The world of cricket along with other sports has come to a standstill courtesy the corona virus. It may still take some time for cricket to resume in its full glory amidst the loyal fans in stadiums across the world. It appears 2020 is going to be a year of losses for cricket. However, there was one major gain: Bangladesh winning the ICC Under-19 World Cup.
It is indeed the best thing to have happened to world of cricket in 2020 simply because it raises hope that a new powerhouse of cricket could be on the rise. For far too long the Gentleman’s Game has been dominated by a select few. In the current scenario, things are very much dictated by the Big Three viz India, Australia and England.
It must be, however, mentioned that New Zealand is not very far behind. But a major reason for the dominance of the quartet is the falling standard of cricket among the rest of the cricket playing nations. The traditional biggies of world cricket like West Indies, South Africa, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka are currently in a rebuilding phase.
West Indies flattered to deceive
The West Indies may have won the ICC T20 World Cup in 2016 but since then they have flattered to deceive on most occasions. The 2019 ICC World Cup was no exception. Ironically, even today some of the most talented and colourful cricketers like Shai Hope and Sheldon Cottrell belong to the Caribbean ranks. The one thing missing was strong leadership.
Kieron Pollard, who took over the mantle not very long ago, is already showing a lot of promise in limited-overs cricket. Jason Holder is in charge of the team in Tests. Pollard has shown signs that he can be a guiding force to the supremely talented but temperamental Windies cricketers. But can Pollard deliver in the long run?
For South Africa problems are in plenty
As far as South African cricket is concerned the problems are in plenty. Be it the exodus of Proteas cricketers because of the Kolpak deal or racism rearing its ugly head in team selections every now and then. The whole controversy over whether AB de Villiers should return to international cricket or not also did not help.
There are reports doing the round that de Villiers may actually return to international cricket to play the ICC T20 World Cup scheduled to be played later this year provided it does not get postponed because of the Covid-19 pandemic. The allegations of corruption in the way of functioning of the CSA (Cricket South Africa) only aggravated things further.
In terms of performance on the pitch, the Proteas have hit a new low in the recent past. An exit in the preliminary stages of the 2019 ICC World Cup has been followed by a string of below-par performances; Faf du Plessis recently stepped down as the skipper of the South African team. and the young and talented Quinton de Kock being named named as a replacement.
The Proteas may have earned the unwanted tag of “chokers” because of their inability to win in the knockout stages of major tournaments far too often. But it is a fact that the Proteas have been one of the most consistent teams over the years and produced many legends of the game.
The biggest ray of hope for South African cricket is none other than Graeme Smith who currently heads the CSA (Cricket South Africa). He has done it in the past as the captain of the Proteas team. The question is whether he can bring back the glory days of South Africa as an administrator.
A new beginning altogether
Sri Lanka as a nation has utterly failed to produce world-class cricketers in the recent past. The case was different not so long ago. Ever since big names like Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene have retired, the island nation has been unable to fill in their shoes. Reports of deep-rooted corruption in Sri Lankan cricket keep surfacing every now and then.
All these have thwarted the progress of the game for long which has impacted the performance of the Lankans at the global stage. The ICC had to take some drastic steps to help stem the rot. The recent steps taken to strengthen the laws in the island nation against betting in cricket gives hope.
Taming the raw talent
Pakistan continues to be the most unpredictable team among the lot. This Asian powerhouse of cricket boasts off a lot of talent. Young and unheralded cricketers coming up from the lower levels of domestic cricket in Pakistan and making an impact at the highest level has been a recurring theme.
But somehow very few Pakistani youngsters go on to establish themselves as international cricketers of repute. Perhaps the PCB (Pakistan Cricket Board) needs to adopt a more careful approach in dealing with its raw talent. The likes of Babar Azam and Naseem Shah have already shown what they are capable of doing.
Assurance of a bright future
It is in this context when multiple questions confront the world of cricket, regarding the achievement of the Bangladeshi colts in winning the 2020 U19 World Cup, assumes significance. The achievement will undoubtedly inspire a generation of cricketers in Bangladesh to take up the game seriously.
At the same time, it comes as an assurance that a very talented bunch of young cricketers are ready to take over the mantle of the senior national team from Bangladeshi stalwarts like Shakib Al Hasan and Mushfiqur Rahim in the not so distant future. It is undoubtedly a heartening thing that the future stars of Bangladesh are world beaters at the under-19 level.
Bangladesh no longer a minnow
As a cricket playing nation, Bangladesh has been around for quite some time now. It achieved the status of a Test-playing nation in the year 2000. It had become a regular ICC member in 1997. After being considered as the minnows of world cricket for a significant period, Bangladesh cricketers in the past few years have started to stamp their authority.
Gone are the days when anybody could have taken Bangladesh for granted. The Tigers can now, on their day, beat any opposition. They have also come close to winning major ICC tournaments several times. The exploits of Akbar Ali and his boys can change the course of the history of cricket in Bangladesh and beyond.
Make no mistake winning the ICC Under-19 World Cup is itself a watershed moment. Cricket, as a game, is itself in a critical phase. There are already talks of the need to curtail the traditional Tests to four-day affairs. Besides, suggestions have been made to tweak the ODI format by splitting it into four innings.
The idea is to fine-tune the game so that it is remains in sync with the present times. Therefore, the win for Bangladesh could not have come at a better time. How often have we seen cricketers who impressed at the under-19 level later become stalwarts of the game? The names of Virat Kohli, Kane Williamson and Yuvraj Singh immediately come to mind.
So, it is not at all preposterous to suggest that success at this level can be emulated at the highest level of cricket as far as Bangladesh as a team is concerned. . So, instead of gloating over the losses faced by the world of cricket in 2020 fans can take heart from what the Tigers have done. It can be only good for world cricket in the long run.
~Written by Subhadeep Dutta
SportsInfo offers cricket, soccer, kabaddi, tennis, badminton, racing, basketball and other sports news, articles, videos, live coverage & live scores, player rankings & team rankings. Also, offers minute details of any match along with live commentary.
- New Zealand announce squad for Bangladesh ODIs, Tom Latham to lead
- Kane Williamson ruled out of Bangladesh ODI series after elbow injury
- Twitter Reactions: Kevin Pietersen blasts 42 off 17 as England Legends breeze past Bangladesh Legends
- Virender Sehwag and his patented approach to batting
- Team-wise current best bowler in ODI cricket