CRICKET STARTS AT 30
Fazle Mahmud’s batting style was once likened to that of Chris Gayle. © Cricbuzz
Uncapped Fazle Mahmud was the only surprise pick in Bangladesh ODI’s squad for the series against Zimbabwe, a selection that marks a noteworthy shift in the selectors’ line of thinking. In a country where players are considered old to represent the country after touching the 30-year mark, Fazle’s inclusion is nothing short of surprise.
Bangladesh’s cricket administrators have been overly passionate about backing youth unlike some other cricketing nations like Australia where cricketers have made belated appearances on the international scene after going through a long grind on the domestic circuit.
Fazle made his list A debut in 2004 and has waited a decade and a half for his breakthrough. He came close to quitting the sport in 2015 when nothing seemed to be going his way. But a productive year in the domestic circuit prompted a change of heart. Now Fazle is a firm believer in the old adage: Better late than never.
“Honestly speaking I am 30. I have seen lots of ups and down in my career and there were times when I wanted to quit but somehow cricket did not allow me to do so. I am fortunate that my wait is over [to join the national team] or you can say my journey starts now,” he added.
The (non) inclusion of Fazle is also a matter of great providence. He has worked himself to the fringes of the senior team in the past only to miss out on selection by the narrowest of margins. Eventually, an injury to Shakib Al Hasan appears to have opened the door for the Barisal man with the team management desperately looking for someone who can bat and bowl a few overs of left-arm spin against Zimbabwe.
Fazle’s form in the Ireland tour with Bangladesh A team also played a big part behind his getting the nod. In three innings, he scored 136 runs at an average of 45.33 and also turned his arm over to pick four wickets at an economy of 5.30. Fazle believes batting is his primary calling card although he is consciously trying to devote more time to his bowling.
“Basically I am not an all-rounder and for me batting is my priority. It is only that now I am also bowling here and there and keep myself ready so that if there is a chance I can seize that,” Fazle said. “I am included as two senior cricketers are not available and my aim is to keep my place so that when they return back I am not excluded and to do so, I must seize every opportunity that comes my way,” he added.
Fazle has been compared with Chris Gayle in the local Bangladesh circuit for his explosive batting at the top, but over time, he has understood that there’s more to batting than hitting out at the top. Fazle seized the spotlight as a dynamic opener during his initial days, but it didn’t pay any dividends as he lost his way for being over aggressive. Now all that early daredevilry has turned into pragmatism, an approach that has transcended beyond his batting.
“It is true that I enjoyed the Gayle tag but in the long run I understood that it had more negative impact on my batting as more often than not my innings ended prematurely. Nowadays I am more concerned on playing ones and twos but that does not imply that I have forgotten to hit sixes,
“I am lot more confident now, especially after the Ireland tour. I was not sure whether I will be picked for the national team or not but I understood there were discussions about me and it made me feel that I am on the right track. For the moment my only aim is to cement the place in the national squad so that at the end of the day I can cherish the reward of my persistence,” he added.