There are some players in this game of cricket who contains this aptness inside them which differentiates them from everyone else. Anyone who knows the game can set them apart from other players. But what makes things disheartening is when these players can’t reach their level self-actualization. This world has seen many players like them who faded over time despite showing some sparks of their flare to the world. They become a subject of disappointment to the fans who expected more from them.
The case has not been different for Bangladesh who has seen their own handful of players not being able to take themselves to the next level. Among them the names of two cricketers outweights all the other ones. That is Mohammad Ashrafull & Aftab Ahmed. They were once the beacon of Bangladesh cricket. When the country had mostly mediocre players who didn’t had what it takes to create their mark in the international arena.
Mohammad Ashrafull always had an enigma in his batting. Coming into the international platform at such a young age, he displayed some exceptional finesse in his batting. He took the cricket world by surprise when a young boy of only 17 years old scored a century against a stout srilankan side. A side which had ballers of the likes of Chaminda Vaas and Muttiah Muralidharan. Overnight he become a sensation. And Bangladesh thought they found the prodigal player they needed. But he couldn’t deliver the promise he showed on his first day. He had all the cricketing gifts except one. That is consistency. Mohammad Ashrafull had an inclination for playing risky shots when it wasn’t required.
Fifteen years from his test debut when we look back at his career, we see a career of unfulfilled potential. During his last days of playing for Bangladesh he had an average of only 21. He lost his importance on the team as the country slowly had the inception of many quality players. Gradually he lost his position on the squad. His leave from international cricket was a matter of utter disgrace when he was found guilty of match fixing.
When it comes to Aftab Ahmed it was his reluctance to hardwork & training that caused his downfall. Aftab Ahmed was a natural strokes maker. As a 14-year-old, Aftab made his debut in the BCB-recognised equivalent of first-class matches. He made one first-class century in the next four years, and was picked to play for Bangladesh the following year, having long been considered a young talent.
Aftab Ahmed was one of Bangladesh’s best fielders. His first ODI fifty came in Bangladesh’s maiden. A month later, he and Mohammad Rafique thumped Zimbabwe in a series deciding ODI. When everyone else crumbled in England, he enthusiastically stroked an 82 runs innings(eventually his only Test fifty). Two weeks later, his six and winning single sealed possibly the greatest upset of all time, Bangladesh beating Australia in Cardiff. Match-winning fifties, a much-loved style of batting, lightning reflexes and agility in the 30-yard circle. He was a batsman that could be relied.
Aftab ahmed had all the physical attributes to be the best.He was flexible,fast, had good batting sense and quick reflexes. But what was missing was his drive to excel. He never actually pushed himself to reach his full potential. He never cared much about training. He had an aversion to physical strain. There were times when he used to sleep when his mates were sweating in training.
That is the reason Aftab Ahmed never got his form back after getting an injury in 2008. Going to into a beef with the Bangladesh cricket Board (BCB) for playing in the ICL further prolonged his absence from the squad. Aftab soon lost his touch. Despite coming back into the team 2010 he couldn’t adjust himself because of his long absence from the team associated with lack of physical stature.
Mohammad Ashraful & Aftab Ahmed carried the mantle for Bangladesh Cricket when there was no one else. They played major role in some of the greatest wins of the country’s history. Bangladeshi People still loves & revers them with their hearts out. If they could have properly utilized what they had, they would be sitting in peer with players of the next level.