A letter to Shakib Al Hasan

You call yourselves ‘tigers.’ We would naturally expect tiger-like performances

Dearest Shakib,

We haven’t met, but I have thought about you a million times since I’ve been watching you playing for our national team. I’ve cheered for you and your team-mates no matter how you had performed in the matches. When you became the number-one all-rounder, we all had hearts-full of felicitation for you. You became our pride. You’ve shown that it is possible for a Bangladeshi to excel in the international arena.

However, I’ve decided to write this letter to you after reading your interview in a vernacular daily. It was quite a thought-provoking interview after our breakdown as a team since the Sri Lanka series. This is a commoner’s response to your views about our cricket.

I must humbly say I couldn’t agree with your analysis on how the people’s expectation, media reporting, as well as pressure from the board hinder your natural talents. Well, after all these years, it would be very unfair on your part to blame our expectation from you as an obstacle to your performance.

I’ve played quite a lot of cricket when I was in cadet college. I remember the expectations from our college mates during the sports carnivals: The expectations were sky high and that immensely helped me perform much better.

It’s very likely that one would fall out of the team when one doesn’t perform. Performance is actually the name of the game. When you say the media is adding fuel to your bad performance, I’d kindly request you to have a look at the media in other cricketing countries.

You must remember when you defeated India in 2007. You scored 53, Mushfiq 56, and Tamim 51. Remember that? You must have noticed how the media in that country dissected their cricketers. Their cricket board was also equally critical of their performance.

I’m sure the media and the board weren’t demonising their cricketers – they actually wanted their national cricket to improve. And it did! Indian performance became fantastic after that! It was similar in all the cricketing nations.

Do you think our expectations would be less when you’re not playing in the home ground? Our expectations would be the same as you see around you when you’re in our own surroundings.

We’d cheer, we’d shed tears, and we’d shrug at you in the same manner. Only you wouldn’t see that. If you had felt the “expectation” pressure from us, you never asked us to stop calling you “tigers.”

Rather, you always enjoyed being termed as “tigers.” Your TV commercials, done for the various businesses, are also testimony to that. You call yourselves “tigers.” We, the commoners, would naturally expect tiger-like performances from the tigers.

Yes, you’re right when you say we don’t have enough players in the pipeline and the state of our local cricket isn’t good enough. Our board hasn’t taken or couldn’t take the initiative to improve it. And you must have also seen how the media as well as the people were critical of the board for this.

Yes, whatever lacking we have is the responsibility of all of us. We don’t, in fact, blame the players for our performance. But when you say you don’t have proper practising facilities, we humbly don’t agree with you.

It’s you who have to utilise the facilities for our nation. We’re no longer in the 70s or 80s when we played friendly matches with foreign teams. We are now in the big league and we chose to be there. We chose to fight; we chose to dance in the tunes of international arena. Let’s act like a big-leaguer. Let’s believe that we can also be a big player in the game.

If we don’t believe, we may never become like West Indies, or Pakistan, or India. We don’t think you have anything less than players like Chris Gayle and others. You had successfully defeated the teams that had Tendulkar and many more outstanding cricketers. But when you consider yourself physically inferior to them, that they have all kinds of juice and you don’t, it really sounds very funny.

I’ve never stood by you to see how well-built you are to fight them, but from a distance, I could tell that you’re as good as them. I don’t think you’re anything less than Rahul Dravid or Saeed Ajmal, or Sunil Narine. But it hurts me when you say you’d never bowl like Ajmal and Narine. It’s clear that you do want to be like them.

The first task is to “want.” If we fail in our want, we’ll never achieve what we “need.” Yes, there’s a huge gap between our national “want” and “need.” And, my dear Shakib, you have turned out to be one of the best examples. I must thank you for subconsciously agreeing that we don’t have that killer instinct, or the will to win matches. We’re pretty much satisfied with the small wins we get from time to time.

You seem to chicken out from the great potential that you have in you. You’re failing to see the light in yourself, the inspiration from your countrymen, the crazy supporters. It’s not pressure from us; it should be your fuel to keep up.

Having said that, I must thank you for bringing up the issue of patriotism. With hand on my heart, we never thought you’re any less patriotic than any of those who consider themselves patriots. You guys are the best patriots we’ve ever seen after the independence. Keep making us proud, play for us, play for your team.

Remember, we’re always with you, looking forward to support you in the coming challenges.

Source: Dhaka Tribune