The rise and rise of Mohammad Ashraful
Legspin to leadership
Khondaker Mirazur Rahman
June 20, 2007
Mohammad Ashraful's rise from nets boy via legspinner to Bangladesh's best bat was swift © Getty
In the winter of 1993, at Dhaka's Siddheswary cricket ground, the breeding ground of many Bangladeshi national cricketers, the local Amarjyothi club was holding its practice sessions. Several higher-level cricketers, including Mohammed Rafique, would-be international Khaled Mahmud and Bangladesh A opener Imran Hamid Partho, were part of these sessions.
Also a regular was a lean nine-year-old in oversized whites who would dutifully perform the mundane duties of a ball boy. Once the season ended, however, he disappeared, only to reappear the next season, and once again turn up regularly.
One day Mahmud, the club captain, asked him if he wanted to be a cricketer. Pat came the reply: "Yes. I can bowl some legspin. If you allow me, I can show you."
Mahmud decided to give the youngster a chance to bowl. The first batsman to pad up was Partho, a dashing left-handed batsman known for his mastery over spin bowling. The boy began his run-up with all eyes on him. To everyone's utter disbelief the ball, instead of being hit out of the small ground, deceived Partho with turn and bounce. Partho completely missed the ball and shook his head in disbelief.
Throughout the session, the boy caused all sorts of trouble for the Amarjyothi batsmen and was plainly thrilled at being a part of the practice after long dreaming of participating.
Realising they had a special talent on their hands, the club's officials signed him up the next day and, a day before the season's first game, gave him his first opportunity to bat in the nets. He despatched the ball to all parts of the ground with consummate ease. Later, the boy said," I am a bowler who can bat a bit."