View Full Version : Reigning in Rainhill by RI

July 26, 2006, 05:49 AM
Here is the monologue of Ash based on his interview by Rabeed Imam published by TigerCricket.
I liked the monologue, you may like also:

<TABLE class=tablestyle id=Table1 style="WIDTH: 482px; HEIGHT: 196px" cellSpacing=0 cellPadding=0 width=482 border=0><TBODY><TR><TD>Reigning in Rainhill


</TD></TR><TR><TD><TABLE id=Table2 cellSpacing=0 cellPadding=0 width=487 border=0><TBODY><TR><TD class=normtext vAlign=top><TABLE class=tablestyle id=Table3 style="BORDER-COLLAPSE: collapse" cellSpacing=0 borderColorDark=#000080 cellPadding=0 width=120 align=right borderColorLight=#006699 border=0><TBODY><TR><TD>http://www.tigercricket.com/Image/ashraful_rainhill.jpg

</TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE>Bangladesh star Mohammad Ashraful recently narrated his experience of playing for Rainhill CC in the Merseyside and Southport Cricket Alliance league in England to TigerCricket.com’s Editor Rabeed Imam. Let’s hear it from Ash:

I knew that playing for Rainhill CC and living in England would be an altogether different experience for me. I was in uncharted territory and so was the club. I was received at the airport by the first team’s skipper Paul Ford and while he was driving me to my new home he sheepishly admitted that he wasn’t sure that after my hundred against Sri Lanka I would actually turn up. He thought that I would be approached by a county team or something. But I assured Paul that I had signed an agreement and the thought of dishonouring it never crossed my mind. Paul later also showed me a piece of paper with my name written in large letters. He had it with him to flash towards incoming passengers so that a certain Mohammad Ashraful knew who to approach. But he told me that in the end he thought it won’t look nice and put it back in his pocket. He was going to recognise me from my photos and from what he had seen of me on television.
I was given a very nice two-bedroom house to stay in Rainhill with a living room downstairs and a lawn at the back. The best part was it was just a couple of minutes walk to the club ground across a bridge and past a rail station. Staying alone meant I had to eat out most of the time and a Bangladeshi expatriate Raihan took care of my deshi taste bud. Raihan owned an Indian takeaway beside my house and I was a regular there. He was also the only compatriot around. In the evening I would usually hang around at the nearby pub, playing pool with my new found friends. Passing time wasn’t a problem.
Around this time of the year the nights are unusually long in England with the sun setting at 9:30pm. I would sleep up to 1pm and go for practice at 4 and stay at the ground till sunset. The club trained on Thursdays only and Fridays were reserved for my coaching sessions with local kids. On the other days if there wasn’t a match, the club’s players would in turn come to the ground to help me train by practicing with me or by operating the bowling machine for me. Around 8:30 the children would start arriving.
The people of Rainhill were very proud to have a Test player in their midst for the first time. In the past Pakistan’s pacer Mohammad Asif, Zimbabwe’s Paul Strang and Andrew Nel of South Africa had played in this league but for Rainhill I was the first Test cricketer. I lived in house number six and one day I was returning home from the pub around mid-night and one gentleman, who was totally drunk, was also walking with me. I must say I was a bit concerned looking at him as he certainly didn’t appear conscious enough to find his way back home. So I inquired where he was going and he said, ‘I live next door to a Bangladeshi Test cricketer. You know him?’
Not too many Bangladeshis lived around Rainhill and very few came to watch me play. They don’t have large crowds watching club cricket in England and the football World Cup meant lesser number of people at the grounds. But even then the games drew a relatively good audience. My fans however kept track of me and Mike Rotheram, who is also the club president’s son and Paul had their email accounts flooded with mails for me. Mike is a sports psychologist and had worked with Scotland’s most famous cricketer Gavin Hamilton. He had a few sessions with me too.
In the first few weeks I was not among the runs. I was playing well to get around the 20s and then I would try to attempt a boundary having hit two off the last couple of balls and get out. The adjustment I had to make was with shot selection. In England the balls move late after pitching and if you are prepared to wait then it becomes a lot, lot easier. In the beginning I was trying to score too quickly and that did not work out so I concentrated on spending more time at the crease and the runs came back.
