Cricket In The Time Of Terrorism
Mumbai: When terrorists shook Paris in November last year, a football match was underway between Germany and France. Not for a moment did the footballers signal a walk-over, they held their nerve and played out 90 minutes amidst gun shots and killings. Sports often faced consequences of such brutality and the Dhaka incident, which killed 28 people in an upscale café, is a threat to Bangladesh cricket’s further escalation.
“The players were very afraid,” said Germany’s general manager, Oliver Bierhoff, but camaraderie, brotherhood won over blood and fear.
The French football team delayed their routine, cancelled plans to spend more time with their German friends who slept in their changing rooms; similar to what Bangladesh cricket needs at the moment.
England have raised concerns about touring Bangladesh after the terror attacks on July 1.
But instead of mulling over cancellation – scheduled in October – they should rather go ahead and play out of their skin; there are no security concerns in the Bangladesh stadiums.
According to a source close to Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB), the group is aware of the penalty and trying their best to have logistics in place and tighten security.
“Bangladesh has been hosting tournaments for more than two decades now. We believe in friendship, brotherhood and peace. The security will be the best in the business. We will go all weapons out to protect our guests who come here to play cricket,” he said.
It is to be noted that in spite of several heinous acts in India, cricket didn’t stop. England had abandoned the ODI series in 2008 during the Mumbai terror attacks, but they returned to play a Test series a month later.
“That is how it should be, India is our friend and we look up to them. We are there by their side when they need us, and it will be good if other countries are with us too in this period. Nothing can beat the power of love and harmony. I am hopeful that England will tour Bangladesh and won’t face any problem,” he added.
But the BCB will have to try their best to encourage England and Wales Cricket Board. Fans will not like to see another Pakistan.
Pakistan, since the attack on the Sri Lankan team bus in 2009 outside Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore, fell off the international venue radar.
Former Bangladesh cricketer Habibul Bashar, one of the most successful captains, believes that withdrawal from series will only make the terrorists’ intentions stronger.
“I deeply regret the occurrence outside the café in Dhaka. It is totally unacceptable. We aren’t barbarous, we love people, we aren’t killers. I beg people not to draw conclusions about our country by this act. Talking about cricket, one knows how the spectators and fans are, they worship the sport,” said Bashar, who played from 1995 to 2008 for ‘The Tigers’ (the nickname of the team).
Bangladesh beat India in the ICC World Cup in 2007 under Bashar’s captaincy and also won their first Test match against Zimbabwe in 2004.
“There have been so many major tournaments, like the Asia Cup, in Bangladesh. Nobody felt uncomfortable or complained about security,” added Bashar.
The 43-year-old urged nations to unite and fight the fear.
“Let’s not submit ourselves to terror,” he asserted.
Bangladesh achieved independence on the night of March 25, 1971 after the Liberation War. The then India Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi, openly referred to the nation as ‘Bangladesh’ in July 1971.
They started their cricket from 1979 but played their first ODI match in 1986 against Pakistan in Asia Cup. They hosted the tournament in five editions – 1988, 2000, 2012, 2014 and 2016 when the format was changed to Twenty20.
“We have been minnows and struggled our way up here. We can’t afford to back from where we started,” said Bashar.
Bangladesh have been producing quality cricketers like Shakib Al Hasan, Mustafizur Rahman, Mushfiqur Rahim and more; if there are no matches in their own backyard, they will fail to generate funds to look after their domestic structure and the world will miss out on such talents.
Both Shakib and Mustafizur are world class cricketers, who are seen in the cash-rich IPL. In fact, Mustafizur’s franchise – Sunrisers Hyderabad – won the title this season and he became a hero back home.
Cricket didn’t come easy to these boys, Mustafizur’s struggle involved travelling 40 kms from his hometown in Satkhira to the metropolis, for coaching.
On the other hand, Shakib often freelanced in local cricket matches to earn money. He played in different villages before donning the green jersey.
The world would want to see more of such talents, can you ignore them? The answer lies with you.