BanglaCricket (BC): Beside the 1997 ICC tournament, what are your fondest memories as a cricketer?
Athar Ali Khan (AAK): There are quite a few and to start with the 1997 ICC Trophy is right at the top.
The biggest honour and proudest moment for me is when I was selected to represent the Bangladesh Cricket Team in the ICC Trophy 1986 (UK).
Bangladesh winning their 1st ODI vs Kenya, Hyderabad, India 1996 (I think the year is right). Mohammed Rafiq opened with me and we added 147 for the opening partnership in that match.
By the Grace of Almighty, I became the very first player from Bangladesh to receive the Man of the Match Award in an ODI (78 no vs SL in Asia Cup, Eden Gardens, 1990).
Every Test, ODI and T20 win by Bangladesh.
BC: Do you think in his prime, GN Prince, was the best fast bowler we have produced up until Mashrafe?
AAK: No doubt Prince was very good but in my opinion Jahangir Shah Badshah was a class apart.
BC: How do you feel about the WC squad overall? Any realistic chance to make it to the next round?
AAK: I did pick up my team before the squad was announced and I had Imrul Kayes, Shafiul Islam and Jubair Hossain in place of Soumya Sarkar, Al Amin Hossain and Arafat Sunny. Having said that the squad does look balanced. First and foremost, I would really like to see Bangladesh set the tone by winning their first encounter with Afghanistan and then think about the rest. Realistically speaking, it's going to be tough in those conditions. Please do not forget that our players do play on flat, low and slow pitches in domestic competitions and therefore they need to adapt and adjust accordingly very quickly. If the Tigers go on to beat Afghanistan and Scotland then I have a feeling that they might create an upset and Insha-ALLAH qualify for the quarter finals.
BC: What is our weakest department going in to this world cup? Is it the fragile top order with Tamim, Anamul (weak footwork), Soumya/Mominul or the fast bowlers?
AAK: The area of concern for me is the batsmen especially the top order. On a number of occasions, the top order has let us down but at the same time they have also scored runs but not on a consistence basis. I have already said that our batters will need to adapt and adjust very quickly on Ausssie and NZ pitches. The other area of concern is Bangladesh do tend to loose wickets in quick succession after a good partnership (this needs to be addressed and stopped by any means to ensure that at least one set batsman go on to stay in the middle for 40+ overs). As for the bowlers, they must try to bowl according to the field set by the captain and maintain good lines and lengths otherwise the opposition will score very heavily.
BC: Which Athar do you enjoy the most: Athar the cricketer? Athar the commentator? Or Athar the selector? And why?
AAK: As long as I am involved with cricket, itis fine with me but if I have a choice then it will always be the cricketer. I loved being a commentator or even a selector but I do believe that all these opportunities came my way since I represented Bangladesh in the past. It has been a very long journey from being a cricketer to a commentator/selector and I thank the Lord above for giving me a chance to stay close to what I love the most and I would also like to thank my parents,family and friends for the encouragement and believing in me for what I did in my life as a youngster.
BC: Besides Bangladesh, which grounds or country has the best commentary box? Who is your favorite partner in the box?
AAK: I have never seen a better commentators box than Mirpur, Chittagong or even Fatullah (Narayanganj). Very frankly speaking the commentary box elsewhere does not have the kind of space that we have here in Bangladesh. I would say the Lords ground and the commentary box are very good. Ian Bishop makes me feel very comfortable in the commentary box.
BC: Who are your ideal commentators?
AAK: Ian Bishop, Michael Atherton, Richie Benaud, Sunil Gavaskar and Ian Chappell.
BC: When commentating, how hard is it to be on the losing side on such a regular basis?
AAK: Initially it was difficult but then I started to realise that there will be quite a few occasions where Bangladesh will struggle especially in Test matches but at the same time I stay positive and believe that the Tigers will take time and show signs of improvement in the future. Bangladesh has been very lucky to see players like Shakib Al Hasan, Tamim Iqbal, Mushfiqur Rahim, Mashrafee Mortaza, Mominul Haque, Mahmadullah Riyad, Nasir Hossain, Rubel Hossain, Taijul Islam, Tashkin Ahmed and others from the present lot. Even in the past I had the pleasure of watching Mohammed Ashraful exploits against India and Sri Lanka in Test matchw, against Australia and England in ODI'ss, Shahriar Nafees's brilliant innings vs Australia. I mean, I can go on and on and that has been to me a breath of fresh air to see players coming through the system and performing against stronger opposition.
BC: Why do we have only 2 known commentators at the international level? Why aren't the likes of Habibul Bashar or Aminul Islam Bulbul getting involved in this area?
AAK: I don't have a clue why, but Iwould love to see more former national cricketers in the commentary box.
BC: If you could bring anyone one of our current players into the commentary team, who would it be? (Bangladesh only)
AAK: One needs to have the passion, desire, understanding of the game and to be able to express his thoughts and feelings. It is difficult to decide since you have asked me to pick only one from the present lot but I am picking two, it has to be either Shakib Al Hasan or Tamim Iqbal. Hoping and praying to see Bangladesh fight until the last ball is bowled.