Tamim Iqbal, Bangladesh's premier batsman, has been heavily criticized for playing at a below-par strike rate in recent times, along with being accused of hampering the team's tempo.
Well, the criticism started in 2018, when Tamim scored 130 off 160 deliveries against the Windies. It might not seem too slow, but he reached his hundred playing 146 deliveries and then accelerated. This innings left everyone in shock, including Ian Bishop, who asked from the commentary box that where was such hitting some overs back. And this has been what everyone's talking about, Tamim has been playing too slowly which creates pressure on his batting partners which leads to the whole batting order collapsing.
Tamim has been reluctant to take singles, playing a lot of dot balls and has relied on boundaries rather than singles and doubles to score runs. And boundaries are not easy to find, but the real question is, did Tamim ever bat any differently than this? The stats say, No.
Tamim has a career strike rate of 77.74 in ODIs, at an average of 35.52. He really blossomed after the 2015 World Cup, and since then, his strike rate is 78.11, which is similar to his career strike rate. His strike rate crossed 80 in only two years since 2015, in 2015 and 2017. Even though he averages over 50 since April 2015 in ODIs, his strike rate has barely changed and that suggests, Tamim Iqbal was never the hard-hitter we hoped him to be. And the 2019 World Cup turned out to be a nightmare for him, as he managed to score only 231 runs at a strike rate of only 70.
Tamim's famous fifty vs India in the 2007 World Cup gave him the reputation of a hard-hitting batsman, but he has failed to do justice to the tag since then. Throughout his whole career, he managed a strike rate of 96 only in 2010. In the other years, that has ranged from 70 to 85. His strike rate is more similar to Imrul Kayes, the defensive option rather than the more attacking Soumya Sarkar and Liton Das.
Arguments might be made that Tamim plays the anchor role of the batting order which makes him value his wicket more than some quick-fire runs. But in truth, Tamim's batting style is outdated in 2019. The other batsmen who are the pivot in their batting lineup, have far better strike rates than Tamim. Virat Kohli, Steve Smith, Joe Root, Kane Williamson - all have a strike rate above 80. Bangladesh team management might be blamed for making an opener the pivot of the batting order, but that does not hide Tamim's lackings.
Tamim was terribly inconsistent till 2015, and that led him to focus more on scoring more rather than scoring fast, the latter being the style of ODI cricket post-2015.
Post-2015 ODI has seen 300+ targets been chased down pretty easily and Bangladesh are often in the back foot because of Tamim starting slowly. One of these incidents happened in the 2019 World Cup when Bangladesh came down to chase 382 vs Australia. Tamim scored 62 at a strike rate of 84, and as a bonus ran Soumya Sarkar out when the team needed a blistering start from their openers. Bangladesh in the end finished on 333 but in the end rued for a faster opening partnership which might have helped them chase down the gigantic total.
The fault actually might not be Tamim's alone, because the country cultivates a culture of valuing runs more than impact. Soumya only scored 29 against Windies in the World Cup while Tamim scored 48, but Soumya's innings had a bigger impact as it took Bangladesh off to a flying start.
Tamim has taken a sabbatical from the game and needs to sort his game out. Bangladesh need fast starts to compete in the modern style of cricket and the end flourish is not enough anymore. This is 2019 and everyone needs to adapt to the modern style.
Whoever can't, must make way for those who can. And it's time Tamim Iqbal, the best batsman for Bangladesh till date, takes heed to that and adapts.
Because Bangladesh Cricket needs him, the better him.