Mominul Haque is now the joint highest century-maker in Test cricket for Bangladesh alongside Tamim Iqbal, and has taken 24 fewer Tests to get there. However, the difference between his home and away records is too great to conclude that he is as yet world class…..
It is perhaps the toughest task in world cricket of the present day to emulate the run-making deeds of Virat Kohli. However, Mominul Haque went one better. He equalled Kohli’s four centuries in the calendar year of 2018, highest in world cricket. Not only that, the Bangladesh batsman managed the feat in just 7 Tests while Kohli has taken 10.
It was Mominul’s 120 that propelled Bangladesh to 315 for 8 at Chittagong, even as Shannon Gabriel tore through the middle order.
The 27-year-old from Cox Bazar is approaching perhaps the salad days of his career, and at the end of this productive first day at his favourite Zahur Ahmed Chowdhury Stadium, he sits pretty with 2472 Test runs at 44.94.
If we move away from the lens of Bangladesh and look at his figures from the perspective of the world of cricket, we can perhaps single him out as the first Bangladesh batsman who comes off as a top breed Test performer whose overall numbers back him up.
Of course, Tamim Iqbal is an accomplished opening batsman who has improved over the years. Mushfiqur Rahim has been outstanding in the past couple of years. Shakib Al Hasan, given that batting is merely half his job on the cricket field, has an extraordinary record with 3700-plus runs at an average touching 40.
But, both in terms of consistency and performance, Mominul is perhaps the one Bangladesh batsman who can vie for the adjective ‘world-class’ with overall statistics to reinforce the claim.
In that regard, it is quite a surprise that he is as yet not accorded the same degree of status and does not spark off the same hysteria as some of the big names of Bangladesh cricket do. But then, he is still young.
At the same time, there are some glaring question marks about that very ‘world class’ claim. That comes into focus immediately as we probe slightly deeper into the numbers.
As of now, Mominul has 8 hundreds from his 32 Test matches, which is a very decent rate. It puts him at par with Tamim, but the opener has played 24 more Tests.
However, 20 of Mominul’s Tests have been played in Bangladesh. In the 12 Test matches he has played away from home, his highest score is 77.
No other batsman in world cricket has had 8 or more centuries without any scored away from home.
What is more curious is that 6 of the 8 hundreds have come at the same venue.
Indeed, he averages 25.04 for his 576 runs overseas, while his 1896 runs at home have come at a staggering 59.81.
While his 36 home innings have seen 8 hundreds and 6 fifties, he has managed just 6 fifties in 23 knocks on foreign soil.
The difference between home and away records is incredibly huge. And therein lies the problem.
At home, Mominul is the best batsman ever produced by Bangladesh by a long distance. Shakib’s 40.36 and Tamim’s 38.68 stand distant seconds compared to his 59.81.
However, away from home, it is a completely different story. Shakib (38.47), Tamim (36.58), Mushfiqur (36.20) are far better performers.
|Bangladesh batsmen in Bangladesh
|Bangladesh batsmen away from home
Be it pace or spin, Mominul has struggled to come to terms with high quality and even not so potent attacks around the globe.
He has not played in England as yet, and his only foray in New Zealand had been a tall-scoring affair where he got a handy 64. So perhaps his ability to negotiate swing is still untested.
But other than that the failures have come thick and fast. He has been ill at ease against Gabriel in West Indies and Dilruwan Perrera in Sri Lanka, equally susceptible to Umesh Yadav and Ravichandran Ashwin in India.
Yes, Mominul has been an asset for Bangladesh in Bangladesh, and I daresay that had he played in an era without satellite television beaming the pictures live from different parts of the world and cricket websites providing real-time data at the click of a button, he could have been touted as a great hero. However, as the figures above show, there is definitely an enormous amount of work that remains to be done to enable him to become respectable away from home, to keep the ‘world-class’ tag intact even on closer scrutiny.
In some ways, his numbers are similar to the former West Indian almost-great Lawrence Rowe.
In 30 Tests, Rowe accumulated 2047 runs at 43.55, with 7 hundreds. 1310 at 59.54 with 5 hundreds were accumulated at home, 737 at 29.48 with 2 hundreds abroad.
A staggering 567 of Rowe’s runs were obtained at Sabina Park at 113.40 with 3 hundreds.
Similarly, Mominul has 989 runs at Zahur Ahmed Chowdhury Stadium, at 89.90 with 6 hundreds.
It underlines a preference for home grounds, as well as a very stark comfort zone.
However, Mominul is just 27. This year, helped by mentor Mohammad Salahuddin, he has brought about technical changes in his batting that has worked wonders. The biggest change has perhaps been in the ability to go front and back against spinners without telegraphing his intentions or being rooted to the spot.
Perhaps this will help him in conquering demanding spin attacks on difficult subcontinent pitches. Perhaps there have been other technical adjustments as well, or some more are in the offing, which will help him counter incisive pace bowling in far-off lands.
Perhaps he will do much better away from home down the line. However, till that takes place, the numbers are too skewed in favour of his home record to conclude that he is indeed a force to reckon with in world cricket.