Monday, 31 March 2008

BCB makes peace offering to Heera

Former national captain Shafiqul Haque Heera has been reunited with the Bangladesh Cricket Board in the capacity of national team manager, ending a year-long bitter relationship.
The BCB on Monday appointed him the manager operations of the national cricket team for one year effective from the upcoming tour of Pakistan, where Bangladesh will play five one-day matches and a Twenty20 international from April 8 to 20.
The former wicketkeeper was shown the door by the BCB last April after serving seven years as the deputy director of development and the venue director of the Mirpur Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium. He was one of the representatives of the BCB at the host submission meetings of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2011.
He was widely tipped for a return to the BCB as permanent manager of the national team prior to the home series against South Africa, but some officials blocked it mysteriously, souring his relationship with the cricket oversight body further.
Heera was interviewed for one post of permanent manager on January 13, but the BCB cancelled it on the pretext of having insufficient number of candidates. Only two candidates appeared for the post paving the way for the BCB to take the decision.
They instead appointed former national cricketer Omar Khaled Rumi as the manager for the South Africa and Ireland series. The former leg-spinner left the BCB red-faced by making an incoherent speech during the official dinner of the South Africa series that also made his future uncertain.
Heera was called back into the BCB on Monday for a renegotiation and after an hour-long meeting with Gazi Ashraf Hossain, the chairman cricket operations committee, his appointment was announced.
His one-year term also includes a tri-nation in Dhaka and the Asia Cup in June, Australia tour in September, home series against New Zealand in October, South Africa tour in November and the home series against Sri Lanka, Zimbabwe and West Indies up to April next year.
Its a new challenge for me. I will try to support the young team as well as the team management to the best of my ability, said Heera, who captained Bangladesh in the 1979 and 1982 ICC Trophy.
As the team operations manager my focus will be on overseeing that the practice sessions are well-organised and the players feel comfortable while traveling at home and away,said Heera.
This will be his sixth stint as the national manager as he held the post in different tournaments, home and away series since 1988. The last time he served as the national team manager was during the Zimbabwe and Kenya tour in 2006.

Thursday, 20 March 2008

Now it's a team rule!

Ireland cricket team stayed away from any practice yesterday despite going into the second game of the three-match series on the back of a huge eight-wicket defeat at the Mirpur Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium today.

The visitors already expressed their concern over the immense heat after their first match defeat at the same venue and as a result, avoided training in the morning to regain some energy.

Bangladesh captain Mohammad Ashraful also admitted that the sultry weather was a big issue behind Ireland's meek surrender in the opening match and they have to brave the heat first if they want to be competitive in the remaining games.

"I must say that they were very disciplined in all departments in the first match but the weather was terrible for them. But on their day they can be dangerous so there is no scope to be complacent only after one comfortable victory," observed Ashraful.

The Tigers presence in the practice at the Mirpur indoors yesterday also reflected the feeling of their skipper. Coach Jamie Siddons conducted a short training with his batsmen only even though his top-order showed some character in the first game.

Was this seriousness for next month's tour to Pakistan? "No. Our main focus is to win the series first. We are not thinking of Pakistan right now but the win against Ireland will definitely help us get back some confidence before another tough tour," responded Ashraful.

Bangladesh came up with a new term in their book, which is 'team rule'. And what they believe was that they failed to apply it during the last series against formidable South Africa but made use of it in the first game against Ireland on Tuesday.

"As per the team rule, only the first three batsmen can play shots freely, in other words, they can play over the top. But for the remaining batsmen, it is considered a crime, as they have to avoid any kind of risk.

"I followed it in the first game against Ireland and got the result. I believe we would be competitive against the top-ranked sides if we maintained this rule," Ashraful explained.

And that was the reason left-handed opener Tamim Iqbal and number three Aftab Ahmed were not blamed for their rushed shots in the first game.

"You can say we gave Tamim free license to play his natural game because of the rule," he said.

Chief selector Rafiqul Alam was also excited by the new method and he believed they will get some results if the players followed it religiously.

"The method (team's rule) was desperately needed against South Africa but it didn't happen. I am happy they at least followed it in the first game against Ireland. As much as we follow the rules, we will be more successful in the international cricket," said the former national player.

"I will be really happy if they maintain it in the remaining two games against Ireland," he added.

