Boycott jibe spurs fearless opener to leave his mark

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The Independent Online

Tamim Iqbal seldom needs any invitation to get on the front foot when he is batting. But a few words from the former England opener Geoff Boycott made the Bangladeshi dasher doubly determined to leave his mark on the home of cricket.

Boycott is nothing if not opinionated when it comes to talking about cricket, so it was no real surprise to hear him question Bangladesh's right to Test match status while speaking on television during the first Test. A few wounding words were enough to keep Tamim awake until 1am yesterday morning, however, but – as England's bowlers will confirm – the little left-hander was bright-eyed and bushy-tailed enough a few hours later to hit a spectacular 94-ball century by way of retaliation.

"I wanted to prove to the world that we are getting there," said Tamim, who scored 55 in the first innings and 103 when Bangladesh followed on, despite carrying the handicap of a cracked bone in his right wrist. "It's nothing personal with him [Boycott], he can say whatever he wants – that's not a problem. But it feels bad to me as a cricketer to listen to those kind of things. We know one thing about our team: we are very young and we are working very hard. We are improving day by day and we are getting there. If you start a chocolate company you cannot compete with Cadbury in the first 10 years. It's the same with cricket."

Tamim has plenty of form when it comes to putting England to the sword. He reached 50 three times in four innings during the recent series in Bangladesh – including a crash-bang-wallop knock of 85 from 70 balls in Dhaka, which had put him on course to become only the fifth batsman in international cricket history to score a century before lunch on the first day of a Test. On that occasion the little fellow died by the sword – and so he did yesterday, but not before reaching three figures and securing a place on the honours board reserved for Lord's century-makers. "I promised I would not leave here without a hundred, so I am really proud."

Maybe he will find time to have a few words with Mr Boycott, especially if Bangladesh complete a great escape? "I would love to speak and learn lots of things from him," said Tamim. "I want to learn cricket because I love cricket." So what does he think Boycott could teach him? "Maybe defence – Geoff was a good defender, I think," said Bangladesh's star man, showing that he knows his cricket history as well as his way to a hundred in double-quick time.

The England coach, Andy Flower, took nothing away from Tamim's terrific counter-attack. "He played a great aggressive innings," Flower said. But he accepts his bowlers have not been at their best in this match: "We have not performed as we would have liked and were a little below par."