“The way she acted during those difficult times was really appreciated by all Bangladeshis. She did a fantastic job.”
Bangladesh will play an intra-squad practice match on March 16, during their training camp in Queenstown, their ODI captain Tamim Iqbal said on Wednesday, adding that their spin-bowling coach Daniel Vettori will join the support staff in the city.
The visitors ended their 14 days of quarantine in Christchurch that included seven days of room isolation, a first for the Bangladesh cricketers, although they did train in small groups last week.
“[Vettori] is actually waiting for us in Queenstown,” Iqbal said at a press conference. “We have practice sessions and a practice game. We have been training in small groups during isolation, and from tomorrow we will be training as a team. Really looking forward to it.
“[The quarantine] was a first-time experience for us. We have been in bubbles before but not in complete isolation. Honestly, the way New Zealand Cricket arranged everything, and the staff looked after us really well. We want to thank them, and although it was a difficult place to be, they made it as comfortable for us as possible.”
Iqbal is among several cricketers from Bangladesh’s current squad who are in New Zealand for the first time since they inadvertently got caught up in the terrorist attack at the Al Noor mosque in Christchurch in 2019. Iqbal remembered the role played by Jacinda Ardern, the New Zealand prime minister, in the aftermath of the attack.
“It was a difficult time for all of us, especially the families who lost their own. We can pray for them and hope God makes it easy for their families. It wasn’t a great time but we have to look forward.
“This is a beautiful country with very nice people. I have been here now four or five times. I should mention the prime minister, the way she acted during those difficult times was really appreciated by all Bangladeshis. She did a fantastic job. If I get a chance to meet her, I will personally thank her,” he said.
Iqbal also thanked the Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina for the smooth roll-out of the Covid-19 vaccination programme in the country. Most members of the Bangladesh touring party in New Zealand were inoculated ahead of their departure from Dhaka. Iqbal said he would encourage others to take the vaccine too.
“You probably have to take it at some stage. Our prime minister was well in advance of everything. She did a fantastic job. We are really lucky as a nation that not only us cricketers, but normal people have been getting the vaccination for free.
“I am very proud of Bangladesh and I am sure other countries will follow. We all have to take it sooner or later. I have taken a dose. It wasn’t too bad,” he said.
Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo’s Bangladesh correspondent. @isam84