The supremacy between Lara and Sachin is a long undecided affair. While in the category of career average and number of runs in both forms of the game Sachin is clearly the winner, a lot of people tend to support Lara based on the opinion that he is the more talented and capable of the two, and probably the better match winner too. But people like me support Lara for another reason: style. The stylish batting of Lara is simply unrivaled. And there is a cause, too. Left handed batsmen, however rare, normally tend to be the more eye-pleasing of the two batsmen types. Just think of the way they cut, pull or drive through cover. Or just remember the majestic dancing-down-the-wicket long-on sixes by Ganguly. Also, the cool finishers Bevan and Hussey, to whom Aussies own many of their close wins, are left handed.
But there is something more about left handed batsmen that the eyes do not catch so easily. It is their contributions to a developing team. Recent history just shows us that left handed batsmen may just be the preferred kind in the voyage of a team to maturity. Just take a look at the present WI team. While the team is still vastly unstable, the fact that this team can now give any team a good thrashing at their day is mainly due to the presence of the likes of Chanderpaul, Gayle and Lara in their team, all left handed batsmen.
Now letâ€™s look a little back, at the previous two teams that got test status ahead of us. First comes Zimbabwe. They are now in a position where no one wants to be at, but thatâ€™s another matter. Look at their previous two world cup
performances. In 2003 their place in the super six was mainly due to teams refusing to play in their homeland. But in 1999 they earned their place. The beating of South Africa was a remarkable one. And the man of the match that day
was Neil Johnson, a left hander. And after that, they were cruising merrily, and if the turmoil did not happen, they might have gone to the top six of the rankings by now, the way they were going. Remember the streak of fifties by Andy Flower, after that? We were his victim, too. And to the transformation of the team, the key elements were the left handed batsmen Neil Johnson, Andy Flower and Alistair Campbell, all of whom were capable of winning a match.
A flashback to the Sri Lankan team that permanently transformed their position among the elite. No one should argue that while their bowling attack also performed their job, it was the formidable batting line up that won them the 1996 WC. And it's no coincidence that it was full of blazing left handed batsmen like Ranatunga, Gurusinha, Jayasuria. Another similarity between the Zimbabwean and Sri Lankan team is that both the captains were left handers, and brilliant captains they were, especially Ranatunga.
Therefore, the presence of at least three left handed batsmen is quite important a fact in one teams journey to success, and hopefully, we have got our pack waiting, too. Shahriar Nafees lead our team in the first 20Twenty, a match in which Sakib and maybe Mehrab also played. Nafees has already proved to be the most consistent batsman in our current line up. While Sakib and Mehrab still have things to prove, their performance at the A team and U-19 level or the National League leaves enough room for us to hope.
And then there are the ones in the pipeline. Nazmus Sahadat is certainly the most exciting prospect to be the partner of Nafees. And there is another person whose performance has not really reflected his level recently, but I for one would love to watch him play for the team, Tamim â€˜Butcherâ€™ Iqbal. Younger brother to former national team opener Nafees Iqbal, this former U-19 lad can just chop a team on his day, much like Jayasuria.
Now let's take a closer look at these left handed Bangladeshi batsmen:
Shahriar Nafees: When BCB announced him to be the cricketer of the year, many had doubts in mind, but now? A thousand runs had been a big
milestone for our cricketers for a long time, Bashar extended it in tests, and it seems like in Nafees, we got our Bashar for ODI's too. The way he is going now, I sure hope he will extend our milestone limit much higher. Getting 1000 runs in ODI in only 29 matches, more importantly, in a calendar year, shows that Nafees has what it takes to be a world class cricketer in these busy cricketing seasons. Even with so many young cricketers contesting for an opening spot, he has his place cemented in the team, and is most probably our new captain after Bashar.
Sakibul Hasan: We hardcore fans had a place booked in the future National team for this talent even before he appeared in the U-19 WC, and
he did not disappoint us. Ask any fan of BD to talk about the untouchable list of Dave Whatmore, and Sakib will be a sure inclusion, and that too after only about half an year of international cricket. True all-rounders are the most valuable asset of a team, and we have got our man here. An ace with the bat and ever consistent with the ball, he can easily give up one of these departments and simply get into the team with the other. I hope for him to be our Bevan, the cool finisher.
Mehrab Hossain: One of our everlasting debates about the U-19 team of ADW, that really changed our expectation levels, is who is the better
all-rounder, Sakib or Mehrab? Mehrab won the bout in U-19 WC, and although he got the call after Sakib, like Sakib, he cemented his place at the top of the order with only a few matches. He, along with Shahriar Nafees, gave us a thing long forgotten since the days of Opi-Bidyut, a consistently performing opening pair. Although he was criticized for his slowness, he is no Golla, and he can score at a fast rate when the situation demands, as he has shown in other levels. His all-round capabilities are also proved. Although he has not got the chance to free his arms regularly because of the abundance of SLA's in the team, his past
indicates that once he gets his chance, one of those SLA's might get axed. I'd like him to take the batting position of Habibul Bashar after the WC instead of his current place.
Nazmus Sahadat: A consistent performer in the age group and national level, this lad has the makings of a true opener. Had it not been for Mehrab, he could have been opening partner of Nafees by now. We only can hope for a win-win situation for our cricket with this boy performing and pushing for a opening slot in the team, and if this continues, what an opening place race it
may become for us fans!
Tamim Iqbal: Another Khan from Chittagong. Brother of Nafis, nephew of Akram. Really? Yes, but he does not need this introduction anymore, now Akram and Nafis should be introduced as Uncle and Brother of Tamim. Dashing is maybe an understatement for him, Rabeed Imam once used the nickname 'Butcher' for him and it probably is the one word best suited for him. On his day he simply slaughters the opponent. Another prodigy from that famous U-19, I just want this boy as the partner of SN, as he has what it takes to lift our cricket one step, he can surely be our Jayasuria. What is the question mark here is consistency, and this is the reason Mehrab got his chance ahead of Tamim. Only time will tell whose path he will follow, Akram or Nafis?
The impact that left arm spinners has had on our team has been tremendous. But I believe such an impact will be left on the team by these lefty batters also.
Now there is some clarification. While many of you might think that what I am trying to say is that a left handed attack is essential for success, actually I merely wanted to point out that in recent past, teams with a left handed majority at the top had more success at climbing the ladder, and therefore, a left handed majority in our top order, of course a world class left handed majority (all of those players I mentioned has the future as a batsman in the ranking's top 10), increases the chance of success. But the presence of brilliant right handers is also important. Aravinda de Silva and Kaluwitharana played a huge part in Sri Lanka's uprising, and you cannot rule out Sarwan's contribution to West Indies. I hope Ashraful and Aftab will play that part in the Bangladeshi team.
So, if the past is any indication, we can certainly hope for a future where we are among the best teams in the world, with a balanced left-right batting combination. Yes, "balanced" is the keyword here. Beware, the Left Handed Revolution is about to happen in Bangladesh cricket!