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Having just relished Mashrafe Mortaza’s recent first ball dismissal, the author reminisces about the best ball yet bowled by a Bangladeshi bowler. His minds eye takes him back to home Test versus Australia at Fatullah.

The best ball bowled by a Bangladesh bowler..yet

Published: 3rd June, 2007


Mashrafe Mortaza’s recent first ball dismissal of India's Jaffer reminded me of the best ball I have seen bowled by a Bangladeshi as yet. You may have your own personal favorite but what follows is mine.

The Bangladesh – Australia series in 2006 was not covered by any TV channel in the UK. However, the resourcefulness of the Bangali diaspora knows no bounds. Bangladesh cricket fans came up with several options to follow the matches on the web with varying degrees of legality one presumes. But I remain eternally grateful for one such tip. The tipper I do not remember, but he enabled me to make a massive financial killing though not of the monetary kind!

Somewhat apprehensively, I parted with $15 using my credit card to watch the series. But I need not have worried. Soon after I entered my password, a tiny screen emerged on my laptop. I saw Bangladesh play as yet its best test innings with Nafees excelling, sweeping particularly well against Warne. What followed, my return on investment, merited an SEC inquiry.

Bangladesh were all out for 427 soon after lunch on the second day. The Australians were soon in trouble. Hayden went cheaply. But Hussey, sent to open, and Ponting carried on as Australians do. Ponting was lbw to the brisk Shahadat. Martin went soon after not reading Rafique who was bowling very well when Clarke walked in. Hussey was also soon bowled by Rafique.

Ponting’s injudicious remarks about the hosts’ right to Test status had riled the Bangladeshis. Clarke and an uncharacteristic Gilchrist plodded on. To cut the preamble short, they added a pedestrian 18 runs off 7 overs.

31.2 Enamul Haque jnr to Clarke, OUT: ripper! flighted delivery on the

31.2 Enamul Haque jnr to Clarke, OUT: ripper! flighted delivery on the middle and leg stump line, drifting in with the arm and this one turned square after hitting the deck, Clarke was clueless, ball turns away just enough to beat the outside edge and the off stump is pegged back

Enamul Haque Junior, to give his official name, had bowled spectacularly against Zimbabwe in the home series a year earlier. This was not good enough for Whatmore and company to pick him in England because as the explanation went, you needed three seamers in England! So, we picked Anwar Hossain Manju for the two Tests here. Remember him? But I digress. I must return to the ball. So my story can really begin.

It was the 32nd over when Habibul Bashar turned to Enamul. Clarke played the first ball, bowled from round the wicket, defensively.

As Enamul walked in for his second ball, there was nothing to indicate that a moment of true magic was about to be conjured.

He flighted the ball and it simply soared into the atmosphere almost at zero pace, if that were possible. Newton’s law of gravity was simply suspended. As Enamul himself explained later, he had concealed the shiny side inside thus letting the ball drift. To me that is the science part of the delivery. The romance is in the arts of it!

Modern television cameras are very sophisticated. They capture the minutest movement of the ball. Even the maker’s name is visible. However, no such technology could pick up the thin string, so thin that it could only be measured in nanometers, but a thousand times stronger than the spider’s thread, that Enamul had attached to the ball.

The ball had soared into space. It was meant to follow a parabolic route. That is what Clarke also thought. Little did he know that the wily Enamul was about to tug that string. As he gave that invisible tug, the ball lost pace, the flight changed. Clarke lunged forward in a classical forward defensive style, bat and pad together, knowing the ball would hit the middle of the bat as was pre-ordained. It was not to be. The ball fell well short.

So far I have only revealed the intricacies of the flight. But what about the spin! King Warne was in the pavilion next man in. But he too must have been impressed by the sheer rip that Enamul had given the ball. Clarke had already been, what cricketers knowledgeably refer to as, beaten in flight. But the ball had more mysteries to offer.

As it made its descent from orbit, the ball hit Fatullah’s turf. No other projectile has ever made such an impact. It spun viscously out of Fatullah’s green earth, metamorphosing into a lethal cobra. Only Bangalis can tell you about the cobra’s sting. This is not the time or place to discuss that. Suffice to say, the ball spat like a cobra’s venom and sprung out for its prey. Clarke had not seen a Bengali cobra before but Khaled Mashud had. His gloves had transformed into a snake charmers pouch. He may have seen such snake dance before. He need not have bothered this time.

The ball eluded Clarke’s broad bat – by a cat’s whisker. It did not reach Mashud’s pouch. The timber behind Clarke rattled. But only the off bail was disturbed. Or, so I like to remember. Clarke looked mesmerized, not believing what he had just seen. In fact, he probably still could hear the snake charmers tune. For a thousandth of a second there was a stunned silence before the entire Bangali nation rose as one.

The best ball by a Bangladeshi had been bowled and Clarke was comprehensively bowled! Australia were 79 for 5 in the 32nd over. What Shane Warne had made of the delivery as he walked in to bat is not recorded. Gilchrist played a responsible heads down test innings. Australia eventually won by two wickets.


About the author(s): Imtiaz Kabir was introduced to cricket in the days of shortwave radio. He later settled in England where he had the opportunity to watch the greats of the last 30 years and more.


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