The threat of the coronavirus is looming large over the general populace and people have become more aware of its threat as the pandemic takes shape in Bangladesh with five deaths reported so far.
As always, what opinion leaders say has a big impact on how our society comes to grips with the new reality of the threat. Yesterday, while grocery shopping, one buyer was heard saying to another: "Don't you understand? The war is fought by staying home as Mashrafe [Bin Mortaza] had said. Not by going out."
The words Mashrafe had posted on Facebook were clinging to people's minds and it showed that celebrities do have a role to play in helping the country. Mashrafe, who had only just stepped down from the ODI captaincy, is a beloved figure and even though all sporting activity is currently at a standstill, sports still have value because of the attention that celebrities, especially sports stars, can draw. With cricket currently the most popular sports in the country, it does not come as a surprise that the general populace listens to cricketers a lot more than policymakers or politicians.
To that end, the likes of Shakib Al Hasan, Mashrafe Bin Mortaza and Mushfiqur Rahim have been coming up with social media posts to call people to exercise self-isolation, quarantine and stay inside their own homes and practise social distancing.
The cricketers have also tried to financially contribute, each from their own position, just as the likes of Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo, who have helped out with efforts to treat patients in their part of the world. 27 of the Bangladesh national team players have decided to put in a concerted effort to raise money towards helping the movement against coronavirus by paying 50 percent of their monthly salary. Tamim Iqbal, the new ODI captain, who had said that he was going to focus on the team culture of the Tigers, was the instigator and gave the others the direction and impetus to donate.
The 17 players who are under the Bangladesh Cricket Board's (BCB's) central contract were joined by 10 others who played the recent series at home against Zimbabwe to gather Tk 25 lakh, after taxes, to donate to a government fund.
Tamim hoped their contribution, however small, would act as a catalyst in others stepping up from their own positions. "The sum we have gathered is small compared to the magnitude of our fight against coronavirus. But little droplets can create an ocean. Instead of focusing on criticism from all corners, we must take responsibility and do our bit and then we can win this fight," Tamim wrote on a Facebook post yesterday.
Tamim's idea and the cricketers' willingness to help out in this crisis, can galvanise the side and they in turn will be hoping that it can galvanise society in these tough times.