I began to think if Tamim Iqbal made a mistake by hosting his online show to keep people engaged with cricket during this stressful time of a pandemic.
Most of his shows were entertaining no doubt. People got many insights from the likes of Virat Kohli, Kane Williamson, Wasim Akram.
Even young cricketers said they were benefited from the words of senior players. Some people found a great presenter in Tamim, who was tipped to become a commentator after retirement.
His homework was not great in some episodes. Sometimes he said things that a professional presenter would never say. But that was always expected.
After all, Tamim was not an expert in interviewing. His expertise is batting, not talking. If someone had to evaluate Tamim’s shows, he must give him a letter mark.
But is it going to help him when he finally assumes his role as captain?
Tamim already got few records before he formally started as Bangladesh one-day international captain. He spoke more than any other player in history before formally starting his job. Most numbers of people called him ‘captain’ before he captained his first match in a permanent role.
These are not a problem actually. He might well have started his job already if it was not for the pandemic. The Pakistan ODI got cancelled. The Ireland tour got postponed.
It would have been interesting to see how he handled Mashrafee bin Murtaza issue. Despite resigning from captaincy, Mashrafee was still available for Pakistan ODI and Ireland tour. But his selection was not guaranteed.
Tamim would have had his say in his selection for the series definitely. Coronavirus may have delayed his captaincy career. But it at least saved him from making this tricky call.
When Tamim will finally start his captaincy, maybe against Sri Lanka in December, it is all but certain Mashrafee will not be in contention for a place in the team.
In his final show, when Tamim asked Mahmudullah, Mushfiqur Rahim and Mashrafee what kind of food they would love to take if they were allowed a day without worrying about a diet, both Mushfiq and Mahmudullah made their choice very clear.
But Mashrafee indicated that he already started eating whatever he liked. For the audience, it was a light joke. But for Tamim, it was also a message.
In a very casual manner, Mashrafee informed that he gave up on his fitness now. Eating beef and drinking soda do not always make an international cricketer.
But despite losing his hope to get Mashrafee on his side in the field in the early days of his captaincy, Tamim still has a lot to take from the veteran player.
And Tamim is trying to take it already. His online show is an indication that Tamim is trying to follow the style of Mashrafee as a captain.
He is trying to create a team bonding, motivating the senior players. His talk show with young players also came as an assurance for them.
These are the qualities that made Mashrafee successful as captain. But what Mashrafee did successfully in his five years as captain, Tamim failed to do at the start.
This is why I began to feel his talk shows maybe were particularly damaging for him and his team. Mashrafee always kept the team’s best player Sakib al Hasan happy and was often rewarded with spectacular performances.
Tamim did exactly opposite by going public over Sakib’s reluctance to join his show. It exposed a kind of rift between the two players, which was not going to help either.
In the last show, Tamim said his best friend in the team is now Mushfiq. That he can also always say as one has every right to choose his friend.
But the problem for the rest is that it indicates Tamim’s relationship with Sakib is not in its best shape. It is important for Bangladesh team the two stays as good friends, if not best.
We all understand, Sakib has reasons to feel unhappy when Tamim was made ODI captain. He was tipped to be a natural successor of Mashrafee as Bangladesh captain for 50-over cricket and lead the team at least until World Cup 2023.
But his suspension forced the Bangladesh Cricket Board to change their plan. Yet, it was expected Mahmudullah would be made as ODI captain for an interim period and Sakib would take over from him once his ban ended.
Tamim was also reportedly offered a similar interim role. But he declined to be just someone else’s proxy. Tamim accepted the job only after BCB guaranteed him a long term.
He is now expected to lead the team at least until the next World Cup. It made Sakib’s return to the leadership role anytime in future uncertain.
Regardless of his form in the next World Cup three years later, BCB is unlikely to walk back to replace Tamim with Sakib after 2023.
Though the prospect of Sakib returning as captain in future is now all but diminished, it did not reduce his importance in the team.
He is expected to be drafted straight in the side once his ban comes to an end. In all likelihood, he will play the game when Tamim will finally start his life as Bangladesh captain.
So, it was important for Tamim to keep Sakib happy rather than hosting an online show or finding a new ‘best friend.’
The writer is the sports editor of New Age
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