Aftab Ahmed, batting against New Zealdn
Aftab Ahmed was arguably one of the most exciting talents ever to emerge from Bangladesh. But sadly, his cricketing journey didn’t last longer. Bangladesh cricket saw the end of another promising career in a sad manner.
The young talent from Chittagong
Aftab Ahmed was born in Chittagong and it was because of his father’s influence he took cricket seriously. His talent started to catch the attention of the selectors and during the Under-19 World Cup in 2002 the selectors were highly impressed with his confidence and aggressive stroke-play.
Aftab was picked in Test squad in the following year against England, despite failing to impress in the warm-up matches. His selection was not welcomed by the local press and the little boy had to wait one more year to play for Bangladesh. Aftab’s dawn was just breaking.
Aftab was just playing his third one-day international at the Bangabandhu National Stadium, Dhaka. The Tigers were defending a mere total of 146-run against the touring New Zealand side. From that New Zealand side, chasing such a total was supposed to be a cakewalk, but suddenly a little man’s gentle medium-pace bowling simply made the New Zealand batting order to reel.
From 76 for 1, the Kiwis had slumped to 133 for 7. Among those seven wickets, that little boy had grabbed five and each dismissal was celebrated with a smile full of life – a silent local crowd had found something to cheer. Even though his selection in the team was as a batsman, he caught everyone’s attention with his bowling and since then, he bowled ten overs in most of the matches he played in.
His batting was a celebration
The talent of Aftab dazzled more in limited-overs than Test cricket. Very soon he established himself as one of the vital members of Bangladesh cricket team.
He was an aggressive stroke-maker and bulldozed the bowlers with his bat mercilessly. He was happier on the front foot, but could shift his balance on the back foot as well and execute the hook and pull shot with enough confidence. He was able to drive, cut and loft with enough power and could innovate when needed. Aftab’s batting was a celebration of sport.
But when the situation demanded, Aftab used to check his attacking instincts and played the role of a sheet anchor. He was involved in quite a few effective partnerships during his short limited-overs cricket career which proved critical in scripting Bangladesh’s success. His batting became a symbol of courage and confidence in Bangladesh cricket.
Sad end to a promising career
In 2008, Aftab and many of the national team players joined the rebel Indian Cricket League (ICL) and were handed a ten-year ban by the Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB). After playing in the ICL for one year, he quit and made himself available for national team selection. But that confidence of Aftab was lost. He was last seen to play for Bangladesh in 2010 and since then, he became an unknown face.
Recently, Aftab announced his retirement from all forms of the game. It’s pretty hard to accept the sad end of such a promising career at the age of 29. But the fact is, yet another talent from Bangladesh has failed to fulfill the expectations.
So far, many promising talents have emerged from Bangladesh cricket, but sadly they didn’t last longer. Why such things happen remain a moot question. The BCB must be smart enough in preserving such talents. They need to act like a sensible guardian. We wish to see flowers blossom and not fade away.