Wednesday, 19 March 2008

First ODI Win For Siddons

Bangladesh coach Jamie Siddons expressed satisfaction not just because the players gave him the first taste of victory in charge, but in the manner they defeated Ireland by eight wickets in the first one-day match at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium on Tuesday.
To me it is more important how we win. In the past I think we had been an entertaining side and it was more about entertaining the crowd than winning matches. I am sure if we win the match that will also entertain the crowd, Siddons said.
It was much more pleasing for me how we went about it. Winning and competing in the game is really important to me. If we won that game and not stuck to the team rules I would have been really upset, added the Australian.
I am trying to say for a week that South Africa is number one and we are the number nine. The difference is that we are now playing against number 10 side. So, everybody expected us to beat them on our home ground and I am happy that we did it.
The 43-year-old Australian however reminded that the job was not finished and there were still two matches to go in the series. On their day they can be a very dangerous side, so next time they will come as a better outfit and we should raise our game also, he said.
Siddons was particularly happy to see his captain and vice-captain performing in the same game, which could inspire the other players as well.
I think Ashraful had been working really very hard in the nets. Today he stuck to the team rules and the result and reward are out there. I think every time he does that he will have success, said Siddons.
Mashrafee bin Murtaza, who took 3-22 to win his seventh man-of-the-match award, the highest by any Bangladeshi cricketer (Mohammad Ashraful and Shahriar Nafees each won it six times), was equally praised by the coach.
We left him out for a few games, batted him at number 11 and tried to make him realise that he has to be a lot more disciplined, said Siddons.
Once again he was not bowling to the South African batsmen, he was bowling to the level of cricketers he is probably better than or as good as, Siddons added on the pace bowler.
Mashrafees 3-22 was his best 10-over bowling spell in terms of economy rate. His pervious best 10-over spell was against Kenya when he conceded 25 runs at Nairobi in 2006.
He bowled in the right areas, swung the ball. He opened the bowling, bowled in the middle of the innings and at the end of the innings, which he has not been able to do properly in the past. He is getting better, said Siddons.

Tigers Smash Irish Team

Opener Shahriar Nafees and skipper Mohammad Ashraful struck unbeaten half-centuries as Bangladesh crushed Ireland by eight wickets to end their 14-match losing streak in one-day cricket at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium on Tuesday.
After restricting Ireland to a modest 185-7, Bangladesh raced to 186-2 to go one up in the three-match series and in the process avenge their 74-run defeat in the last World Cup.
It was Bangladeshs first win since they defeated the Proteas in the Super Eights of the World Cup. Since then, they played three more games in the World Cup, two against India and three each against Sri Lanka, New Zealand and South Africa and lost all of them.
Shahriar was just 10 runs short of his fifth one-day century when he smashed the winning boundary off off-spinner Alex Cusack through mid-wicket with more than 10 overs to spare.
Shahriar, who did not score a half-century in his last 12 one-day matches since he made an unbeaten 104 against
Bermuda in February 2007, clubbed 11 boundaries for his 121-ball 90.
He shared an unbeaten 130-run partnership with Mohammad Ashraful, the eighth highest for Bangladesh in 170 one-day matches,
for the third wicket in 30.3 overs after the hosts lost the wickets of Tamim Iqbal and Aftab Ahmed.
Ashraful looked more circumspect on his way to 64 not out off 90 balls as he took 13 balls to get off the mark. The under-performing skipper cracked eight boundaries but never went for any airy-fairy shots that often brought about his downfall.
Ashraful came to the crease after fit-again Aftab Ahmed miscued a slower delivery to leave the hosts reeling at 56-2.
The Tigers lost Tamim (13), who lofted a catch at gully to William Porterfield after a promising start. The opening partnership fetched Bangladesh 25 runs in 5.4 overs.
Having won the toss Ireland got off to a sluggish start after man-of-the-match Mashrafee bin Murtaza maintained a probing line and length.
There were only two scoring shots in his opening spell that read 6-4-8-2.
Then the spinners reduced the Irish to 116-6 in 35 overs before a 64-run partner-
ship between Cusack and Johnston gave them some respectability.
Mashrafee dismissed Cusack (38) in the final over to take his third wicket. He could have added another had Tamim not missed a catch offered by the next batsman Langford-Smith two balls later.

