Gallantry, Thy Name is Shafiul
Every legendary epic has its "diamond in the rough," that unassuming character whose value lies far beyond his appearance perhaps even unbeknownst to himself. Bangladeshi cricket may not yet be an epic, but its pages cannot help but be soaked in the ink of a name. Shafiul Islam.
"He's just a boy, 21." Youthful at first glance, what strikes the heart about this skinny man-child can only be described as "simplicity". From the school-boyish haircut to his mischevously childlike laugh, its almost impossible to imagine that this kid is routinely entrusted with the aspirations of 160 million people. He had no domestic record, he was nameless, one to be overlooked. Almost as if to prove his proclamation that he transcends such mortal introductions. Judging from his frame, he's definitely never seen a barbell before, and one would be surprised if he even knew where the nearest gym was. Yet somehow he produces a flourish of skinny limbs that propels a cherry hurtling towards its opponent at nearly 90 miles per hour. Yet he's a testament to how far desire and fearlessness can take you in life.
Not everyone is born with freakish talent. He accepts that; you never see him try to do things he wasn't meant to. You will never see that bouncer thrown down with utter disdain for a batsman's life. He isn't here to light the world on fire with endless skills, aquired in utero, like the now disgraced Mohammad Amir. He isn't even here to lead the wickets column, bamboozle with his swing, nor even to throttle with his pace. He is here to win. Thats all there is to the story.
Its hard for fifteen year veterans, balding with sagacity, with legendary records to back their CV's to pull through at this level. Jaques Kallis will be the first to attest to that. To do so at an age so young, with such regularity, with bat or with ball, with reputation and even with his very life possibly hanging in the balance indicates that his is an epic just beginning to be written...on the immortalized soul of a nation.
Gallantry, thou hast no other name.
Cricket cannot live with the mistaken belief that people want to see big hits. People like to see goals, but no one is talking of moving the goalposts a metre wider either side. (Harsha Bhogle)