World Cup 2019: Can bat, can bowl, will poll, but perhaps after the cricket campaign

Better sense prevailed after Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina met the two and advised them to not get swayed by politics and focus on the showpiece event instead. (Source: Twitter/mashrafebd)

Ahead of Bangladesh’s parliamentary elections in November 2018, there were murmurs that two of the country’s most popular cricketers captain Mashrafe Mortaza and all-rounder Shakib-al-Hasan would be contesting for the ruling party, the Awami League. In fact, both Mashrafe and Shakib had met Mohammadd Abu Naser, the senior information officer of the ministry of Road Transport and Bridges to discuss their foray into politics. Bangladesh has seen retired sports personalities becoming active politicians in the past. For instance, former cricket captain Naimur Rahman Durjoy, footballer Arif Khan Joy and Abdus Salam Murshedy are all incumbent MPs. But to have two active cricketers contesting elections would ve been a watershed moment in the history of Bangladesh.

However, this news was not well received by their die-hard fans. They believed that the duo’s entry into politics would be a distraction that could derail their team’s World Cup campaign in England, which was just six months away. Not surprisingly, the reaction on various social media platforms was pretty intense.

Better sense prevailed after Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina met the two and advised them to not get swayed by politics and focus on the showpiece event instead.


Overstressing the underplaying

Qinton de Kock was clear after South Africa’s defeat to England at the Oval that noone from amongst the Proteas was attempting to save the world (Cup) like Superman. Or in South African parlance, to be the next AB. There’s only one guy out there like that (Superman/AB), and he plays for England, the opener said, parrying back post-match expectations pressure on Jos Butler and the home team. He might’ve shambled a lazy flick down fine-leg’s throat to get out at the most inopportune timing in the innings chasing 311, but Quinton has set the tempo or tempered it of highly conservative self-expectations for the whole team. Captain Faf du Plessis too was pragmatic at his post-match presser saying cricket was very important, but not the most important thing in life, and he’d do everything to promote ‘relaxedness’ in the squad despite the trouncing by England and not get into familiar panic knots that ve earned them an adjective that completes 20 years now.


Bangladesh fans regret no wrist policy

Bangladesh is yet to start its campaign, but reasons for potential failure are already being bandied about. The match against India was only a practice fixture, but the defeat has prompted many to already figure out what’s missing in Mashrafe Mortaza’s squad. Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav accounted for six Bangladesh batsmen between them, and the country’s media is already lamenting that they don’t have any wrist spinner in the squad, apart from part-time leggie Sabbir Rahman. West Indies is the only other team missing that weapon from their attack, if one ignores the token presence of Shimron Hetmyer’s leg-spin, which may not be used by Jason Holder at all.

Prothom Alo regrets that the lack of a wrist spinner prevents Bangladesh batsmen from getting used to the threat in nets, and it was telling by the manner in which the middle and lower order dealt with the threat against India. Also, there was no deception and scope to beat both edges of the bat, which allowed MS Dhoni to KL Rahul to up the ante. Bangladesh play their first match against South Africa on Sunday, and they are certain to be tested by the wily Imran Tahir and depending on the condition of the Oval pitch, there may be a temptation to even get chinaman bowler Tabraiz Shamsi in the eleven.


Bangalian Rhapsody

Tumi ek sutoy ganthe paro, bandhte paro eki bandhane/satero cotir shiray shiray acho tumi praner spandane/… Mashrafe Bin Mortaza tumi Norail express (you unite a country of 17 crore people/ your name runs through our veins/… Mashrafe Bin Mortaza you are the Norail express) lyricist and composer Kabir Hossain s ode to Mashrafe Mortaza is going to be the Bangladesh fans theme song for the World Cup. The song encapsulates the Bangladesh ODI captain as a patriot. Sohag Rahmat is the singer and the music video already has close to 2,000 views on YouTube.


Played like boys (who didn t play well)

Twitter might have democratised criticism, but cricket s ex-players will always be first amongst equals, as they pour disdain on current teams. South Africa s tattered batting against England got Herschelle Gibbs started. Jacques Kallis, the eternal optimist (he even willed Saffers into chasing 430-odd against Aus, remember), had placated fears saying he saw nothing terribly wrong with the Proteas against England, just some starting jitters.

Gibbs, to be fair, would tweet Ok, then Jonty Rhodes, lightening quick as ever, would pipe up and toss one up saying: No @hershybru, not ok.

That was invitation enough for Gibbs to launch into everything that he saw wrong: You want me to be honest jo played like boys! Happy? (frownie) His litany would then include: lack of depth in reserves, no dedicated batting coach, no batter with a WC average above 50, and how Quinny plays whatever he feels like. Rhodes would keep shying at the stumps, cackling about there being no batting group, and would dutifully end with the disclaimer: it was easy to talk for him, sitting in Mumbai, and Gibbs in Cape Town.