Ashraful answers with the bat

The timing could not have been better for Bangladesh captain Mohammad Ashraful to return to form with a composed half-century against Ireland on Tuesday.
Ashraful was at the receiving end not just for his poor form and failure to lead the team from the front, but also for his off-the-field behaviour.
The Bangladesh captain did not just issue a public apology for his inexplicable behaviour he also invited his victim to the Bangladesh dressing room after practice on Monday to apologise in person.
Yet, that was not enough. Now the call was for him to respond with the bat and Ashraful readily obliged with an unbeaten 64 off 90 balls, guiding Bangladesh to an eight-wicket victory against the visitors.
It was just not an ordinary half-century for him against an associate member of the ICC, rather a symbol of application, patience and hunger for win. The middle-order batsman did not allow the Irish bowlers to create any kind of pressure on Bangladesh at any stage as he shared a match-winning 130-run stand with Shahriar Nafees.
Ashraful had every reason to feel hurt as some of the criticism directed at him went beyond the line and often he hardly got any respect he deserved for his past contributions from the critics.
His emotion was evident when he reluctantly raised his bat after reaching his fifty and also did not appear at the post-match press conference which was otherwise customary for captains.
I had no problem to face the press. Today I did not come initially because I was not told, Ashraful said later when he joined the press-conference with vice-captain Mashrafee bin Murtaza and coach Jamie Siddons belatedly.
Unlike a wining captain Ashraful looked gloomy and a pale shadow of his usual self. It was his first one-day victory as Bangladesh captain and also his first half-century at home in nearly two years (he last scored a fifty on home soil in February 2006 against Sri Lanka).
I did not feel any pressure on the field. Pressure was there definitely. But I never allowed it to suppress on me.
The bowlers did a good job for us. And then we had a good partnership with me and Shahriar. It released all the pressure, added Ashraful.
The plan was to stay at the crease. We knew that if could occupy the crease then the runs would come. There was nothing to be worried about, said Ashraful, who uncharacteristically took 13 balls to score his first run in the game.
I was just waiting for a loose ball. As long as I did not get it, I was not willing to offer any shot. Maybe it is the only reason for me to take time to get off the mark, he said.

Monday, 17 March 2008

Ashraful lashes out!

For better or worse, the fans have always stood by the national cricketers. But it seems even they have reached their breaking-point especially as the performance of the Tigers during the South Africa series hit new lows every time they took to the field.
Their frustration however boiled over on Sunday and caused beleaguered Bangladesh captain Mohammad Ashraful, who was on the receiving end during the Test and ODI whitewash against the Proteas, to finally snap and he lashed out at a fan at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium after he was jeered.
Witnesses said, fans, who were watching the Premier Twenty20 Cricket final in the gallery, started booing when they saw Ashraful walking past them through a narrow gate inside the stadium on his way to the adjacent indoor complex for net practice.
The Bangladesh captain kept put his gears on the stairs before jumping into the gallery and grabbing the fan by the scruff of the neck and slapped the poor fellow before anyone realised anything had happened. The fan was later identified as Jalal, a garments worker in Mirpur.
Police and the officials of the Bangladesh Cricket Board quickly intervened and took Ashraful away from the agitated fans. But it did not calm the situation as they started chanting slogans and demanded an unconditional apology from Ashraful.
Police immediately nabbed Jalal but were forced to release him to pacify the mob, who continued to agitate. Police however kept Jalals identity card. A guardian of Jalal rushed to the stadium hearing the news and apologised to Ashraful on his behalf. Jalal also said sorry later and promised not to boo the cricketer in future.
Ashraful particularly came under the wrath of the fans after scoring just 17 runs in three-match one-day series against South Africa that ended on February 14. Ashraful declined to comment on the incident.
Last week, vice-captain Mashrafee bin Murtaza was also involved in an altercation with a fan who had been watching him from the other side of the fence when he was bowling in the nets.

Sunday, 16 March 2008

Two Changes in Cricket squad For Ireland Series

The experiment with the Bangladesh cricket team seems to be continuing as the selectors made two changes in the national squad for the three-match one-day series against Ireland.
Surprisingly, two bowlers Syed Rasel and Mosharraf Hossain had to pay the price for the failures of the batsmen, who made a mess in the just-concluded three-match ODI series against South Africa.
Middle-order batsman Aftab Ahmed and all-rounder Mahmudullah Riyad replaced them in the 14-member squad announced on Saturday at a city hotel.
Aftab is one of our main batsmen in the middle-order. We could not include him against South Africa because of injury. Now he has been declared fit, so we recalled him, said chief selector Rafiqul Alam.
Instead of any under-performing batsmen, the selectors jettisoned medium pacer Rasel to make room for Aftab.
He (Aftab) is also a useful medium pacer, which we think can prove handy for Ireland. So we thought he can easily take the place of Rasel, said the chief selector.
The team has a certain gameplan for which we think there is no need to play three pacers. We already have Mashrafee (bin Murtaza) and Shahadat (Hosasin), he said.
We axed Mosharraf because he could not impress against South Africa. Riyad (Mahmudullah) came in his place, Rafiqul said.
Unlike Mosharraf he is an off-spinner, which we think will give our attack some variation. We also felt the need of an off-spinner as Ireland have seven left-handed players. He is also a better batsman, he added.
The three-match series will start with the first game on March 18 at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium. The remaining two matches will also be held at the same venue on March 20 and 22.
Squad: Mohammad Ashraful, Mashrafee bin Murtaza, Tamim Iqbal, Junaed Siddique, Aftab Ahmed, Nazimuddin, Shahriar Nafees, Sakib al Hasan, Dhiman Ghosh, Abdur Razzak, Shahadat Hossain, Mahmudullah Riyad, Farhad Reza and Roqibul Hassan.

