Many cricketers showed promise in the early stages of their career but could not make it in the long run, some courtesy of injury, some due to lack of consistency.
If you want to make a list of Bangladeshi cricketers who failed to do justice to their talent, you might have to go through a very long list. Many cricketers showed promise in the early stages of their career but could not make it in the long run, some courtesy of injury, some due to lack of consistency.
The Business Standard (TBS) has drawn up a list of XI such players who were supposed to do great things for the country but ended up being 'what-could-have-been'.
Mehrab Hossain was the first-ever Bangladeshi cricketer to notch up an ODI hundred. He scored the first half-century by a Bangladeshi batsman in a World Cups as well. Despite being a naturally gifted stroke-maker, Mehrab's career was a short one, playing only nine Tests and 18 ODIs.
Mehrab's realisation: "I last played for Bangladesh in 2003. I faced the axe because of poor performance. I tried to make a comeback, but couldn't. I couldn't match the standards of the other players in the domestic circuit. That was the reason I couldn't make a strong case for myself to be picked again in the team."
Nafees Iqbal was touted as the next batting superstar of Bangladesh since his early days. His temperament was acclaimed and everyone expected him to be the mainstay of the Bangladesh batting line-up, especially in Tests. But he couldn't prolong his career for more than two years.
Nafees' realisation: "Injuries halted my progress. I was out of cricket because of injuries during my peak. Naturally, I struggled to regain fitness after a gap of two years. Also, I could've put in more hard work to be a better player before the injuries. But if I was given enough chance to prove my mettle after the injury, things could've been different altogether. But I never got the opportunity."
In 2006, Shahriar Nafees became the first-ever Bangladeshi batsman to score 1,000 runs in a calendar year. He was a prolific run-scorer for Bangladesh in the late 2000s. But his career took a perilous turn when he joined the controversial Indian Cricket League (ICL). Afterwards, he tried but couldn't cement his place in the team.
Shahriar's realisation: "I did not get the opportunity and support despite having good numbers in ODIs. I last played an ODI in 2011. Still, I am the seventh-highest run-getter for Bangladesh in this format. I should've been given enough support as we are more of an ODI dependent team. That's why I couldn't fulfil my potential."
Mohammad Ashraful grabbed the headlines at a very young age when he became the youngest cricketer in Tests to score a hundred. Since then, Ashraful produced match-winning knocks on and off, but could never really become consistent as a batsman. He further caused problems for himself when he was charged for spot-fixing and faced a five-year ban.
Ashraful's realisation: It was probably my destiny; that's why I couldn't make it big. But what I did was not that bad. I was part of some of the memorable victories. Yes, it would be nice if my average was in the forties. But people will remember me. I needed good support and guidance which I didn't get. Things could've been different if I was guided properly. But what happened is all destiny.'
Alok Kapali was not someone who caught everyone's eye during his early days. The coaching duo of Mohsin Kamal and Ali Zia spotted him when he was batting in the nets. Apart from being a stylish batsman, Kapali bowled useful leg-spin. But after playing in the ICL, he couldn't remain in the board's good books and hardly got chances to make a comeback.
Kapali's realisation: "I can blame only myself. I was going through a lean patch in the mid-2000s. At the time, I didn't get enough support from the senior players. I notched up five centuries before the 2007 World Cup but I wasn't rewarded as I was slotted to bat at eight or nine in the practice games. I had to prove a point. That's why I went to play in the ICL. There I proved myself. I even scored heavily before the 2011 World Cup. But I was overlooked. Also, I started too early. Things could've been different if I had started three-four years later."
Rajin Saleh caught everyone's eye with his excellent temperament and agile fielding. He was touted as a batsman who would serve the team for a long time in Tests. But he couldn't do so due to lack of opportunities.
Rajin's realisation: "Things could've been better for me if I did slightly better in domestic cricket. I last played a Test match in 2008. Then I was in the firing line. I could've prolonged my career if I had been given enough chances. I wished to serve the team for a long time, especially in the Tests, but that was not to be."
Aftab Ahmed caught the attention with his aggressive style of batting. He was never intimidated by the opposition, rather he relied on his instincts. But he wasn't concerned about his fitness. Still, he could've played a few more years if he hadn't joined the ICL.
Aftab's realisation: "Despite being a gifted cricketer, I couldn't make use of my talent. Also, I was nowhere near the radar of BCB after getting dropped. I was frustrated because of that. If I was part of some sort of camp I would have worked hard. But no one gave me a chance after I was dropped from the team. That's the reason I couldn't return to the team."
Sohag Gazi broke into the national team after consistent performances in the domestic circuit but attracted all the spotlight after debuting for the national side. He is still the only cricketer to pick up a hattrick and a hundred in a Test. But in the end, he only turned out to be a short-lived delight.
Sohag's realisation: "I think I did not get enough opportunities. After I was out of the national team, I could have done better if I was under the board's supervision. But I was not taken care of once I was out of the national setup. I think players like me can still do something in the international arena. But if we are not picked for camps, it becomes tough to do it all by yourself."
Enamul Haque Jr
For a long time, Enamul Haque Jr was considered Mohammad Rafique's worthy successor after he showed promise in his early days. As he was a natural turner of the ball, Enamul was picked for the national side even before he played in a U-19 World Cup. Enamul was the hero of Bangladesh's first Test win and he was the man of the series in Bangladesh's first-ever Test series win. But as time went on, Enamul was given less and fewer opportunities and soon, he was out of contention for the national side.
Enamul's realisation: "I was ignored despite performing. I also lagged as I was tagged as a Test bowler. Bangladesh plays very few Tests and it was difficult to adjust. There was a 13-month gap in our Tests in 2007 for the World Cup. This had an impact on my career. But still, I made a comeback and played well in 2009. But then again, I was ignored in the selection process."
Syed Rasel was the unsung hero for Bangladesh cricket. His economic bowling pressurised the opponent but was often overlooked by the naked eye. He lacked pace, which he covered up with swing bowling. Add a great slower to that arsenal, Rasel had batsmen bamboozled.
But injury had a serious effect on his career and so did Jamie Siddons. After the Australian coach was appointed, Rasel was discarded soon after.
Rasel's realisation: "Injuries were the main problem. Then there was being in the coach's good book. Every coach targets a couple of players and I was one of them. Dave Whatmore liked me but it was the opposite with Siddons. Also, I was not as strong as a seamer should be. That might be the reason behind the injuries."
Talha Jubair has to be regarded as one of the biggest disappointments in Bangladesh cricket history. He took the whole cricketing arena by storm with his speed, line and length which saw him play Tests at a tender age of 16.
He and Mashrafe Bin Mortaza were considered the star duo of Bangladesh cricket. But while Mashrafe went on to become the country's most successful seamer till date, Talha's career was nipped in the bud due to injuries. And thus, Talha's career ended with only seven Tests and six ODIs in his bag.
Talha's realisation: "My injury was my biggest problem. But the board did not take proper care of me after the injury, as they should have. Everyone had hoped a lot from me and that is why I was handed a debut at such a young age. But I don't know why I was not given any opportunities after I recovered from my injury. Andy Roberts had said that Mashrafe and I must be taken proper care of, because we will serve Bangladesh a long time. I had an injury from which I could recover in 4-5 months but I could not play for two years. That was probably because I did not become someone's favourite as I am not prone to flattering people."