Those were the days of newspapers and radios. Those were the days when test matches would have a rest day on Sundays in England. So
much has changed since then in the world of cricket, but Lord?s remain the ultimate ground were all cricketers want to play a test match.
In about a day and a half from now 11 cricketers from Bangladesh will get this historic opportunity to show to the world how far they have
progressed in this elite class. While the cricketers may be passing nervous hours, there are so many things going on in the minds of people who
follow this team. Will our players be overawed by Lord?s or may be, just may be, Lords? will bring out the best in them. This is only a collection of
some random thoughts that come to my mind.
The final XI
The team make-up has always been the greatest pre-match source of fun and controversy among fans of team sports. We, here are no
exception. Supporters choose team based on individual liking, their knowledge of the game, and in cricket - the condition of the pitch and
weather, among other things. For this match, most of the fans in this board are of the view that we should go in with 3-pronge pace attack,
probably in the form of Masri, Taposh and Rajib. These are our best 3 pace bowlers at the moment. But I am of the opinion that we, being the
much weaker of the sides, can only try and spring surprise with our strongest suite ? which to me is our spinners. That would mean including
Enamul, along with Rafiq as the specialist spinners.
I might just as well be proven wrong, but I am willing to take the gamble. In this case, of course one of Taposh or Rajib would have to be
dropped. Aftab can do the medium pace stuff and might just as well be among wickets. He might be our future Mohinder Amarnath or Mudassar
Nazar. This implies dropping Rajin, and that is a big decision that the team management will find hard to take. If we assume that England will bat
for 125-150 overs it is more than likely that our pace bowlers will tire after bowling to them for that long. There is the distinct possibility that our
spinners might be wayward as well, but I feel if the pace bowlers cannot control the swing we will be in much bigger trouble. I suppose the other
players pick themselves without much debate.
The new kid factor
I, like many others, am hoping that Mushfiq will get the nod for the first test. The reason is simple, on the basis of the 3 matches (he played 2)
in England he has outshone everyone else. He may be only 16 but he should be given the opportunity. So far so good. What scares me is the
expectations of the fans. Test debut at 16 is a huge ask, that too, at Lord?s. And England in current form cannot be compared with the county
teams that we played. So please do not expect too much from him. Let him play his game.
I am no expert, but from following the game for many years this is what I think.
- As a team we have to score and also play out sessions. Score (75-80)/2 per session rather than 100/(4-5). If we score fast and get out fast,
then we will lose fast as well.
- One of the openers, possibly Javed, will have to just hang in there. Runs will come, he has to stay on like crazy glue for a considerable period
of time. If they don?t come in boundaries they should come in one?s and two?s.
- Pull down the shutters, close to the end of the intervals. So many times we lose set batsmen around those time that completely change the
complexion of the match.
- With a respectable start, we have enough stroke makers in this team to post something close to 300. This is achievable. Our numbers 7-9
are pretty decent batsmen. Two of them have test centuries. A lot will depend on them if the top order fails. Just don?t want them to hit out at
- The batsmen cannot just hang out their bats to outswingers and give catching practice to the England slip fielders. This would be the biggest
test. If the ball starts to swing too much then it might not be so difficult to let go. But traditionally, English bowlers have always been good swing
bowlers and this is their home turf. Lose balls will be few and far between.
- There will be swing for our bowlers as well. The key is to control and best use it. Contrary to common belief it is not easy to bowl in swinging
conditions. With good control, our bowlers can cause some concern to English batsmen. But if they spray all over the place, which is not unlikely,
then they will be punished heavily. This is, when slow medium pacers can come in handy. Someone like Aftab (assuming he is in the team) can
- Rafiq will have to do a lot of the bowling unless Enamul is also chosen. The spinners have to keep things quiet and hope the batsmen make
mistakes. In the past it had not been easy to play quality spinners like Underwood, Chandrashekhar or Mushtaq Ahmed. So I believe that the
spinners have a role to play, if not in taking wickets, at least in containing the scoring.
- Ashraful and Rajin (if selected) should also be turning their arms over. An unknown bowler sometimes fetches a breakthrough, due to the
uncertainty of what to expect and sometimes due to complacency on the part of the batsmen.
- It might not be so easy to hold on to the slip catches during early English summer, but guess what might happen if we let go a Flintoff catch.
There might not be a second chance. Slip catches become particularly significant in English conditions.
- The ground fielding has improved considerably with players like Rajin getting run outs. When the bowlers cannot get wickets a nice piece of
pick-up-and-throw can cause a run out affecting the same loss on the opposition.
One would expect a decent size Bangladeshi population to turn up on the ground. There will be millions more glued to the TV in Bangladesh,
and an unknown number behind their computer monitors. Wherever we are, we are all hoping for a commendable performance by our team. We
want them to fight till the last batsman and the last bowler. That is all that we want. There is no dearth of support for this team.
One final line for the supporters. The next couple of weeks might cause us many heartburns and some delight but let us take all in stride as
after all this is only a sport.