Since the historic debut in the 1999 World Cup, Bangladesh have so far appeared in five editions of the biggest event in one-day cricket. There have been many memorable occasions and some not-so-memorable ones too on the way for the Tigers. But all of those who have adorned the red and green shirt in the biggest stage of all concur on one point: The 2019 squad is the best one from Bangladesh that will grace the World Cup. Star Sport Desk collated excerpts of some of the former Bangladeshi World Cuppers regarding their thoughts on the current squad, the requirements from the batters and bowlers, and their overall expectations from this batch.
In the first World Cup, we planned to win one or two games if possible. But Bangladesh is an experienced side now. There are players on this team who have played together for 10 to 12 years. In 1996, when Sri Lanka had won the World Cup, at that time, Sri Lanka were not a side that had been playing cricket for a very long time. But they managed to win the World Cup and now I think that it is Bangladesh's time to do something good in this World Cup.
This team is, I think, one of the most experienced Bangladesh sides to take part in the World Cup so far. We have a few players who have played more than 100 matches and that a huge plus point for us. And it won't be unrealistic if we believe that this team have the ability to be among the top four teams of the tournament this time, and I am hopeful for it.
Gazi Ashraf Hossain
I dreamt of Bangladesh one day winning the World Cup 10-15 years back. I remember during an ICC meeting I told them that our age-level teams are doing so well and this time would surely be different. They used to criticise us and even said that there would be eight teams in the world at one stage.Since then, I believed that if I am able to see Bangladesh win the World Cup once before I die, it would be the biggest achievement or dream come to true of not only my life, but also those who played cricket for Bangladesh and not to mention, the supporters.
It is natural that expectations rise when the team plays well. But this is a big pressure for the players. It is necessary to perform as a team, not only as individuals. Be it in bowling, batting or in fielding, everyone needs to give their best effort and then I think we can do anything.
I think Bangladesh should be able to defeat Afghanistan, Sri Lanka and West Indies even though these teams are all very good. We would then have to beat to big teams and it could be anyone. It may be New Zealand or Pakistan. We defeated New Zealand in the Champions Trophy before and also Pakistan a few times. I think it could be anyone, or even South Africa, who knows?
I think the biggest challenge [in England] will be to keep strong nerves. The environment of World Cup cricket is totally different. England is the birthplace of cricket and the World Cup being held in England itself is a huge thing. I think we have to play the type of cricket we normally do but at the same time we have to keep our nerves strong seeing as whoever is able to do so will likely enjoy more success.
The format now is very difficult as every team will play against each another. So I hope that Bangladesh reach the second round [semifinal] as it will be very difficult this time. Maybe there were a lot more expectations in the previous World Cups but this time it would make me very happy if Bangladesh can reach the second round.
Cricket has now become a game of runs. In England, there won't be any moisture on the pitch like we used to find earlier. But the bowlers might get some swing in the air if there is wind. Other than that, it will be wrong of the bowlers and even the fans to expect some extraordinary bowling in England. The bowlers need to bank on variations like bowling slowers, slower yorkers, block holes, lower full-toss deliveries at times. The faster bowlers can even bowl half-volley deliveries at a good speed as it is hard to hit and might result in only a single most of the time. But the bowlers cannot afford to bowl short and good length balls, especially in the last ten overs as those will be easy pickings.
I think there are no controversies regarding this squad. The only thing that could be discussed is why Imrul Kayes did not make the squad. Other than that I don't see any chances for controversy. I only felt bad for Taskin [Ahmed] but the truth is that he is still not 100 per cent fit. So if we think about it like this, then this World Cup squad is without controversy.
Everyone dreams to see Bangladesh play in the semifinal or final after the last World Cup but the format is different as every team will play against each other so there are no weaker teams this time. In the last three World Cups there were two or three weaker teams grouped with Bangladesh. In 2007, Bermuda was a weaker team in our group. In 2011 we got two weaker teams in Ireland and Scotland and in 2015 we had Afghanistan and Scotland. But this time there are no weaker teams. So this World Cup will be a big challenge for us and if we are to emulate our last three World Cup performances then we need to play very well.