Bangladesh opener Tamim Iqbal finally left Dhaka on Saturday morning to join English county side Essex Eagles for the NatWest T20 Blast. The southpaw's travel itinerary was delayed due to processing of visa and cancellation of flight. Tamim was initially set to leave on Thursday.
If everything is on track, Tamim will appear in his first game on Sunday against Kent Spitfires at Kent County Cricket Ground in Beckenham. The match is scheduled the start at 8pm, Bangladesh standard time.
Tamim departed with the hope of meeting Essex's expectation and bagging as many positives possible from his one-month stay in England. This is the second time Tamim will appear in the English T20 League. He previously featured for Nottinghamshire in 2011.
“I do not think conditions there should be a problem, given that I have spent a good amount of time with the national team in the (2017) Champions Trophy. Important thing is that I have to perform well there. I will try my best to fulfil the club’s (Essex) expectation,” Tamim told the media at the Dhaka airport.
The 28-year old was signed by Essex for an eight-game spell in the T20 tournament. He will be joined by Pakistan's Mohammad Amir as Essex's two overseas players.
The opportunity came after the left-hander's blistering performance in the Champions Trophy, hosted by England and Wales. Tamim finished the eight-nation tournament as the third highest run-scorer with 293 in four matches, including one century and twice as many half-centuries.
“I am playing well at the moment. But to maintain that, I have to practise harder. The tournament I am going to play in is totally a different format. I will try to deliver my best. I will be staying there for a month and the experience will be a new one for me,” he informed.
Tamim’s next national assignment with Bangladesh will be at home in the two-match Test series against Australia this August. Although doubts are hanging over the series due to a pay dispute between Cricket Australia and its cricketers, Tamim believes the series will take place as scheduled.
“Issue such as the one Australia is having at the moment happens to some extent in every cricket board. But honestly, I am quite confident that their issue will end before they travel to Bangladesh. This is not in our control, only thing we can do is get ready for the series and we will be doing that accordingly,” said the Tigers' Test vice-captain.
Tamim was also offered to play for Benoni in the South Africa Global League, a franchise-based T20 tournament. The Benoni franchise were bought by the same owner who owns Pakistan Super League side Peshawar Zalmi, for whom Tamim is one of the overseas cricketers.
However, Tamim had no other options but to deny the offer, considering his commitment at the BPL T20, which is scheduled to be held at the same time as the SAGL. According to sources, BPL “icon” cricketer Tamim is likely to appear for Comilla Victorians in the fifth edition of the BPL, which is set to start on November 4 this year.
“The team I play for in PSL have bought a franchise in the South Africa T20 League so it is true that I had an offer. But there is no question of me playing there bearing in mind that I will be playing BPL T20, which will take place around the same time,” he clarified.
TAMIM'S PROBABLE ITINERARY
Opp Home/Away Time (BDT)
Kent Away 8pm
Somerset Home 12am
Glamorgan Home 7:30pm
Surrey Away 11:30pm
Hampshire Home 12am
Glamorgan Away 7:30pm
Middlesex Away 11:15pm
Gloucestershire Home 12am