Thursday, July 17, 2014

“Cricket is a gateway to achieving your dreams”

Exclusive interview with Enamul Haque Junior

Emdad Rahman

Enamul Haque Junior has had a very eventful cricketing career so far.

The Bangladeshi slow left arm orthodox bowler was a mere 18 years old when he created history by becoming the youngest ever bowler to take ten wickets in a test match. The feat was ever the more significant as it was previously held by the legendary Wasim Akram.

Haque made his senior test debut in 2003 against England in Dhaka. He impressed the board of selectors enough to be awarded a rookie contract with the Bangladesh national team in 2004.

It was early 2005 when Haque came to the attention of the cricketing fraternity. Zimbabwe toured Bangladesh and Haque took 6/45 in the second innings. The haul became Bangladesh's best test bowling figures. In the second test Haque smashed his own record by taking 7/95. At 18 years and 40 days the fledgling star had surpassed a global superstar in Wasim Akram and instantly come to the attention of the cricketing world. His progress continued and by December 2005 Haque reached the milestone of 100 first class wickets after Rafiqul Islam was caught and bowled during a match against Rajshahi.

Haque is currently taking a short break in England during the pre-season and has spent his time catching up with friends, relatives and keeping match sharp by training and playing a cricket with Scintilla Cricket Club in Barking & Dagenham and the London Tigers.

He has been maintaining a strict health regime to keep himself ‘sharp’: “It’s hard in Ramadan but the month should not be used as an excuse to indulge in excesses. I am an athlete and just like many others I have to watch what I eat and when I eat. I have also been training and playing cricket during the weekends has helped me maintain a level of sharpness.”

“I’m on a pre season tour to London during the off season in Bangladesh. I will be playing a few games for Scintilla Cricket Club and the London Tigers to keep my fitness levels up during the off season."

Haque has been impressed by the standards of grassroots cricket in England: “I’m seriously surprised by the skill and stamina level I have seen. The boys I have played against have been dogged, skilful, determined and tenacious and play a seriously a good level of cricket. It’s very good for the game in England.”

We discussed the levels of interest in the game in Bangladesh and the prospects of the national team: “Cricket is a gateway to achieving your dreams.

“Back home people are crazy about cricket. It’s the number one sport in Bangladesh and there is so much passion. A good job is being done to harness this passion and promote cricket. With our current good development, astute selectors and coaches as well as a good crop of youngsters I am confident that in the next few years we can be a good nation of cricket.

“There are some promising youngsters. In Sylhet we have three up and coming left arm spinners who are progressing and will make a big impact if they continue to stay level headed and work hard, namely, Masum who plays for Sylhet Division and  Jabed, who has represented Bangladesh under 19’s and Sylhet Division. There are quite a few stars in the making and I’m confident that our cricket future is in good hands.”

Haque has a good philosophy and understands the need to promote a sustainable legacy for cricket around the world: “Whichever country you play for, domestic cricket is the most important matter for cricketers. It is very important to have a well developed and continually improving domestic game as this is the one way of ensuring you have a very strong and capable national team.

“In Bangladesh, cricket at grassroots levels are continually looked over and talented players are supported in their bid to progress professionally. There is a working structure in place and this means that the Bangladeshi national team will reap the benefits."

Haque’s favourite players are Daniel Vettori and Sakib Al Hasan: “Daniel Vettori is only the 8th player in test history to take 300 wickets and score 3000 runs. He has had an amazing and dream career.

“Shakib Al Hasan is a complete cricketer. “I love his confidence, his bowling and his cricket sense. In my opinion they are cricketers that all younger up and coming players should take as role models.”

Haque has visited Lord’s to watch England play India: “The wicket in England is slow and low which is a change from what we are used to. This is a five test series and I’m very excited as like all cricket fans. I think the lack of a top spinner for India will hand England victory.”

What next for this gifted bowler? “I have been fortunate to have role models from whom I have gained great strength throughout my career. There is Parvez who played for Sylhet Division, Rajin Saleh and Alok Kapali who have been great influences on my career and outlook in life. They represented Bangladesh with heart and soul and I am a big fan who adopted their game styles and incorporated them into aspects of my own play.

“On this point I would like to point out the impact and influence of ex international players like Khaled Mahmud Sujon and Minhaj Nannu on the game back home.

“These are people with super cricket brains and with Nannu becoming a director I am very hopeful and excited at how the game in Bangladesh will progress.”

“I hope that the current group can in the next five years set a goal and take Bangladesh from 10th to 6th in the rankings.

Haque is hopeful about next season: “I’m going to continue working hard, train, play and strive to get back into the folds of the national team. Nothing beats the feeling of stepping out and playing for your country.

“It is a very short career and my advice to young people is to work hard, be committed, and be professional. Cricket is everything in Bangladesh. It has given us dreams and allowed us to soar.

“My future? I will continue to train hard and I’m hoping win a recall to the national team. I’m a proud Bangladeshi. I've fulfilled many dreams through playing cricket and I hope my hard work will earn me a recall. I’m certainly not done yet.

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