Ireland arrive in Dhaka

Less than twelve hours after South Africa cricket team left Dhaka after whitewashing Bangladesh in both Test and one-day series, Ireland arrived in the city on Saturday to play three one-day matches against the hosts.
The 15-member Ireland team, led by all-rounder Trent Johnston, will play the first match of the series against Bangladesh at the Mirpur Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium on March 18.
Ireland are ranked just behind Bangladesh in the one-day charts and also defeated the Tigers in last years World Cup, which gave an added value to the series that has been deemed trivial otherwise.
We have come here to play good cricket and we are confident that we can do it. It would be nice if we can cause another upset like the World Cup, skipper Johnston told reporters at the airport.
We know the pitches will be low and slow here. But we are prepared for it. We have a couple of good spinners who can exploit the slow nature of the wicket. They also showed form in the last few weeks, he added.
The Ireland squad has only eight players Trent Johnston, Kyle McCallan, Andre Botha, David Langford-Smith, Eoin Morgan, Kevin OBrien, Niall OBrien and William Porterfield who played against Bangladesh in the World Cup.
Of them, Porterfield, the vice-captain of the side, was the architect of Irelands 74-run win over Bangladesh having scored 85 off 136 balls.
The Bangladesh Cricket Board will earn at least Tk 34 lakh from the series. Of the money, title sponsor Ispahani Mirzapore Tea will provide Tk 18 lakh while the rest of the amount will be coming from the fields perimeter billboards.
It was revealed at a press conference on Saturday. BCB members Shafiqur Rahman and Ishtiaque Ahmad and Mirza Ali Behrouze Ispahani, the chairman of Ispahani Group, spoke, among others, at the press conference.
Squad: Trent Johnston (captain), William Porterfield (vice-captain), Kyle McCallan, Kevin Brien, Niall OBrien, Andre Botha, Alex Cusack, Reinhardt Strydom, Thinus Fourie, Gary Kidd, Greg Thompson, Eoin Morgan, Paul Stirling, David Langford-Smith and Phil Eaglestone.

Saturday, 1 March 2008

Proteas take Control against Tigers

South Africa seized total control of the second Test after Bangladesh stumbled to 60-3 in the first innings replying to the visitors mammoth 583-7 declared at the end of the second days play at the Chittagong Divisional Stadium on Saturday.
Openers Tamim Iqbal (14) and Junaed Siddique (18) both returned to the dressing room and they were quickly followed by skipper Mohammad Ashraful, who went for a first-ball duck.
Dale Steyn took all three wickets to compound Bangladeshs woe and in the process became the quickest South African bowler to claim 100 wickets in Tests. Bangladeshs Mohammad Rafique also achieved the mark earlier with the ball playing in his final match.
At stumps, Shahriar Nafees was batting on seven while night-watchman Abdur Razzak successfully warded off more than three overs to remain unbeaten on eight. Razzak gave Bangladesh the biggest relief of the day, however, not with the bat but with the ball.
He gave Bangladesh the first breakthrough when Graeme Smith was clean bowled off his bowling shortly after the South African captain broke the world record of 413 in the opening stand, set by Indias Vinoo Mankad and Pankaj Roy 52 years ago, partnering with Neil McKenzie.
The duo added only two runs before Razzak separated them on 415. Hasim Amla and McKenzie added 99 runs for the second wicket to take South Africa out of Bangladeshs reach.
Shahadat Hossain struck after the lunch break to claim three wickets in three overs that included McKenize, who transformed his overnight 169 into a maiden double century, Hasim Amla (38) and AB De Villiers (1). McKenzie scored 226 runs off 388 balls clobbering 28 fours and three sixes. Sakib got rid of Ashwell Prince (2).
However, Jacques Kallis and Mark Boucher were still there, though they were having a difficult time in the middle.
Kallis was dropped on 38 by wicketkeeper Mushfiqur Rahim off Mohammad Rafique, who was still struggling to get a wicket. However, Boucher gave him the wicket two balls later when he drove the spinner to Sakib al Hasan at cover.
Two overs later Robin Peterson gave catch off Rafique which Junaed Siddique held after a slight deflection off the pads of Mushfiq. With the wicket of Peterson, Rafique fulfilled his dream of 100 Test wickets and South Africa did not wait further to declare.
And they looked quite happy at the end of the day.
We have got what we wanted to be in. Mission accomplished and we are happy with the position we are now in, said South African coach Mickey Arthur.
In the morning we were looking about to score 600 with an hour to go. We knew it was going to be a little bit difficult to score today. The pitch was lot more defensive than it was yesterday, he added.
I am very satisfied, obviously our middle order missed out today. But they played quiet well in Dhaka. So all our batsmen have had a go, said Arthur.