In Bangladesh cricket, there is never a shortage of captivating off-field stories. Following the trend, on the eve of the ICC’s World Cup squad announcement deadline, the Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) found itself at the center of a dramatic turn of events, with Tamim and Shakib playing pivotal roles.
Until Monday morning, September 25, 2023, the delay in squad announcement was attributed to the board’s deliberations on the backup opener and the number seven position in the team. However, an unexpected twist unfolded as renowned local media outlets in Bangladesh reported that Tamim Iqbal had informed the BCB about lingering pain from his previous injury. The potential for the pain to resurface, rendering him unavailable for certain matches.
You can also read: Tamim’s injury, Shakib’s ascension, and a missing piece: Deciphering the complex scene of Bangladesh Cricket
Tamim Iqbal’s exclusion from ICC World Cup roster
Nevertheless, after a series of dramatic developments, the Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) has revealed the 15-member squad for the ICC World Cup 2023. On September 26 night, the announcement was made through a social media video, showcasing Bangladesh’s World Cup jersey.
Shakib Al Hasan has been entrusted with the captaincy of the team for the World Cup, with Najmul Hossain Shanto serving as his deputy. Consequently, Litton Das has been relieved of his vice-captaincy duties.
However, it’s worth noting that veteran Tamim Iqbal has not secured a spot in Bangladesh’s World Cup squad, a decision that is sure to generate diverse opinions across the nation. Tamim, the highest run-scorer for Bangladesh in international cricket across all formats, has been struggling with a back injury.
A tale of uncertainty and last-minute decisions
According to reports, Tamim did not specify which or how many matches he intended to participate in. Rather, he simply conveyed to the team management that if they chose to include him in the World Cup, they would have to accept that they were selecting a player who was still in the dilemma of back injury. Ultimately, it was the BCB that made the difficult decision to exclude him from the squad.
This revelation came as a shock to both the BCB and the team management, leaving them in a quandary just before the squad announcement deadline. Consequently, BCB President Nazmul Hossain Papon called for an emergency meeting on Monday night, which was attended by Bangladesh’s ODI captain Shakib Al Hasan and head coach Chandika Hathurusingha at his residence.
Earlier, there were reports suggesting that Tamim was also present at this meeting. However, this was a media misunderstanding, as Shakib and Tamim were not both present together at the BCB President’s residence.
This story unfolds like a gripping soap opera, with new twists and turns emerging almost every hour. According to a report, an unnamed BCB official disclosed that Shakib had expressed a desire to step down as captain because he was opposed to the idea of including a half-fit player in the World Cup squad.
With Tamim now excluded from the squad, we may never know for certain whether these rumors were indeed accurate. However, according to reports, Nafees Iqbal, Tamim’s elder brother, has been removed from his role as Team Manager and will not be accompanying the team to India for the World Cup.
Tamim declares Board dispute a “Dirty Game”
In a video statement, Tamim characterized the situation pertaining in Bangladesh Cricket arena as “a dirty game,” shedding light on the inner turmoil that led to his decision.
Tamim recounted, “Someone called me from the highest echelons of the board, a figure deeply intertwined with our cricket. I was advised by him not to feature in the opening match against Afghanistan scheduled for October 7.” This revelation came to light through a video shared on his official Facebook account.
The shockwave of this proposition rippled through Tamim, who has carved out a remarkable 17-year career without deviating from his position as an opener. Feeling coerced and burdened by these unexpected demands, he voiced his frustration, saying, “I feel like I’m being pushed into unfamiliar territory, compelled to embrace unwarranted changes. I conveyed my stance, If these are your intentions, then please do not include me. I refuse to be embroiled in this mess. I want no part in this murky game. Every day, I find myself confronting something new, and I no longer wish to endure it.'”
Tamim’s decision came on the heels of his commendable performance, where he scored 44 runs in the second ODI against New Zealand on September 23, 2023. This marked his return to international cricket, having earlier rescinded his retirement decision made in July 2023. However, an injury setback had sidelined him, causing him to miss the Asia Cup held earlier this month.
