When Akram Khan lifted the ICC Trophy at the Kilat Kelab ground (now renamed as Tenaga National Sports Complex) in Kuala Lumpur exactly 20 years ago there was kind of euphoria in Bangladesh. Celebrations were all around, but little hopes. Bangladeshis were just happy to qualify for the World Cup. Two decades later Bangladesh have now become a respectable Test nation, moved to the seventh place in official one-day international rankings. In an interview with New Age, Akram reflected on the journey of Bangladesh cricket team in post-ICC era.
NA: How is the journey so far since the ICC championship?
Akram Khan: It is a decent journey so far. There are some areas where we had developed more than my expectations while there are some places where we could not reach the desired standard. But overall we are having a good run so far.
NA: Can you elaborate more precisely?
AK: To be honest I felt in Test cricket we would have performed better. Recently we are playing well in Tests but I think we should have performed like this earlier, say from 2012-13. In our present set-up there are four to five world-class players and their presence seems to be playing as a decisive factor in our growth as a cricketing nation. I did not expect to have so many performers at once.
NA: So you are not happy with the Test performance?
AK: I did not mean to say that. Hopefully in Test cricket if we can perform the way we have been performing over the last couple of years we would surely make our mark.
NA: What about Twenty20 cricket?
AK: I did not think about it in that way because it arrived late. But I am happy with our recent performance in both Test and one-day internationals. If we can do well in both the formats we will surely do it in Twenty20 cricket as well.
NA: Do you think our infrastructure is playing a big part in our development. If that is the case do you feel you missed out because of that?
AK: I don’t know. It’s true that our infrastructure is playing a big part in our development. It’s hard to say if we had received this kind of facilities we would have done this because at that point our opportunities were very limited. So in my opinion we were good at our time and they are good at present. There should not be any debate about it.
NA: How do you rate the contribution of our foreign coaches because starting from Eddie Barlow to Chandika Hathurusinghe they often gets highlighted?
AK: It is true that our foreign coaches often get highlighted. They always play a big part behind our success. You can have a lot of players but the outcome depends a lot on the coaches because how he interacts with the boys reflects through their performance. I feel Eddie Barlow was a good coach and we had Gordon Greenidge who was a fine mentor. A lot of coaches came later and left and we are now doing well at present under Hathurusinghe. But at the same time we went backward during 2003 due to coaches.
NA: You mean to say the period of Trevor Chappell?
AK: Yes. There were also Mohsin Kamal and Ali Zia. It was really a bad time for us during that time. We failed due to their plan as they had nothing to offer us apart from pulling us behind.
NA: Do you feel the way we pamper our coaches is a good trend?
AK: It is not true the way you are presenting it. You can always tolerate a coach once he is giving you result but it is different being tolerant and pampering. We prefer to give a lot of freedom to our coaches and the culture is not new at all. From time to time we have seen a coach have some likings and disliking and some of our players had to suffer due to that.
NA: Do you feel the journey you began with ICC championship is on the right track?
AK: No doubt about that and we feel it is not far when we would become a force to reckon with in all formats. When we started the journey it was totally a new experience. We were shy to express ourselves but now that is not the case and it is the major change that we have achieved so far during these 20 years.