Down with David Hookes
On July 10, 2003, I came across a small report headed by the words, "Hookes blasts Bangladesh", in The Daily Star Sport page. I couldn't prevent myself from reading the report and finding out what this man had to say. I do keep track of cricket news but to tell you the truth, I really didn't know much about David Hookes other than the fact that he coached "Victoria" in Australian domestic cricket.
In the report, Hookes called on Steve Waugh's Australia to humiliate Bangladesh in the two tests they would play against them. "Steve Waugh should send them in to bat, bowl them out before lunch, bat until tea and declare, then send them back in and roll them again before stumps. It could be all over and done with in a day. The reality is that Bangladesh doesn't deserve to be in Test cricket and they certainly shouldn't be given any favors but on the field." These were the words of Hookes.
Till the test series at Australia, Bangladesh had lost
18 of their 19 tests since their debut in 2000, salvaging a draw against
Zimbabwe two years ago when rain intervened.
However the best of the complements were yet to come, when after the match, Steve Waugh said, "Bangladesh won't realize how much they've improved until they play someone else after this series because I think there's been massive improvement in all facets of their game and I think they'll be very competitive after this. There's no way you'll find Bangladesh losing regularly after this- they'll have a lot of self-belief." In another interview, he added that the Bangladesh cricket team was better than Pakistan and West Indies in a few departments. I think all of us back here in Bangladesh felt extremely proud after hearing Steve's analysis.
The Test Series at Pakistan was going to be an "acid test" for our team. We had a chance to show the cricketing world what we were made of and live up to what Steve had said.
As I sit down to write this article it's only been a couple of hours Bangladesh has lost its third and final test match against Pakistan by a single wicket. Now when I look back at the game….I don't know….if Rafiq hadn't knocked over the bails, we might have faced a very different reality. Athar Ali's words keep on repeating itself in my head, "So close yet so far". There's no other way to describe it Athar Bhai. You are so right.
Yes, we have lost the series three nil, but it doesn't
show what progress our team has made in the last few months. We showed
a significant improvement in our game during the first test, smelt victory
in the second and in the third, "victory" was in our hands
till the last moment when snatched away. Lots can be said on this issue
on how our victory was "snatched away". I'm not afraid to
admit that I find it hard to accept our defeat. The umpiring during
the whole series was below international standards. In the third test,
umpires Russell Tiffin and Ashoka De Silva undertook a racist attitude
towards our team. Let me explain. Two incidents are crowding in my mind.
The first happened when the Mr. Tiffin warned Rafiq about excessive
appealing. Well, what on earth are we supposed to do when you don't
give plum LBWs out again and again, go mute…
I think I've made it very clear in an article I wrote in the past, "Cricket affairs sensitive issues", that I am not a big fan of the Pakistan cricket team. Well, my feelings for them haven't grown, especially after what Rashid Latif did. Rashid had a good reputation till now of being an honest cricketer. That went down the drain when he took a catch dropped it, picked it up from the ground and claimed to have caught it. The umpires somehow missed the whole happening. I was even more surprised when Aamir Sohail and Rameez Raja continuously tried to protect the Pakistani Captain, saying the catch was clean. How can you be so blind and biased?
It's better if I didn't mention the lack of hospitality in Pakistan. When flying to Multan, the Pakistani Team flew in the "Business Class" while we flew in "Economy". As for Inzamam, you played one of the greatest test innings ever played, but complaining to the umpire when Pilot wanted to talk to you was very unnecessary. We are your guests and also happen to be the underdogs. A public display of how uncultured you are, was not required.
Now coming to what David Hookes said. We were given the Test Status three years ago for several reasons. We had an improving infrastructure for cricket and the authorities were convinced Bangladesh would produce players of international standard if given the appropriate time. People in Bangladesh have a special place for cricket in their hearts. They happen to be very sportive crowds unlike the ones you get in India and Pakistan who throw bottles at every decision that goes against you. It's true that we didn't perform up to the mark in recent times but neither did we have a proper coach and an incentive to play well. We have both now and look at what we've given you. "Entertaining cricket" and improvements that can't be overlooked. Habibul Bashar was the highest run scorer while Rafiq took the highest number of wickets in the test series against pakistan. A lot of people think that Kenya should have received the Test Status instead of Bangladesh. Well, does Kenya have any of the things Bangladesh has at the moment? Starting from infrastructure to passion to players of international quality? Steve Tikolo. Yes, he's good. But has he performed as consistently as Bashar?
I don't understand why critiques are after our team. India took 25 tests for their first win while New Zealand took 45. I'd ask the outspoken David Hookes to shut his mouth and stop trying to attract attention. If you want us to play quality cricket, we need to be given time. We are only on our 24th test. Our first victory isn't very far away and when that day comes we'll know whose pictures to burn. But then again, I doubt if we find a picture of yours, since back here, hardly anyone knows you.
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