ICC World Cup and our expectations
In his book titled The Tao of Cricket (2000), Ashis Nandy wrote that "cricket is an Indian game accidentally discovered by the English." His remarks refer to the passion and emotion demonstrated by the spectators of the game in the cricket-playing nations of South Asia such as Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and, most recently, Afghanistan. In order to claim cricket as their own game, the English were conventional in celebrating the ICC World Cup 2019 inauguration ceremony, where they displayed their national symbol and pride—their monarch Queen Elizabeth II, as well as the Buckingham Palace, instead of common festive features such as singing, dancing and so on.
Queen Elizabeth II is not only a source of British pride but also the monarch of 53 Commonwealth countries. Interestingly, among the 10 participating teams in the ICC World Cup 2019, nine are from Commonwealth countries, Afghanistan being the only exception. Therefore, although the English inauguration ceremony has been criticised by many for its failure to meet their expectations, most of the captains were excited to meet the Queen, and the one-hour ceremony has reminded us to take things slow because there is still one-and-a-half-month left to party.
Like other team sports, cricket is a game of stamina, skills and strategy. One of the most significant differences between cricket and other team sports is that it is highly influenced by the environment, such as the condition of the soil and the weather. As soil and weather vary from one country to another, we can see that the conditions of the cricket pitches also vary across different countries. Cricket is perhaps the only game determined by the weather. Therefore, it could more likely be that we will see cricket matches being easily abandoned because of the rain, in compliance with a rule called the Duckworth-Lewis method in one-day cricket matches.
As weather plays a critical role in cricket, it would be important to know the weather forecast during this one-and-a-half-month event. With the start of British summer this week, BBC Weather's Monthly Outlook suggests that "low pressure is expected to be the main weather feature until mid-June, keeping things a bit cooler than average and more unsettled." Due to the unpredictable nature of British weather, it is presumed that rain will interrupt some of the cricket matches during this World Cup, which will dishearten many. As a result, many people question why cricket stadiums do not have a roof to cover them from the rain. One of the obvious answers to the question is that cricket would lose some of its characteristics, such as the impact of weather on the game, in a covered stadium.
Thanks to their skills and strategy, the Indian cricket team has been praised by cricket veterans over the years, and the country has become a hub for professional cricketers and fans from all over the world. With the Indian Premier League (IPL), Indian cricket has evolved dramatically over the last decade to reach a new dimension. The success of the IPL would not have been possible without the help of the media.
In an article titled "Television and the Transformation of Sport," published in 2009, Prof Garry Whannel identified that sport plays a significant part in the growth of television and helps television yield its revenues from commercial sponsorships, presentations, and cultural forms in the age of new media. This just might be the case in India—reports from the Times of India in 2017 showed that the media giant Star India won IPL media rights worth 16347.50 crore rupees for the period between 2018 and 2022.
The popularity of Indian cricket, however, has been overshadowed to some extent by the current no. 1 position in ODI rankings and recent performance of the English cricket team, meaning that the English team is now favourite in the current World Cup. Ever since the first ball started rolling at The Oval, the bookmakers' top three favourites are England, India and Australia respectively, and the three least favourites are Afghanistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh respectively. The Bangladeshi squad remains in the bottom three, ahead of Sri Lanka and Afghanistan. Ross Clarke reported in The Guardian on May 30, 2019 that the rationale behind establishing the Bangladeshi squad as one of the least favourite choices is because the team lacks the strength needed to compete for a place in the semi-finals, although there are talented bowlers like Mustafizur Rahman.
In making Bangladesh one of the least favourite squads, some of the cricket commentators including former New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum have failed to realise that Bangladesh team includes the number one ODI all-rounder Shakib Al Hasan, along with the talented Mushfiqur Rahim, Tamim Iqbal, Soumya Sarkar, and Mahmudullah Riyad, who can become game-changers at any stage. Besides, Bangladesh has a charismatic captain, Mashrafe Bin Mortaza, who is not only inspiring for his team members but also strategically challenging for many opponents.
As a devoted supporter of the Bangladeshi team, I believe that our cricketers have the skills and experience required to beat top-ranked teams like India and England, which has been proven many times before. Over the years, we have built our expectations through analysing the performance of the Bangladeshi team at big events such as the ICC World Cup. Evidence shows that the Bangladeshi cricket team won over Scotland and Pakistan in 1999, played with pride during the Super Eight Stage in 2007 and performed very well in the 2015 quarter final. In terms of our history with winning, our current cricket team is more experienced than ever and has the potential for creating ample opportunities to reach the semi-final stage in this World Cup. Because of this, our expectation of seeing the Bangladeshi cricket team in the semi-finals is quite realistic.
Therefore, we as Bangladeshi cricket supporters expect more from our team and want them to reach the semi-finals. In response to our expectations, Bangladeshi skipper Mashrafe Bin Mortaza warned us to control our whimsical wishes. However, because of the glorious uncertainty in the game of cricket, we are eagerly waiting for an unexpected outcome, such as a win at the ICC World Cup 2019. As spectators, we have the complete right to wish for this and we hope that these wishes, contrary to what Mashrafe indicated, will not turn into a pressure or burden for our cricketers.
Mohammad Omar Faruk is a human resource consultant based in London. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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