To many passionate followers of cricket world cup 2019, such an imaginative question seeking to find a common point between three remotely different teams might be bit intriguing, or even baffling.
India has by and large played a dominant cricket (at least by the counts of their victories, and ignoring their middle-order blues) and is comfortably placed in semi-finals. South Africa has played a thoroughly disappointing cricket unfitting of their status within the cricketing world.
Bangladesh has indeed played one of the most entertaining brands of cricket that have not only won hearts of their domestic fans but also many genuine cricket lovers all around the world, including batting maestro Sachin Tendulkar.
What can then be remotely familiar between these three teams, at this moment of their respective cricketing history?
To me, it is the sheer presence or absence of self-belief. Or the cricketing moments that had triggered unprecedented levels of self-belief, or again, precipitating a downward spiral of self-belief in their respective cricketing abilities.
As a reluctant cricket lover now, whose interest in cricket has primed in the late 1990s, and early 2000’s when the satellite television has just arrived in India and galvanised the mass interest in the game of cricket, I am genuinely concerned about Bangladesh cricket.
Make no mistake, I am impressed most by the Bangladesh brand of cricket in this world cup and had sincerely wanted to see them through to the semi-finals at least, if not ultimately winning the cup.
Their audacious, and almost Zen Buddha-like tranquil approach, while chasing 300 run plus targets, had won many hearts of cricket fans and experts from all around the world.
It’s another matter that they eventually failed to cross the line on most of the occasions but not before showing a glimpse of enthusiasm and passion of cricket that surges in their local streets back home, befitting of any other fellow Indian subcontinent team.
Undoubtedly, there is a special fondness, some time to a level of madness, for the game of cricket in the Indian subcontinent.
However, coming back to the concerns around Bangladesh’s brand of cricket, it’s my opinion that the team has reached to a level where it desperately needs a “take-off” that can radically transform their identity from being a cricketing minnow to a strong competitive leading cricket playing nation.
That take-off can only come from a victory of a major ICC tournament (ICC Champions trophy and ICC T-20 cups are the other two major ICC tournaments).
Indian cricket team had accomplished that take-off moment by winning the 1983 world cup.
The then Indian team riding on its captain’s unbelievable innings not only rewrote the script of the tournament and irreversibly transformed its identity from being a cricketing minnow to become a leading cricket playing nation, along with injecting an unparallel dose of “self-belief” within the cricketing nation that had ensured the successive generations of players to remain committed to the dream of winning at the world stage.
Unfortunately, South Africa, an otherwise cricketing powerhouse which has always been considered as one of the most competitive leading test playing nations, has never ever accomplished that “take-off” stage, thus potentially affecting their collective “self-belief” in their cricketing abilities.
Otherwise, nothing else explains their series of abysmal performances in the world cup 2019 where they are languishing at the second last level, only better than Afghanistan – another cricketing minnow that has shown some glimpse of passion and enthusiasm in their performances.
This collective failure of self-belief from this seemingly cricketing giant nation (South Africa) is a worrisome sign for the game of cricket in that nation and possibly for its ability to play international cricket at competitive levels befitting of leading test playing nations.
Bangladesh cricket team has been delivering some enthralling performances at a consistent level, for quite some time, priming at this latest world cup.
It is in the best interest of Bangladesh cricket, and to the satisfaction of their mad fan-base that will ensure a consistent supply of young players in the future, it is critical that Bangladesh accomplish something that can trigger “self-belief”.
Otherwise, strings of successive enthralling performances, which eventually fail to translate into significant victories, could gradually start seeping the levels of “self-belief” of even the greatest of the sporting teams.
And for the Bangladesh cricket team, and their vast domestic fan base, it is paramount that they “take-off,” and not fizzle out.
This is more relevant for the nations with relative infrastructure deficit, in comparison to more affluent countries, to sustain a collective interest in the sports that they are passionate about.
Self-belief is paramount!