In the lead-up to the 2019 World Cup, we take a look back on World Cups past through the eyes of Bangladesh’s former World Cup stars. Shahriar Nafees, who became the first Bangladeshi to score two ODI hundreds when he smashed a career-best, unbeaten 123 against Zimbabwe in the ICC Champions Trophy in 2006, had many impactful performances for Bangladesh over the years. However, the left-hander did not set the stage on fire in the two World Cups where he featured for Bangladesh in 2007 and 2011. Nafees spoke about his World Cup experiences and more during an interview with The Daily Star’s Nabid Yeasin.
The Daily Star (TDS): You played in two World Cups for Bangladesh -- in 2007 and 2011. How did it feel to be a part of and participate in a World Cup squad?
Shahriar Nafees (SN): The first dream for any player is to represent their country while the second is to play in a World Cup. When it comes to Bangladeshi players, we basically got inspiration from watching the World Cup during our childhood. We even put more attention and focus on the World Cup than Test cricket and if the case is similar for others, then every cricketer dreams of participating in a World Cup. That’s why when I got the chance to play in the 2007 World Cup, it was a dream come true for me and it was really exciting. I felt very satisfied at the time. Also, we could consider that one-day cricket is actually played keeping the World Cup in mind. All the teams build their squads for the World Cup which comes every four years and in that sense, the World Cup holds a very unique significance for each player.
TDS: You had torrid outings in the World Cups you featured in, do you still regret not being able to perform as well as you had in other tournaments or series?
SN: The 2007 World Cup was not a good one for me and in the 2011 edition I featured in only two games. There is no doubt that it feels great for a player if they do well in a World Cup. I personally feel that it is important to perform regularly for your country, be it in a World Cup or any other tournament. While it is true that if you play well in a World Cup then you will be highlighted but it is not a sure thing that that would lengthen your career. Geoff Allott of New Zealand was the highest wicket taker in the 1999 World Cup but he could not continue playing after that. So that’s why it would have felt great if I had performed well but I do not have any regrets about not doing so.
TDS: Mention a memorable World Cup experience.
SN: The most memorable experience for me would be defeating India in the 2007 World Cup. I think it was a milestone in Bangladesh’s history and a wonderful victory. So that was my most memorable experience.
TDS: Do you have any personal memories of the World Cup which you cherish?
SN: It was actually not during a World Cup but before the 2007 edition, when we played a tournament [associates tri-series] against Bermuda and Canada. In that tournament, where we played ODIs, I scored a century against Bermuda but that is not what I cherished most. I remember that ton because of the field on which I scored. It was at Antigua Recreation Ground, where cricket is no longer played. It is the same ground where Brian Lara had played innings’ of 350 and 400 runs and so it remains as one of my most cherished moments.
TDS: What is your view on this World Cup squad?
SN: 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. We already knew about most of the players who would make the squad. I only felt bad for Taskin [Ahmed] but the truth is that he is still not 100 per cent fit. Although about a month is left, right now Taskin is not fit. So if we think about it like this, then this World Cup squad is without controversy.
TDS: What do you think Bangladesh’s chances are in this World Cup?
SN: The format is very hard this time. The best ten teams will play in the World Cup, six of which will be eliminated in the first round. So it is difficult for Bangladesh and other teams as well. So we need to be careful because this World Cup is comparatively harder than the previous ones. It is our desire for Bangladesh to play in the semifinal or final but that is a very tough ask.