In the lead-up to the 2019 World Cup, we take a look back on World Cups past through the eyes of Bangladesh’s former World Cup stars. Javed Omar is the only Bangladeshi player to have carried his bat through an entire innings in both Tests and ODIs. He remained unbeaten on 33 in an ODI against Zimbabwe in 2001 and also became the third player in the history of Test cricket to have carried his bat throughout on debut against the same opposition later that year. The 42-year-old, whose inclusion in the national team was always in doubt when it came to the ODI format due to his sloth-like batting approach, shared some of his memories of the World Cup in an interview with The Daily Star’s Nabid Yeasin.
The Daily Star (TDS): How did it feel to be in the 2007 World Cup?
Javed Omar (JO): To get called up for the squad in 2007 was one of the best things that happened to me in my life. The reason behind this is that in the 1999 World Cup, I was almost a certain pick but unfortunately I ended up as a standby. I was a standby again in the 2003 World Cup. From there to play a World Cup in 2007, about 12 years later, was almost near impossible for me. So getting selected and playing in the 2007 edition was a very emotional matter for me. If otherwise, for a player like me who has played a lot of Tests and around 60 or 70 ODIs for my country, not playing in a World Cup would have left a void in my career and my life. So it was a very important thing in my life.
TDS: What is your most memorable World Cup experience?
JO: For me it would be the match against India in 2007. Although I did not play the match as I was the 12th man in the game, it was most memorable for me. The funny thing is that I would only be able to play in the World Cup if Bangladesh qualified for the second round as I was only the third opener after the opening pair of Tamim [Iqbal] and Shahriar Nafees. It was March 17, the day we beat India, and after that the second round was almost confirmed for us as even if we lost against Sri Lanka, we would make it through if we could beat Bermuda. So beating India -- although I did not play that game -- was the most memorable experience for me in the World Cup as Bangladesh played really well and also because of the fact that my son was born on the same day.
TDS: What is your view on the current Bangladesh World Cup squad?
JO: There is no doubt that this is a very experienced side. If we consider Bangladesh’s history then we can see that at least six of the players of this squad are highly experienced with each cricketer playing around 150-200 matches. In our time, the players in the World Cup squad were not as experienced since most players had played about 10-12 games while the most experienced players in the squad were the ones who played about 30-40 matches. So for this reason I am very hopeful for this World Cup. However, there are two things that Bangladesh needs to keep in mind. One is that it is a long tournament and the players need to perform consistently. Bangladesh will be playing against all the other nine teams so it will be of utmost importance to perform consistently. The other thing is that the players need to keep themselves fit. Only after assuring these two things can Bangladesh go to a level like the semifinals or even final. It is needless to say that this will be a very tough World Cup for Bangladesh mostly because of the format but I am hopeful.
TDS: Which squad do you think is better, the one you played with in 2007 or this current World Cup squad?
JO: You cannot compare the two teams but I think that team [the team of 2007] was a balanced side. For example, Mashrafe [Bin Mortaza] and Tapash Baisya were in the pace attack alongside a slow medium left-arm bowler in Sayed Rasel. Meanwhile, the spin department had a very experienced campaigner in Mohammad Rafique alongside an averagely experienced left-arm spinner Abdur Razzak. Again in batting there were raw talents like Tamim and Shakib [Al Hasan]. So I think, considering everything, that that team was the best Bangladesh team in any World Cup.
TDS: Do you have a message for Mashrafe and Co.?
JO: My message to all of them would be to play as per their abilities and to not try to do anything extra. These players are really champion material and I think they will do well if they play in a relaxed mood and do not take any unnecessary pressure.