Bangladesh’s cricket fans, players and organisers woke up on Monday with a sense of accomplishment after the country successfully hosted England for a month-long series despite a massive security fear in the wake of deadly terror attack.
They were doubly happy after the hosts posted their first Test victory against England, sending a signal to other top Test nations who were otherwise not keen to play against the perennial underachievers.
‘We’ve done everything possible to make the tour successful,’ Bangladesh Cricket Board chief executive officer Nizamuddin Chowdhury reflected on the series.
‘And it was a huge success. A sense of great comfort and relief is prevailing everywhere,’ he added.
The tour was thrown into doubt after extremists with alleged links with the Islamic State group attacked a restaurant in Dhaka’s posh area Gulshan in July killing 22 people, mostly foreign hostages.
England agreed to go ahead with the tour only after it was cleared by their highly regarded security chief Reg Dickason, who led an inspection team in Bangladesh prior to the visit.
England’s regular one-day international captain Eoin Morgan and batsman Alex Hales took the option given to them by England and Wales Cricket Board to stay out of the series.
But other regular players, including Test captain Alastair Cook, joined the tour party to produce some entertaining cricket in both ODI and Test series.
England won the three-match ODI series 2-1 after tough competition provided by the home side but they had to remain satisfied with 1-1 draw in the evenly contested two-Test series.
Bangladesh lost the opening Test narrowly by 22 runs but turned the table in the second Test to eke out 108-run win, their first Test victory against a full-strength major cricketing nation.
‘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 England cricket board, their players and officials,’ Nizamuddin said.
Bangladesh was grappling with security issues even before the attack in Dhaka restaurant as Australia refused to send their Test team for a series in October last year.
Australia also pulled out from the Under-19 World Cup hosted by Bangladesh earlier this year, citing safety concern.
The International Cricket Council was forced to replace Australia with Ireland in the Under-19 World Cup while the bilateral Test series between Bangladesh and Australia has been shifted to August next year.
Cricket Australia’s chief security officer Sean Carroll visited Bangladesh last week to get a first hand idea about how the country has provided security to England team.
‘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 absolutely perfect venue for hosting any international event,’ he said.
While BCB was quietly celebrating their off the field success, Tigers, the main protagonists of the series partied whole night at Radisson hotel and received applause from all corners.
Bangladesh Cricket Board president Nazmul Hasan, who missed the prize giving ceremony for his personal commitment, joined the party straight from the airport after he returned from Singapore in late evening.
Manager Khaled Mahmud said prime minister Sheikh Hasina spoke to skipper Mushfiqur Rahim, vice-captain Tamim Iqbal, all-rounder Sakib al Hasan and new spin sensation Mehedi Hasan over phone to congratulate them personally.
Mahmud added that the prime minister had also invited the players for a cup of tea at her residence at Ganabhaban.
Players looked satisfied as they left the hotel for home on Monday.
‘We enjoyed the whole night,’ said batsman Imrul Kayes.
‘It is something that cannot be described in words but surely one of the finest moments of our life,’ he said.
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