Manjural Islam Rana seems to be the new find for Bangladesh in the recently concluded Zimbabwe test series. He batted with aplomb in the first innings which enabled Bangladesh to post their highest ever score against Zimbabwe. In the second innings he again showed his precocious maturity when things unfolded rather badly for the tourists on the evening of the fourth day. At 18 for 5 Bangladesh was in danger of breaking the all time lowest test score of 26. He showed immense cricketing sense and courage to keep his head down and guide Bangladesh to a somewhat respectable total. His talent was also there to see when he top scored for his team in the first innings of the second test, when Bangladesh plunged amidst the rain and was in danger of loosing the test even though the first two days were washed out. So far this is all plain sailing for Manjural. But what the future hold for him? You might ask what type of question is it. He is sure to be one of the future stars of Bangladesh who would carry us to cricketing glory. Let?s look back.
In the 1990?s we had Aminul Islam Bulbul, Akram Khan and Minhazul Abedin. When they were young, they showed considerable talent. At their early age, they were almost at par with Morris Odumbe and Steve Tikolo. But while the later two carried on their early promise and shone on the international scene, our stars faded along the way. Sure enough they played some important knocks here and there but none of them fulfilled the early promise. While the Kenyan duo have 25 50?s and a century between them in 124 one day internationals, our trio combined for 10 50?s in 110 matches. And whereas our trio?s international career seems to be over, the Kenyan duo are marching on. What went wrong? Before attempting to answer this, let?s look at the newer generation.
First on the list is Muhammad Ashraful. What a wonderful test debut it was! He was basically chosen for his leg spin. In the first innings he came in at no. 7 and was the last man out after top scoring in a disastrous total of 90. Then came the second innings, Bangladesh was again looking down the barrel at 81/4 with 400+ runs to score to force Sri Lanka to bat again. The captain has already seen enough promise in his young prodigy to send him before him. What followed is now history, probably the greatest individual achievement in our short cricketing history. He clubbed all the bowlers including the great Muralitharan to all parts of the ground to score a swashbuckling century with 16 sweetly stroked boundaries. Surely there was a kid who was destined to lead his country out of the doldrums in which it was badly stagnant. But did he? 691 runs in 17 tests and 326 runs in 24 one dayers does not suggest so. What went wrong?
What about Alok kapali? He started with a decent 39 against Sri Lanka. That 85 against West Indies in Chittagong suggested great things to come. But did they come? No. Instead now he is out of the first 11 despite being singled out by his captain to be the best batsman of his team. What went wrong?
Can the answer be that we are happy with mediocre performances? Do we raise our players to the superhero status too early? Starved as we are for sporting success, it is very much possible that this is what we do. Our adulations with relatively insignificant success might have the effect of reducing the hunger in our potential sporting heroes. Heroes are not born. Let?s not make heroes of undeserving cricket icons. Let them achieve that.