Tuesday, July 29, 2014
Updated: Sunday, March 10, 2013
|Mohammad Ashraful and Ten Stages of Ox Herding|
To watch Ashraful bat at times is akin to a master tai chi performer in motion. Fluid, poetic, effortless, subtle - one can go on describing his innings with various degrees of nuances. But just like any Icarus, he had his downfall after flying too close to the Heavens.
There have been three centurions this BPL and one of them none from fans' beloved Mohammad Ashraful himself. Like a sage, he has led a wandering life from that of a lost soul to one tasting a sip of Enlightenment only to lose it next second.
Tai chi and sports is not thoroughly incompatible. Phil Jackson, coach of Lakers, regards his signature attack as "Five Men Tai Chi". Additionally, meditation has helped star performer like Tiger Woods. Esoteric and ancient Chinese principles, if adapted and cultivated, can serve as testament to personal growth of awareness, whether it be a quest of spirituality, or striving for perfection in one's art. The illustration of the Ten Bulls originally conceived by Chan practioner Kuòān Shīyuǎn will highlight how a pupil when gets lost in the path to success may find his way back to Enlightenment.
Our protagonist in the journey would be Ashraful. I assert that in spite of mockery and deluge of fame and status, Mohammad Ashraful, remains an asset. If he is back in the national squad at top notch form and if the team gels, then Bangladesh may very well come closer ranking to invincibility in one-day format.
Vigorously cutting a path through the brambles, you look for the ox;
The journey thus begins...
Before his hundred as he himself mentions, he had forgotten how to bat.
Chirping, a yellow oriole on a branch.
Through tremendous effort you have caught ox.
Ashraful had to wait. Next match he would only go on to score 9. However on the 13th match, Ashraful would be bowled by Mominul Haque missing his fifty to score a so-so 35-ball-38. He would be the highest contributor in that match, but Dhaka would go on to lose [scorecard] .
You cannot put whip and tether aside
Looks like Ashraful has yet to balance his yin-and-yang to reinvent himself. But as they say, Eid comes once a year in cricket and that too, when it comes is a sight to behold.
Taking a winding path you ride the ox home.
After a forgettable innings like 14, he would experiment by going on the back gear and score a 48-ball 33. It was a match for Chittagong to win.
You have ridden home on the ox.
Whip and tether, you, the ox all empty.
This is the stage of grace. Pure awareness. Ancilliary wheels fall off; now the master glides freely. This is the time to let go off one's accumulated knowledge, techniques, intelligence and advice. This is where the masters like Amla, Yusuf, Tendulkar, Jayasuria, Ponting, Clarke just create an innings with effortless strokeplay and automatic shot selection. In the master's mind, there are only few moves. One dissolves in his role.
Not everyday Mohammad Ashraful's "official" thread gets bumped up in BC. So when I woke up in the morning and saw the heading of his name, then in a brief soliloquoy the following followed: Mohammad Ashraful. Wait. It's BPL. It can't be true? Cann'it? Damn!
And then as I frantically clicked ESPN link of the 35th Match, thunder struck. Eid! Once again. Jesus Christ. Yes! Nafees till then was the only player with a century in BPL (!?) but as I would hurriedly have to wait for my Eastern Thought class to be over to watch the highlights of him crafting a masterpiece, nothing would have salivated my urges further.
But what was even more astonishing was the sub-dued 94* in 54 ball of Birt (!) . But I could care less and as I rented out headphones in college library to watch the video.. Amongst American onlookers, I could care less what caricature others concocted from same perception because I was simply in Heaven (!!).
IX. Reaching the Source
You have returned to the source; effort is over.
It seems Ashraful only knows one gear. Plus ça change....
Ashraful would seemingly forget his epiphany and revert back to his own self with a stark contrast of a single run against a Gayle's herculean ton. But he had made his mark alright. Dhaka Gladiators can now rely on basically just 1-man show -whether it be Dilshan, Ashraful, Gayle (for 1 match), Anamul Haque, or the soon-to-be man of the series, Shakib al Hasan. It's like Jay Leno's garage. Full of superstar brands under tutelage of Ian Pont's passion for the Tigers.
X. In the World
Mohammad Ashraful has his flaws. He is impuslive, he cuts and edges often getting lucky past slip, cannot switch gears and most importantly lets his fans get to him. But this is the same guy who would go at lengths to meditation seminars and treating Sachin with his culinary hospitality just to progress his games unlike others.
He has the zest, the exuberance and the spirit.
While it would do wonders to his game if he could tweak his shot selection, switch gears effortlessly and cope with mental pressure playing a flawless innings with no drops or edges to slip, but that'd be to miss the point. Ashraful exists with all his flaws, and if we must expect the best off him than we must learn to appreciate his flaws.
Excluded from national team due to dissatisfication by Akram Khan dismissing that Ashraful is not playing to his potential, whilst remaining a very good T20 player (banglanews24), perhaps it does more good than damage. Perhaps it'd bring out his Inner Don to take the team to unheard of heights. Perhaps, but as evinced from the exuberance of a fan, yours, I dare make the case that not exposing him to international arena will stunt his growth. Sure, the pipeline is full of fresh blood, and the man's spirit remains high, as the start he gave in the final match of BPL with a 16-ball-24 before Anamul would steal the show and before he'd perish to an rash aerial skier, hed have already instilled a gusto that cannot otherwise be quantified remaining of true champions.
Now at the eve of a potential double hundred by him, the first Bangladeshi to do so ever, would prove a testament to his unbroken spirit or willpower to achieve the mental block, or to tame the Bull, so to speak, and would prove inspiration to many generations to come.
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