'A milestone in a long journey'
“It was… I think,” said Tamim Iqbal as he took a moment before continuing: “Five to six years back, we had a discussion about our future targets and we set our own goals, which was to grab the number five position in the ICC ODI rankings.”
“We then progressed as a team step by step. During that journey, some small steps, among other things, brought us to today's position. We climbed to the number six position in the rankings and we achieved it by our own rights. It is not a gift; we needed hard work to achieve it. We deserve this position,” said Tamim breathlessly as he spoke to The Daily Star over phone an hour before boarding the flight from Dublin to Birmingham.
The five-wicket victory over New Zealand in their last match of the tri-series in Ireland gave the Tigers a cushion in the rankings. If one looks solely at their performance since the ICC World Cup in 2015 in Australia-New Zealand when considering the Tigers' rise, Tamim would definitely oppose that kind of myopic view.
“It would be completely wrong if we think that everything started only two years back. You have to go at least six years back if you want to find the team's new journey. Our current coach [Chandika Hathurusingha] has been doing a wonderful job but our previous coaches have also contributed hugely to shape this team,” Tamim explained.
“But if you are being honest, you cannot just look at what happened in the last six years. What would have happened to our cricket if a generation failed to become champions in the ICC Trophy and failed to play the World Cup for the first time? Every generation had a great contribution. It was a long journey. It would be wrong to think that this current bunch of cricketers is achieving everything,” he continued.
However, what was achieved in Ireland is now in the past and so Tamim looks forward to their next big assignment, the ICC Champions Trophy, where they will face the likes of hosts England, Australia and New Zealand during the group matches.
“We had a target of becoming champions in the tri-series but we are satisfied with what we have done. Our overall performance was good and we almost fulfilled our goal here [Ireland] before the Champions Trophy. It is the best possible way of going into a big tournament like the Champions Trophy. You cannot expect anything better than the build-up we have had to an important tournament,” opined Tamim.
The left-handed opener also believes that it will be a different ball game during the ICC Champions Trophy: “It will be a different ball game. The conditions will be different than Ireland. But I have no doubt that our performance in the tri-series will help us a lot. We will need to adapt to the conditions as quickly as possible and it will be all about the execution in the middle.
“The highlights of the tri-series campaign were the performance of Mustafizur [Rahman], as he returned to his old form and it's a big plus point ahead of the Champions Trophy. Rubel [Hossain] was simply fantastic in his bowling and the batsmen scored runs,” added Tamim.
In the end, Tamim emphasised the importance of the 'team effort' that has brought them to this stage and hoped that it will continue to bring more good news in the future. Hence, why not in the ICC Champions Trophy?