism, both inside and outside of country riddled BCB as in the past two decades Bangladesh cricket had been in shambles; failed to make a mark in international cricket. In between BCCI helped Bangladesh get the Test status in 2000. However, that did not help Bangladesh to reform their cricket immediately.
Although, here it must be mentioned that they took a big stride by playing a depleted Zimbabwe in back to back home and away series in the early years of 2000s. They were defeated by the African side, but the margins were not as big as before. It was observed that their lack of cricketing wisdom and less experience of handling pressure situation saw them end up on the wrong side of results. Finally in 2004 the ODI of series victory came at home as they defeated Zimbabwe by 2-1 margin.
A ray of hope spread across the country. Bangladesh cricket Board called a series of meetings to draw a blue print for the future of the team. A culture started from then which contineous till now. The immediate effect was that they defeated India in 2007 world cup. But they were ousted from the multilateral event losing to Sri Lanka and Ireland. The process since has never got derailed. The culture of school cricket got a boost. District cricket has become more competitive and professional.
The most important thing for the development of the cricket is academy. Bangladesh had taken the project in hand in the year 2007 with the technical assistance from Cricket Australia to raise the standard of cricket in Bangladesh. The concept was that the cricket academy would bridge the gap between the national side and the under 19 team as Bangladesh, by then, had become more dependent on the youth players, for their obvious talent, rather than the players from first class cricket which is the practice is traditional cricketing countires.
Along with that BCB helped each district cricket association in building a cricket academy. The supply line has been strong for quite some time now. As a result Players like Mustafizur Rahman from a district-Satkhira is today considered as future of Bangladesh fast bowling with an impressive debut against arguably one of the strongest batting line-up in the world. Like him, a bunch of young stars from districts made Bangladesh a force to reckon with in international cricket. District cricket is so strong that now we see more players from districts featuring national team instead of big city boys. The current Bangladesh team, which defeated India in back to back ODI, comprised 9 districts cricketers and only two players from big cities.
The result is now tangible. During the world cup they defeated Scotland, Afghanistan and England but went down to India in a controversial match. Before that happened, they whitewashed New Zealand 4-0, West Indies, 3-0, Zimbabwe 5-0 at home. With these three series wins, Bangladesh rang the bell of their long awaited arrival in international cricket. A team hungry for success hosted Pakistan. What followed was an astonishing Bangladesh whitewash or populary called “Bangla wash,” as Pakistan suffered a humiliation. Bangladesh won the ODI series under the tutelage of Chandika Hathurusingha and Heath Streak who deserves a special mention here. There was no doubt that the Tigers had prepared well for India series which was for them a sort of revenge series after world cup defeat to India. The executed plan to the perfection, as a professional Bangladesh team eventually became a series winner. In the last 16 ODIs they have won 12 and at home they are undefeated in last 10 matches. On current form, The Tigers look invincible, at least at home.
List of Bangladesh squad and the districts which they belong:
Mushfiqur Rahim (Bogra) ,Soumya Sarkar (Satkhira), Shakib –al-Hasan(Jessore), Litton Das (Dinajpur), Mahmudullah Riyad (Mymensingh) , Rubel Hossain (Bagerhat), Mominul Haq (Cox’s Bazar), Nassir Hossain (Rangpur), Sabir Rahman (Rajsahi), Tamim Iqbal (Chittagong), Taskin Ahmed (Dhaka), Taijul Islam (Natore), Mashrafe Mortaza (Jessore), Anmul Haque Bijoy (Khulna) , Imrul Kayes (Kushtia), Arafat Sunny (Dhaka-Amin Bazar).