I have to admit I was tempted to try out a bit of seam bowling looking at the conditions but my club mates thankfully persuaded me to stick to leg-break. May is the start of the season in England and it is freezing in the open. I did not think that the ball would come out of the hand which was absolutely stiff but a few overs in I knew that not too many players would try to hit leg-spin over the top. I usually bowled a bit fuller and with the ball turning it was always going to be difficult if batsmen weren’t comfortable in using their feet. I had a very successful outing with the ball and got 26 wickets in the First Division.
I played eight matches in the Merseyside and Southport Cricket Alliance First Division and two Sunday League matches. In the First Divison I scored around 270 runs with one hundred and a fifty. In the two Sunday games I made 202 and 123. The difference between the two competitions is that you can declare an innings in the First Division while Sunday games are 45-overs a side affairs. In the First Division there is no over-limit for the side batting first but in the second innings there can be no more than 20 overs after 6:40pm. There are points for batting and bowling. If your team reaches 200 within 50 overs then you get five points, four for 175, three for 150, two for 125 and one for getting to 100. Declaration within 50 overs with a score of 200 or above would fetch you 10 points and there are 25 points on offer for a win. Similarly there is one point for two wickets, two for four and three for six.
There is great competition among the league teams and we all had a lot of fun also. Rainhill CC has a number of good cricketers, Pakistani Imran, Indian Singhie, Mike is a pretty good player and Paul has excellent cricket sense. We lost just one First Division game during the time I was there.
For me the best part about English cricket are the facilities. Rainhill is not a rich club but it has its own ground and it is massive. The club doesn’t have an indoor facility but there are bowling machines and practice wickets. In fact all the 12/13 clubs that play in the league have their own grounds. I told them you don’t know how lucky your children are. I see amazing talents everywhere in Bangladesh but their progress is hampered by the lack of playing fields and facilities.
I was relieved that I got back among the runs. I was the overseas professional there and I had to perform. I could understand it from the very beginning that the club looked up to me. I got out scoring 18 in the first match and at the end of the game everyone was sitting around the pub and Mike played my 94 against England. I just knew then that I had to do something so that people here realize that Bangladeshi players can be just as successful as Pakistanis or Indians. I also remembered how we criticize foreign recruits in our Dhaka league when they don’t perform and thought gosh! What if people here also started thinking of me in the same way?
For me the Rainhill experience was beneficial in the sense that I was constantly playing in different and at times difficult conditions and had a lot of responsibility. It may not be top quality cricket but even then you have to plan and apply yourself before and during an innings in the same way you would do in the top flight. I think Zimbabwean conditions will also be similar and that could be interesting because I have played on seaming, bouncy wickets during the last few weeks.
The people of Rainhill have been fantastic. They have made me feel at home. I have made some wonderful friends and Mike, Paul and the other guys have looked after me really, really well. But my best friends have been the little ones who came to me for cricket coaching, I miss them a lot and all the diving and silly stuff we did during fielding practice. I can’t wait to get back. I will be heading to Rainhill for five weeks after the series in Zimbabwe and Kenya and I know people are waiting for me there and are following my every step in Africa wishing their Ashraful a great run of form.


July 26, 2006, 08:42 AM
Enjoyed reading it. Excellent write up.

I wonder how is Ash's English now after being in England all by himself for sometime.

July 26, 2006, 08:53 AM
i bet he improved a lot.. we'll see in the next prize ceremony...

July 26, 2006, 01:32 PM
Is that mean...a dazzling century from Ashraful?!

July 26, 2006, 02:52 PM
Looks like he has learned something. I hope he will be able to play more responsibly now. Good stuff.

July 26, 2006, 03:15 PM
i saw a interview of him after that great innings he played there. his english improved but still its BS

July 26, 2006, 09:29 PM
Not bad..hopefully he will learn not to repeat the same mistakes, and will mature enough in shot selection.

All the best, bud! Flourish and nurture your talents, skills and passion for cricket beyond the perimeter and show the cricket world what a little master can do to represent the Test glory of his country.

July 26, 2006, 10:03 PM
Great read. Cheers.