When Bangladesh take on England on Thursday in the opening encounter the upcoming edition of ICC Champions Trophy, it will be their first ever international fixture in this country after a gap of almost seven years. Last time Tigers toured England, back in 2010 to play two Tests and three One-Day Internationals (ODIs). Thus, most of the members of the current team, including the seniors, have limited experience of playing in this part of the world.
Keeping this in mind, the Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) has left no stone unturned to get their team prepared for this elite multi-team event, in which the Boys in Greens are making a comeback after a gap of 11 long years.
Bangladesh were the first team to arrive in the United Kingdom (UK), almost 40 days before the start of the main event and TamimIqbal, their premier batsman, who has Test average of 67 in this part of the world, feels this preparation phase has done a world of good for the boys and it has assembled the team for the big challenge ahead.
“We had a two weeks camp in Sussex. It was very lovely camp, we played two practice games. In this part [of the world], a lot of us haven’t toured, [especially] all youngsters. Even the seniors have come to England after 2010. So we wanted to get used to the weather and conditions. We did pretty well there [In the warm-up games in Sussex], Then we went to Ireland, which is slightly different conditions. We had a good tri-nation [Against Ireland and New Zealand] there. So, preparation-wise we are very much prepared, [we] just need to execute in the middle now,” Tamim told a small group of media persons on Monday, on the sidelines of his team’s practice session at the Oval.
Bangladesh had a pretty decent outing against Pakistan in their first official warm-up game of Champions Trophy and on Tuesday they will take on defending champions India.The Southpaw believes these warm-up fixtures against two top nations will be a more than handy to before the all-important fixture against England.
“We had a good practice game against Pakistan and then there is an important game tomorrow against India. So if we have a good game tomorrow as well, I hope we will be fully ready for the first match,” he mentioned.
Bangladesh currently ranked sixth in the ICC ODI team rankings and arguably the best Asian team after India in limited-overs’ format. According to Tamim this is a result of the immense hard work this team has done in past years and he also feels this edition of Champions Trophy is the best platform for Bangladesh to show the world what this team is capable of.
“The ranking didn’t come easy. We have to work really hard for it and all those hard works for last two-three years had paid off. That’s probably very good but to keep improving, this is probably the best tournament to show the world how good you are.”
Tamim also highlighted the importance of carrying on the good work and keep improving as a team to be a consistent unit at the international area.
“As a team, we have definitely come up a long way. We went through a lot of lost matches, hard works and a lot of criticisms as well. But last two, two and half years have been brilliant for Bangladesh cricket. [We are] Probably one of the most successful teams in the world in last two years. We just need to carry on those things, doing the right things and keep on improving. We know one thing for sure that we need to improve hell lot of a lot from now to get better, to be consistent in international cricket and to beat good teams like India, England and Pakistan [More frequently].”
He also added that with the improvement the team has made, the respect from the opposition has also gradually improved and Bangladesh fully deserve that respect.
“When you start winning games, the team is becoming a better cricket team, so people will notice you, people will respect you. We deserve the respect and we are getting that.”
Currently, in the race for the direct qualification for the 2019 World Cup, Bangladesh are ahead of former world champions like Pakistan and Sri Lanka and a good outing in Champions Trophy will sealed their spot. However, before heading towards the net to pad up for a batting session, the Bangladesh opener made it clear that the team is fully focused on doing well in this event, rather than thinking about those external factors like World Cup qualification.
“We are very close to qualifying. In the last series, we won against New Zealand and became the sixth [ranked] team in the world. See, those kinds of things are nice to [back of our mind], but when you are playing such a big tournament, you really don’t want to think about those rather than concentrating on winning games. So, that’s we are on concentrating now and we will try our best in these three matches to do something special for the nation.”
Along with the hosts England, Bangladesh are scheduled to lock horn against world Champions Australia and runners of last world cup, New Zealand in the group league of Champions Trophy.
It will be a stiff challenge to outclass these opponents, especially in the English conditions but with the kind of potential this Bangladesh team has, fans can pin their hopes on them.