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Historical Article

Cricket in Bangladesh

Cricket is as old in Bangladesh as its history in the subcontinent. Once the favourite pasttime for the richer section of the people, the game of cricket has over the years become popular among the masses, perhaps a close second only to football.

In British India cricket was confined to the rich and educated. Hence its follwers were also limited. But interest for cricket gradually mounted with Pakistan's first ever Test victory at Lucknow in 1952. People started talking about Fazal Mahmood, Hanif Mohammed, Imtiaz Ahmed, Khan Mohammad and AH Kardar.

But the victory at the Oval in 1954 left an indelible mark in the minds of all and sundry. Cricket became an instant sucess and Fazal Mahmood a hero.

Since then there was no loking back. Like many other things, cricket had to be reorganised after the liberation. The initial period was crucial for the game. There were many who thought that the game should be discarded and some of them were quite powerful. But the threat was squarely met by the new but equally powerful general secretary of the BCCB Mr. Muzaffar Hussain Pattu. Cricket got a new lease of life.

In 1972/73, the first division cricket league was organised but due to unavoidable circumstances it could be completed.

Despite the non availability of cricket gears, the organisers and the players exhibited remarkable determination in starting the first national championship in 1973/74. Thiswas the first major tournament in the country followed by many others and today as many as nine tournaments are making their rounds every year.

In 1975/76, the Bangladesh Cricket Control Board was reorganised. The new secretary Mr. Raeesud Din Ahmed, himself a cricketer of repute, took up the challenge of restoring cricket to its rightful place. Mr. Robin Marlar, a noted British journalist, who was a succesful cricketer himself, and Syed Ashraful Haq, another Bangladesh cricketer, along with Mr Ahmed succesfully organised a tour of Bangladesh by an MCC team lead by Ted Clarke in 1976. The team included some English county players and played matches in Rajshahi, Chittagong, Jessore and Dhaka.

The tour was a great success and a result Bangladesh was admitted to the ICC as an associate member in 1977.

In 1977/78 a strong team from Sri Lanka enthralled the crowds at Dhaka, Rajshahi,Mymensingh and won the three day unofficial 'Test' match at the Dhaka stadium. In March 1978,the Deccan blues from India lead by former Indian skipper Ajit Wadekar played a three day match at Dhaka. The team had some test prospects like Narasimha Rao and Jayantilal. The match was drawn.

Ted Clark came back in 1978/79 with the MCC and played a number of matches. This team included former test players John Jameson and Richard hutton and former West Indian opener Conrad Hunte. The local players performed creditably against them. Michael Mence, a membeer of Clark's team, captained the third MCC visit in 1979/80. The local players performed well losing only the one day match in Dhaka.

Pakistan took time off from the Indian tour of 1979/80 and played a match in Chittagong which ended in a fisaco. The Hyderabad blues, an enseblage of Indian Test cricketers past and present toured Bangladesh in 1981/82. Led by the former Indian spinner BS Chandrasekhar, the team included Chetan Chauhan, Anshuman Gaekwad, Rakesh Shukla, Suru NAyak and Roger Binny. The three day match at Dhaka was drawn but our boys lost the one day match.

In March this year a strong Bengal CA team lead by Indian spinner Dilip Doshi and accompanied by Test opener Pranob Roy and some Ranji players won both the three day and one day matches at Dhaka.

In between Bangladesh had made a couple of tours to England and both occasions played in the ICC tournament in 1979 and 1982.

In 1979, Bangladesh won 2 and lost 2 matches. They won against Fiji and Malaysia and lost against Canada and Denmark. But in 1982 they fared well reaching the semifinal where they lost to Barmuda and was placed fourth.

Some of the players played well in the warmup matches against local teams and scored centuried on England soil.

The going has been good so far. In the 12 years Bangladesh cricket still has made remarkable progress. But it has still along way to go. Since liberation new venues of cricket have been created. More and more boys are coming forward to play cricket. The crowds are also increasing. The expectation is building up to see Bangladesh playing official Tests which is the ultimate objective of all these exercises. But it takes time. Sri Lanka had to wait for 30 years. After all, Rome was not built in a day.

[From the May 1983 issue of Cricketer Asia]


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