‘Go and check the stats’
The Daily Star (DS): Has there been a change of attitude overall in terms of playing shots or is that just in the Test format as we witnessed during the last Sri Lanka series?
Tamim Iqbal (TI): I always like to play my shots no matter which format I am playing. But in Test cricket when you play shots you get great value out of it considering the fielding positions because you get a lot of gaps. In ODIs or T20s, you will find a lot of players in the circle. Normally my mindset is always the same but at the same time, you have to realise which format and which role I am playing. Normally I set that by judging the pitch. Whenever I see there is grass or movement on the surface, I try to attack. I know there will be one good ball where a batsman can get out so I always try to be positive and if I am able to score a few boundaries, the opposition is forced into the back seat. Before the series, I spoke to the coach and said that I wanted to play positive because I anticipated what sort of pitch they might prepare. But it can also happen that I might get out early with that approach and when it works out, it helps me and my team. I think I should have scored more runs but whatever I did I enjoyed my batting.
DS: It must have been a horrible feeling being dismissed in the nineties in two consecutive Test matches in Sri Lanka...
TI: I was more disappointed in the first Test, which I thought was a very good wicket. I had done all the hard work in the first hour or so and after that there was hardly anything for the bowlers. It wasn't just about missing the hundred, what was even more disappointing is that if I kept on batting I could have scored more runs for my team. The 90 in the second Test was a bit different because the moment I went to the pitch, the ball started spinning. But what I always like to point out is the best batsman of the opposition scored somewhere near 430 runs and the best Bangladesh batsman of that series scored 280 runs. In my opinion that 150 run difference between the two batsmen made a huge difference, this is what I feel.
DS: You went past 50 six times in your last 14 Test innings but were unable to convert one into a hundred. It's similar in ODIs, where you scored three fifties in your last six innings without converting any into a hundred. Do you regret it or that your tally of hundreds could have gone past 15?
TI: Maybe even more than 15 (smiles). If you combine both Tests and ODIs, I think I missed a lot of chances. But I have to admit it was my fault in the majority of the cases while there were some where I got out to good balls. As I said, I can't do anything apart from regretting. But if I keep on thinking about it, that's not good for me. Maybe by the end of my career, I will regret missing out on those hundreds but the good thing is I am still playing and if the opportunity comes I will try to get that next time. This is not a record I am proud of.
DS: Despite being around for a while, the likes of Soumya Sarkar, Liton Das and Najmul Hossain are yet to find consistency. Being a senior player, how do you assess their mental attributes?
TI: To be honest I have seen very positives things from Liton, Shanto and others. They try to do better and they come up to me and other senior players and learn. Shanto batted brilliantly in the first test and he did get 160. Yes, he failed after that but we all tend to forget that hundred and we should appreciate that rather than putting players in the firing line all the time. Once they get appreciated, they will get confidence. I am sure if you go and ask them even they have high hopes.
DS: As the ODI captain, what is your plan for the upcoming home series against Sri Lanka?
TI: We are not going to play many matches of the ODI Super League before the World Cup. We are probably only going to play two home series. So we definitely want to take the home advantage and gain as many points as possible because it is always difficult playing abroad. We believe we are strong in ODIs, especially at home, so its a great chance to gain confidence as well.
DS: Are you going to change your batting approach in the ODI format?
TI: Alhamdulillah I have been very successful the way I have been batting in ODIs; not just in the last year but in the past five-six years. I am very happy with the way I have been batting in ODIs and I don't think I have to change much. Yes, there is always room for improvement and you have to keep on working hard. Normally when I get a big score it definitely helps the team win. I have a set plan and I would like to continue in that manner.
DS: Does it irk you when people question your strike rate or technique?
TI: I cannot please everyone. My team, players and coaches know what value I add to the team with the way I bat. For those who research and criticise, the only thing I can tell them is to go and see the stats. I don't need to answer much.