By Faisal Caesar
It was a depressing month in May 2010. The Bangladesh government banned the popular social networking site Facebook and the entire nation that loved social networking was hugely upset. They needed a something to lift their depressing mood.
The Tigers were then touring England. And as usual the English media was severe on the Bangladesh team, dubbing them as unworthy of playing Test cricket. And one man who was most vociferous on the matter was Geoffrey Boycott.
Bangladesh did not help matters when in the first Test at Lord’s, England piled up a massive 505 in their first innings. Even Shahadat Hossain’s five for 98 wasn’t enough to inspire the other bowlers to stop the flood of runs. Bangladesh fell 24 short of avoiding a follow-on that triggered to Boycott slamming Bangladesh.
But Boycott was soon to get a fitting reply from the Bangladesh team. Following on, Bangladesh needed a gallant response. And one man’s bat boomed to light up the grand arena of Lord’s. Little Tamim Iqbal Tamim was at his sublime best. On the fourth day, Tamim Iqbal's strokes were pure genius.
His first boundary was off Tim Bresnan who dropped one short and found it smashed to the midwicket boundary. The floodgates opened. Tamim was as pugnacious as ever, and he greeted Graeme Swann's first ball of the day by charging down the track. The off-spinner's opening over cost England 10 runs. Then, Swann's first over after lunch was dispatched for 17, including two massive slog-sweeps over midwicket. Tamim reached his hundred in the 35th over of the innings with three fours in one over from Bresnan, the third a dismissive drive over mid-on to raise three figures.
He struck 15 fours and two sixes in reaching his century midway through the afternoon session from just 94 balls - the fastest by a Bangladesh batsman in Tests, the fastest at Lord's since Mohammad Azharuddin's effort in 1990, and just the sixth Bangladesh Test hundred outside the subcontinent.
When he was finally dismissed by Steven Finn, caught at mid-wicket by Jonathan Trott, history had already being made. Tamim enjoyed a name in the Lord’s honour’s list.
Riding on Tamim’s hundred, Bangladesh avoided an innings defeat and took the game to the fifth day giving England a target of 160. Had there been greater resistance from the middle and lower order, Bangladesh could even saved the Lord’s Test. But their efforts earned copious praise and completely shut up Boycott.
But the Tamim juggernaut wasn’t over yet. At Manchester, in the second Test, his bat boomed again to script another gem in front of a patriotic Manchester crowd. In reply to England’s massive first innings total of 419, Tamim responded again with flurry of boundaries to take the English bowlers to the cleaners.
He exhibited some scorching strokes that amazed the appreciative Manchester crowd. Not for the first time that summer, and presumably not for the last either, the English had discovered that their once meek opponents have developed a punch that was capable of leaving was capable of doing as much damage as a Mike Tyson blow. For the second time in as many, Tamim produced an innings of rare audacity that made headlines and stole the hearts of even the most partisan England supporters.
Tamim was out for 108, but sadly Bangladesh failed to capitalize on his efforts and were suffered another innings defeat.
But Tamim earned respect for Bangladesh cricket. Tamim’s glorious English summer ensured that his team would be taken seriously by carping critics. His exquisite stroke play and tremendous run of form with the bat last summer earned him a place amongst the top four of Wisden’s Best Cricketers of 2010 - a most deserving recognition for one of the most exciting talent in Bangladesh.
Well done, Tamim!
(Faisal Caesar is a doctor by profession whose dream of becoming a cricketer remained a dream. But his passion is very much alive and he translates that passion in writing about the game)