Abu Jayed has impressed as a Test bowler and it would be interesting to stay how he can maintain his mojo in the long run…….
What catches your attention more these days in a five-day match? Maybe for the last fifteen years, it has been al about a good stroke scripted by a willow-wielder. Either a sweet cover drive or an arrogant cut or pull left you thinking about the next Sachin, Lara or Ponting, but your mind never thought about the Wasim, Waqar, Ambrose r McGrath. Well, cricket is more about batsmen these days! But still, some do emerge amid the majestic exhibition of wristy-strokes and soft-hands.
In Bangladesh’s rather dismal Test journey, the emergence of a Test-quality pace bowler is a rarity. The tale has been all about either Shakib Al Hasan or the rest – a bunch of stroke-makers and left-arm spinners. Yes, the left-arm spinners would come into the conversation more often. The country experienced one Mashrafe Bin Mortaza whose Test career was cut short by injuries and after a long wait a lad named Mustafizur Rahman took the nation by storm, but at present, that also seems like an oasis in the desert.
There have been performers like Shahadat Hossain, Mohammad Shahid, Rubel Hossain, Al-Amin Hossain and Taskin Ahmed. But none could stay longer in Test cricket. Some of them flourished a lot under the charismatic Chandika Hathurusingha and Heath Streak, but faded as soon as they departed. Some of them are limited to 50-over formats while some of them are forgotten names.
In this short list of Test-quality pace bowlers, Abu Jayed Chowdhury Rahi is the latest addition, who is giving hope for a better future, but with hope runs the fear of fading away like others as well.
But let’s be positive.
Former Pakistan star, Aaqib Javed came to Bangladesh two years ago to work with the pace bowlers of High-Performance Squad(HP) and Bangladesh Cricket Team. He sent two quality days with the pacers of HP, where Abu Jayed’s ability as a pacer impressed the Pakistani. He praised a lot about him and when someone like Aaqib praises, you have to take it with enough importance as because, the Pakistani had a great reputation as a pacer and coach and moreover, he had been one of the students of mighty Imran Khan.
The encouragement of Aaqib surely had boosted Abu, but the entry in the national squad was still a long way. Jayed had to spend more time in the batting-friendly decks of Bangladesh domestic cricket. In fact, Jayed made his first-class debut way back in 2010 at Fatullah. The young lad witnessed the rise of Bangladesh cricket and opportunities to run away from him despite showing enough abilities in first-class cricket.
He witnessed the rise and fall of Taskin, who once was his bowling partner at Under-19 level and the emergence and fading away of other pacers, who almost eradicated the school of thought that Bangladesh are dependent on spinners only. The school of Streak and Chandika gave rise to a new Bangladesh, but Abu had to watch all these from outside the team.
Frustrations chipped in, but the young lad never lost hope.
After 1589.4 overs in 109 innings and 64 first-class matches, Abu Jayed was considered to play in white clothes for Bangladesh. But that also might have happened if Mustafiz was fit enough to play. In life, we all need a slice of luck.
Also read: The comeback of Bangladesh bowlers
In the first Test at Antigua on Day 1, Jayed’s experience as a Test cricketer was bitter. Definitely, you don’t expect your team to get crushed for 43 runs within one hour of play. Jayed had to digest this and come out immediately to bowl under the hot sun.
The wicket had dried out and with the sun shining brightly overhead, the conditions were not favourable for pacers. But Jayed’s experience on the flat decks of Bangladesh domestic cricket helped to grow as a pacer and realise about the importance of using the crease and where to pitch the ball more consistently.
Jayed impressed as a pacer from the word go! With the new ball Jayed extracted movement and what impressed me was his ability to bring the ball back into the batters consistently from that full-length. Apart from Mustafiz and Rubel, hardly any pacers could bang the ball back-in so well from a full-length.
Then he had that line in and around that fourth and fifth stump, which creates doubt in the mind of a batsman. While bowling that line, he pulls his length back and pitches it up and he would maintain that length throughout his brief spell.
Bangladesh lost the first Test, but Jayed made an impact and he proved that in the second Test also. Surprisingly, why he was not used on Day 1 still remains a moot question and on the second and third day, he was equally impressive, like his captain Shakib and colleague Mehidy Hasan as a bowler.
At Jamaica, one could see Jayed bowl a bit quicker and generate contrast-swing to baffle the home team’s batsmen. In two Test matches, he picked up seven wickets at an average of 20.42. The number of wickets could have been more had Shakib used him enough on Day 1 of second Test.
It’s still too early to think big about Jayed. The past experiences are not good enough for me or any other Bangladesh followers regarding promising talents. Like his predecessors, Jayed is giving hope. Jayed has shown the qualities to be one of the finest Test pacers from Bangladesh. The young man is good enough for Test cricket and it is up to him and Bangladesh hierarchy to keep him away from the toxic environment and stay focused on his game more.