Tamim vehemently denied the reports of his intent to play just five matches in the World Cup due to his persistent back injury. He asserted, “The medical department held the belief that if I rested and participated in the second warm-up match against England on October 2, 2023, I would have ample time to prepare for the inaugural World Cup match. I am confident that Chief Selector Minhajul Abedin would corroborate that I never communicated my intention to play only five matches in the World Cup.”
He concluded his message by extending his best wishes to the 15-man World Cup squad, expressing hope that they would achieve the anticipated success for Bangladesh. Tamim asked for everyone’s prayers and made a heartfelt request, “Please remember me. Don’t forget me.”
Shakib doesn’t hold back: Brands Tamim’s choice as ‘childish’ move
Bangladesh’s ODI captain, Shakib Al Hasan, has categorically denied having any discussions about the prospect of Tamim Iqbal batting in the middle order or sitting out during Bangladesh’s World Cup opener against Afghanistan.
Shakib asserted, “I didn’t have any discussion with anyone regarding this. I don’t know where it came from. But I am sure an authorized person told him that. There must have been a plan, and I don’t think it’s a bad thing to discuss beforehand.”
Shakib used the example of Rohit Sharma, who initially batted in the middle order and later achieved significant success as an opener, to illustrate his point that players should be willing to adapt to different positions for the team’s benefit. He suggested that Tamim should have considered batting in the middle order if there was a well-defined plan in place.
He expressed his disappointment with Tamim’s rejection of the proposal, describing it as “childish.” Shakib emphasized the importance of prioritizing the team’s interests over personal achievements and statistics.
Regarding his future plans, Shakib stated that he intends to retire from international cricket after the 2025 Champions Trophy. He also revealed plans to retire from T20Is after the T20 World Cup the following year and potentially retire from Test cricket after the World Cup.
Selectors grapple with press in squad revelation
The much-anticipated press conference to unveil Bangladesh’s World Cup squad also turned into a heated exchange between journalists and the selection panel. The 15-man squad, announced in a unique manner via a Facebook post where players showcased their jerseys and sought well-wishes from the nation, triggered a barrage of questions and speculation.
Chief selector Minhajul Abedin and his associates, Habibul Bashar and Abdur Razzaque, faced relentless questioning from journalists. Despite the intensity of the scrutiny, Minhajul remained composed, handling the press conference with the poise of a seasoned opener. His colleagues also had little to add as Minhajul fielded most of the inquiries.
Surprisingly, amidst the barrage of questions, none asked the most fundamental question: “What is your target in the World Cup?” This question was posed by a reporter as the press conference concluded.
“We aim to be champions, what else,” replied an ever-smiling Bashar, momentarily exuding confidence. However, he quickly tempered his statement, saying, “We will perform very well.”
Bashar expressed his belief in the team’s potential and emphasized their determination to compete at the highest level. “Many may perceive us as having a weak team, but I believe this is a very capable side. Regardless of the results, which are hard to predict, we will give every team a tough challenge,” he asserted.
Minhajul concluded the press conference with optimism, expressing full support for the 15 players selected to represent Bangladesh. He called upon the nation to rally behind the team and discouraged negative thinking, urging everyone to support the squad wholeheartedly.
Mushfiqur and Mahmudullah stand as old guards
On a more positive note, another experienced campaigner, Mahmudullah Riyad, secured his place in the squad by providing a calm and steady presence in the middle order during the New Zealand series.
In addition to Mahmudullah, the Bangladesh squad features two other seasoned veterans: skipper Shakib Al Hasan and Mushfiqur Rahim. Additionally, another promising young talent, Tawhid Hridoy, will continue to play a crucial role as a key batsman in this highly anticipated tournament.
Shakib Al Hasan (Captain), Litton Das, Tanzid Hasan Tamim, Najmul Hossain Shanto (Vice Captain), Tawhid Hridoy, Mushfiqur Rahim, Mahmudullah Riyad, Mehidy Hasan Miraz, Nasum Ahmed, Mahedi Hasan, Taskin Ahmed, Mustafizur Rahman, Hasan Mahmud, Shoriful Islam, Tanzim Hasan Sakib