Friday , March 01, 2013 at 17 : 24
One of the most surprising aspects regarding the Bangladesh Test squad for the tour to Sri Lanka was the exclusion of Marshall Ayub, a top-notch performer in domestic cricket. Time and again, Marshall had shown his temperament to occupy the crease and appetite to pile up big scores. But in spite of being consistent he failed to earn Akram Khan and Co's sympathy.
At the same time, the left-arm spinner Enamul Haque Jr was called up. Like Marshall, Enamul has been another consistent player in first-class cricket and deserved a place in the national side. He last featured in the national squad back in 2009 in the historic Test series in the West Indies.
But a day after the announcement of the national squad, cricket fans discovered a twist in the tale. Suddenly, Marshall discovered himself in the squad while Enamul remained the ill-fated boy of Bangladesh cricket. Marshall replaced the injured Naeem Islam while Enamul injured himself in a net session and made way for Elias Sunny. The loss of Enamul is a huge blow. With Shakib Al Hasan not around to carry the Bangladeshi bowling, Enamul was supposed to lead the attack. Sadly, lady luck didn't smile upon him.
But the man to receive another chance to revamp his dying career is Bangladesh cricket's once-upon-a-time toast of the nation - Mohammad Ashraful, who has replaced Shahriar Nafees, who like Enamul and Naeem injured himself during practice. The focus will be on Ashraful and how he utilizes this opportunity to rediscover himself. It was on this same tour that Ashraful burst into the scene as a teenage prodigy 12 years ago, scoring a hundred on debut at the age of 16 against the likes of Muttiah Muralitharan and Chaminda Vaas. Ashraful quickly became the poster boy of Bangladesh cricket but as time progressed, he started to fade away. There were flashes of his talents but they never transformed into success on a regular basis.
In the history of Bangladesh cricket, Ashraful is a very important phenomenon. He has been very influential in giving Bangladesh the realization to script victories by denting the top team's psychology with a mixture of aggression and composure. His clinical hundred against Australia at Cardiff in 2005 and 87 against South Africa in the 2007 World Cup proves that. While he played a few quality attacks in Test cricket, these performances were overshadowed by an ugly inconsistency. Despite his inconsistent performance the selectors still persisted with him but at one stage the selectors' patience was lost. Ashraful was never a regular member in the side.
If one factor is to be blamed behind Ashraful's decline then it's only himself. Ashraful, throughout his career, has always been a very reluctant individual. He never found within himself the discipline and hard work which is much needed to preserve god-gifted talent. No matter how talented an individual might be, if he doesn't work hard and focus on polishing the gray areas then that talent simply gets lost with time.
With the emergence of Shakib, Tamim Iqbal, Mushfiqur Rahim and NasirHossain the need for Ashraful in the side has never been felt. Bangladesh cricket has moved on without its most gifted son. But luck has smiled upon Ashraful again. Very recently, in the domestic cricket, he found himself amongst the runs. Though they weren't enough to earn a Test call amid high profile performers like Mehrab Hossain Jr or Marshall, destiny has given Ashraful another go.
This is his best chance to bring a derailed career back on track. Will we observe a rejuvenated Ashraful or keep on cursing him again for spoiling another golden opportunity?