Joy, re­lief in Bangladesh af­ter Eng­land series

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

Bangladesh heaved a sigh of re­lief yes­ter­day af­ter suc­cess­fully host­ing Eng­land’s crick­eters for a month-long series de­spite se­cu­rity fears, hop­ing their grip­ping bat­tle would per­suade other teams to fol­low suit.

The tour was plunged into doubt af­ter five Is­lamist gun­men at­tacked a restau­rant in Dhaka in July, killing 18 for­eign­ers, with Eng­land’s limited overs cap­tain Eoin Mor­gan among those who ul­ti­mately stayed at home.

But af­ter be­ing promised se­cu­rity mea­sures more usu­ally ac­corded to heads of state, the bulk of Eng­land’s play­ers did agree to travel and played their part in a nail-biting con­test that fluc­tu­ated wildly at times.

Af­ter Bangladesh pulled off a 108-run vic­tory in the sec­ond and fi­nal Test in Dhaka on Sun­day to level the series, Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) chief ex­ec­u­tive Niza­mud­din Chowd­hury beamed with joy.

“We’ve done ev­ery­thing pos­si­ble to make the tour suc­cess­ful and it was a huge, a huge suc­cess,” Chowd­hury told AFP. “A sense of great com­fort and re­lief is pre­vail­ing ev­ery­where.” The Bangladesh board, which has long strug­gled to per­suade teams to travel to what is Test cricket’s new­est na­tion, was dealt a ma­jor blow last year when Aus­tralia scrapped a planned tour at the last minute on safety grounds.

The BCB was wary that a ma­jor se­cu­rity in­ci­dent in­volv­ing Eng­land could con­demn it to the same fate of Pak­istan, which hasn’t hosted a ma­jor Test team since an at­tack on the Sri Lankan bus dur­ing a match in Lahore in 2009.

Niza­mud­din said he hoped the Aus­tralian board-whose chief se­cu­rity of­fi­cer Sean Car­roll vis­ited Bangladesh last week to wit­ness the mea­sures pro­vided for Eng­land-would be per­suaded that Bangladesh was a safe venue.

“It was a big chal­lenge for us to host this event suc­cess­fully on the field and off the field. And we think we have done that. We have been praised by the Eng­land cricket board, their play­ers and of­fi­cials,” Niza­mud­din said.

“Given the cir­cum­stances there could not have been a bet­ter series on and off the field. It’s a clear mes­sage to the rest of the world that Bangladesh is an ab­so­lutely per­fect venue for host­ing any in­ter­na­tional event.” The first of the two matches, which Eng­land nar­rowly won by 22 runs, was Bangladesh’s first Test in nearly 15 months. While Aus­tralia’s re­fusal to tour par­tially ex­plains the dearth of Tests, the big­ger prob­lem has been Bangladesh’s poor record since gain­ing Test match sta­tus 16 years ago. Their vic­tory in the sec­ond Test was only their eighth in 95 con­tests-and the first against a full-strength side from a ma­jor coun­try. Be­fore the match, skip­per Mush­fiqur Rahim had pleaded for more teams to play Bangladesh, say­ing that the only way they would would im­prove would be if they could get more games un­der their belt.

It was a point echoed yes­ter­day by Mo­ham­mad Ashra­ful, one of Rahim’s pre­de­ces­sors who just re­turned to do­mes­tic cricket af­ter serv­ing a three-year ban for match fix­ing.

“We need more Test matches to im­prove,” Ashra­ful told AFP, say­ing the series proved that Bangladesh could now com­pete against the best. “I just hope our play­ers will get this op­por­tu­nity and they de­serve it.” Even though the de­feat will have dented the mood in the Eng­land camp ahead of their ea­gerly-awaited tour of In­dia, Bangladesh fans were swift to praise skip­per Alas­tair Cook and his team for mak­ing the trip. Af­ter watch­ing a pre­ced­ing ODI series from the side­lines, Cook flew back to Bangladesh for the first Test only days af­ter the birth of his sec­ond child back in Eng­land. Writ­ing on Face­book, Bangladesh fan Ra­jib Hasan hailed Cook for agree­ing to re­turn to the fray even it meant he only had “his baby in his arms for a cou­ple of min­utes”. — AFP

SHAR­JAH: Pak­istani crick­eter You­nis Khan (L) drops a catch off West Indies’ bats­man Shane Dowrich (R) as wick­et­keeper Sar­fraz Ahmed (C) looks on on the sec­ond day of the third and fi­nal Test be­tween Pak­istan and the West Indies at the Shar­jah Cricket Sta­dium in Shar­jah yes­ter­day. —AFP

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