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Bashar speaks up
6 June, 2007
Being removed as captain and still being in the team is a difficult proposition for any player. May be, its better than not being in the side at all.
Having successfully led the Bangladesh cricket team, Habibul Bashar finds it hard to accept that he is no longer captaining. He feels that it is harder to not being consulted about the Bangladesh Cricket Board's decision beforehand.
Hurt by the way he was treated by the BCB, the 34-year old -- who has been going through difficult times --says he got the news of his removal and subsequent appointment of Mohammed Ashraful as the Tigers captain for both versions of the game from a reporter over telephone while he was in India on a personal visit.
Under his captaincy Bangladesh won 29 out of 69 ODIs and have also experienced their maiden Test victory.
It was meant to be a good trip as he has been nominated for the prestigious Shera Bangali (Best Bengali) award for the year 2007 (by the 24-hour news channel STAR Ananda of India’s Kolkata) but understandably he couldn't enjoy it fully at the end.
"No doubt it takes some time to normalize with the change in situation, especially when I had the expectation of continuing as the Test skipper. But what shocked me most was the way I was treated by the authorities. I expected a call from a board official about the decision. Do you think the expectation was too high for me?" said an emotionally-choked Bashar, who returned home on Tuesday.
It seemed that the experienced campaigner was not only disappointed by the board's last move but he had also been under scrutiny since the World Cup in West Indies, with especially the comment of a high-up upsetting him the most.
There was a whispering that the board had wanted a one-day retirement announcement from him after the World Cup and his decision to just quit the one-day captaincy after the India series simply displeased most of the board members.
Bashar however was not ready to deal with the matter in a clear-cut way but what he did believe was that there was no scope for anybody to force a player into retirement.
"I think it's not fair for anybody to force a player to take a decision about his career. It surprised me the way people talked against me during the World Cup. True my performance was not good but as a team we ended on a high note. But everybody simply forgot that before the World Cup my performance was not bad. How can one write off a player just after one tournament," said a surprised Bashar.
"All those things put huge pressure on me and affected my performance in the last home series against India. I think the Mirpur Test is my biggest regret as a captain and I simply want to forget it though it is not too easy. It was a huge mistake to put the opponents into bat first. No doubt I should be blamed for that but everybody should understand that our coach (Dav Whatmore) was also highly convinced," said a disappointed Bashar.
But the right-hander, who retained his place in the 15-member Test side for the upcoming three-match series against Sri Lanka, was desperately trying to put aside all these negative issues to prolong his career as a batsman.
"My main objective is to be concentrate highly on my batting which was a little bit hampered by the captaincy role. I have never been a good fielder but I have improved a lot recently. I know I have to fight with the young players to keep my place in the side that's why I have to contribute as much as I can as a batsman," he observed.
Bashar heaped praises on newly appointed captain Mohammad Ashraful by branding his successor as a 'thinker'.
"We played together for the last seven years. Ash (Ashraful) is very good thinker. He is not only a natural talent but also thinks about the game. He follows the game minutely, which is not so common in his generation. Definitely I will give my best support to him but I hope everybody will have patience on him. He should be given enough time to establish himself as a skipper," hoped Bashar.
"I would request everybody not to cry about the word consistency," he said adding that he had tried not to be a "big boss" in the team -- a fact he termed as his real strength as a captain.