A couple of old threads of mine from when Kohlimuddin burst into the international scene:
1) Praising Nazimuddin in a gayebi match
2) Losing faith after actually watching him play
Nazimuddin continues to shine where others don’t, at least not nearly as much, and looks to be our ace-in-the-hole in this tournament and possibly others yet to come. He is that special player nobody took much notice of and he’s making sure that they do. This young Chittagonian too has outstanding shots at his arsenal, and the right attitude to apply them effectively. The 9.25 run rate in the match is largely his work with the bat. Third match in a row where he deserved to be the MOM, and the second match where he has been. Just look at these number again and put a cheery on top: -
Nazimuddin not out 74 62 42 9 3 176.19
I will throw that cautious optimism to the wind and proclaim that a star is born, and he is here to stay by the supreme grace of Allah.
III. Reality versus expectation, Mohammad Nazimuddin.
We start forming ideas about a player whose stats look pretty darn good in comparison to others, start rooting for him, and then find ourselves in the precarious position where instead of relishing the answers we were so eagerly anticipating through the expected performance of our new hero, we can think of only one question, an embarrassing question we can only ask ourselves: “What the F was I thinking?” I fear Mohammad Nazimuddin is one such player.
His performances in the T20WC preparatory tournament in Kenya, especially his stellar performance against the eventual World runners-up Pakistan and its formidable fast bowling attack, were not actually SEEN by anyone other than those in the stands in Nairobi. Naturally, after coming deliciously close to an always rare T20 hundred against our former masters, he was quickly catapulted to the often-ephemeral position of an overnight sensation of Bangladeshi cricket, and possibly the next big thing it has to offer to the world in the not too distant future. A nation of passionate cricket fans in the hundreds of millions, we hate loosing and therefore tend to be understandably impatient with the rate of our progress at the highest level of international cricket. We are always looking for a savior or two, and desperately want, almost like hormonally driven teenagers, the ‘input’ to meet the ‘expectation’. Not surprisingly, most of us believed that the newest marauder from the eastern shores of the Bay was going to be an answer to our prayers, without actually seeing how he managed to get those runs against the world-class pacers from Pakistan. We all imagined him to be another Aftab Ahmed who could possibly stay on the wicket longer and thereby benefiting his team, our team, the way it should be benefited by a top order batsman.
Then the real T20WC was on TV, we saw him bat and I dare say, DID NOT like what we saw. Our high expectations were not met and we found ourselves in that all too familiar corner of Room 00 in the basement of Heartbreak Hotel, Bangladesh. If was not just the fact that he couldn’t score runs, but also the awkward and technically unsound manner in which he was trying to stay on the wicket in order to score those much anticipated runs which never came from his bat. He quickly became another “zero from hero” as the tournament ended horribly for all of our top order batsmen except Aftab Ahmed in general, the classy Zunaed Siddique previously spelled with a J, and skipper Mohammad Ashraful Matin with his magnificent and match-winning knock against the West Indies.
Then the boys were back home to show us what they’ve learned from that experience as the new and improved NCL - the ONLY first class and List A tournament in the country based on selection - provided the opportunity for them to do so. Mohammad Nazimuddin, not surprisingly, has continued to score runs in the league and stay amongst the top 5 scorers as he has done in previous seasons, but failed to make a good impression in this fan’s mind with his unsound methods just like last year. Familiar apprehensions from last season’s NCL continue to mitigate his achievements in the NCL, and create serious doubts in my mind as to his readiness for the highest level of international cricket.
After watching him bat closely during the course of Chittagong’s FC and List A matches against the no frills mediocrity of Dhaka’s bowling attack without Shahadat Hossain Rajib out sick and in recovery, those doubts have become more deeply rooted than ever.
His skittish yet weirdly lazy footwork especially inside the crease makes him an ideal LBW candidate against any decent seamer in the world. Imagine a combination of Javed Omar and Tushar Imran facing the likes of Shane Bond or Daryl Tuffey, and maybe you can empathize with my fears. He looks comically lost dealing with anything above the waist delivered with any kind of pace. Also not at all a clean hitter of the ball, he is slow to pick up the pitch and line of deliveries early, and looked in obvious discomfort facing the dubious might of Sharif, Robin, Niaz and Rubel. He struggled to decipher and read the painfully gentle flight, loop and pace variations he faced from no frills, limited, but tenacious slow bowlers like Rubel, and was totally out-classed facing the quality of a resurgent Mohammad Rafiq, in fact the only quality bowling he faced during his trip to Dhaka. During his recent most 5 days of cricket, he and his comfort levels never looked liked anything other than a live, hazy video-stream buffering way too often. Vettori and Patel are more than likely to turn his batting into a low resolution thumbnail which becomes even lower in resolution once you click to enlarge, if he manages to survive the Kiwi seamers first.
I think until he improves technically, meaning improves his footwork both in and outside the crease, consistently closes the gap between his bat and pad, learns to play cleanly with a straighter bat with his head where it should be, and does whatever he needs to do to improve his hand-eye coordination against quality pacers and turners of the ball, he needs to wait before an ODI debut which can benefit his country alongside his own confidence levels. I feel that he’s at least two years of hard work away from a proper international debut, and is far behind other, more technically sound top order prospects led by Zunaed Siddique, a resurgent Nafees Iqbal, this year’s Imrul Kayes, a dramatically improved Tamim Iqbal, a back-in-rhythm Nazmus Sadat, the steadily improving Jahirul Islam are all ahead of him in that order, and in all forms of the sport. Grammatically correct grafters like Mehrab Hossain Jr. and Mushfiqur Rahim, not to mention a still out-of-form and impertinently spacy Shahriar Nafees, are also far ahead of him technically when it comes to top order batting in test matches.
IV. A humble opinion.
It is true that there have been technically unsound batsmen in international cricket who have produced a lot for their sides, but they tend to be few and far between batsmen who contribute by harnessing their talent within the bounds of batting fundamentals, and consequently apply themselves when it counts the most. What we’re talking about here is the unseen wonders of Mohammad Nazimuddin within the confines of a Bangladeshi reality, and not the well-document production of exceptions to the rules of cricketing grammar like Javed Miandad, Virendar Sehwag or Chris Gayle. If seeing is indeed believing, then Nazim still has miles to go before making me believe that he is capable of coming close to the productivity of the wonderful aberrations mentioned above.
"And do not curse those who call on other than GOD, lest they blaspheme and curse GOD, out of ignorance. We have adorned the works of every group in their eyes. Ultimately, they return to their Lord, then He informs them of everything they had done." (Qur'an 6:108)