Roquibul Hassan, the first captain of the national cricket team, believes that cricketers have to illustrate the beauty of Test cricket in order to attract fans.
While raising questions about a lack of Test culture following a humiliating defeat 2-0 series defeat to the West Indies, Test captain Shakib Al Hasan pointed out that there was a lack of interest among fans in longer-version cricket in Bangladesh.
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Roquibul admitted that Bangladesh were yet to make strides in terms of organising competitive first-class competitions. But he admitted that, despite all the shortcomings, players like Shakib Al Hasan and Tamim Iqbal could not defend the Test team’s poor recent performances.
“People worship beauty and that applies to cricket as well. Unfortunately, our demonstration of cricket is very ugly. Why would I go to the field to watch an ugly display of cricket? When you play well, win games regularly, fight in tough situations, only then will there be spectators.
“I know we have lot of limitations in terms of first-class infrastructure, it’s especially frustrating that we are yet to form regional cricket associations. But you have to keep in mind that players are the main stakeholders of the game and they have to take the responsibility to make Test cricket beautiful. Only players can make Tests or longer-version cricket beautiful,” Roquibul said.
He added that after 22 years of Test cricket, we cannot only blame infrastructure because there have are numerous instances in sporting history of players overcoming adversities and becoming world-class athletes.
“The way Tamim [Iqbal] and Shakib [Al Hasan] played some of the shots that got them out, sometimes I wonder how they have scored 5,000 runs,” the former skipper questioned.
“Not many are interested in Test cricket in our country, but in other countries they have many fans. Why? Because if I go to watch our games, I know the result already. Bangladesh will lose anyway. So why should I go and watch that game?” he said.
He also questioned the logic of the recent discussions about the lack of Test culture in the country.
“I am unable to understand what those who talk about cricket culture actually mean. If they are trying to say that it’s due to a lack of participation Tests and that’s why they are unable to perform well, that’s different. But the way people are talking about the absence of spectators in the longer-version leading to this scenario, I disagree. Our players do not have the skills, temperament or patience to ensure the presence of the crowd,” he explained. “I think it was better not to drag this issue after 20 years,” he added.
However, Roquibul agreed with what Shakib said about creating a system. He believes there is no alternative to making a competitive first-class competition in order to get skillful Test players.
“Back in our days, when we started to play regularly after Independence, all of our games were longer-versions. If you talk about the culture of longer-version cricket, I will say that there is a huge gap here and it’s not the way it once was, that’s the first thing.
“Then you have to make it competitive. You can’t play just for the sake of playing. We’ve been hearing for many years about ‘regional cricket associations’. They sat for meetings, but the outcome is unknown. To make these tournaments competitive, you have to rely on them [regional bodies]. Unfortunately, reality is different. Teams are organised centrally from Dhaka and there is a practice of nepotism.
“We can make longer-version cricket with top Premier Division Cricket League teams because top players play there. We must think ‘outside the box’. We don’t have time for cliched traditional words,” he continued.
Roquibul also thought it was suicidal to complete a national league tournament inside a month.
“There have been huge technological advancements in cricket. You cannot hide and there is no scope for mercy now. So, you have to be smart enough to deal with modern cricket. You cannot stick to cliches of ‘we have no culture,” he ended.