Mashrafe’s tale – MOHAMMAD ISAM

Mashrafe’s tale – MOHAMMAD ISAM

A new book on the Bangladesh captain is full of personal stories and details of the struggles he endured to become the country’s first fast bowling hero

“They say even the most ordinary life has an extraordinary story. So in that regard surely Mashrafe Mortaza is something extraordinary. This man has hundreds of tales – of comedy and tragedy and of tears of joy. Mashrafe can easily be called the owner of the most dramatic life in Bangladesh’s sporting history.”
Author-journalist Debabrata Mukherjee’s biography Mashrafe, written in Bengali, is the first significant book about the Bangladesh captain. Mortaza’s international career now spans 15 years, in which his biggest challenge has been dealing with injuries. He has missed matches for long stretches of time (twice he was injured while completing a delivery) but has always shown the ability to fight back. He was the country’s first fast bowling hero, and was appointed captain three times.

In his third stint as captain, now only in limited-overs cricket, Mortaza has overseen an unprecedented run of success for the side, starting in November 2014, during which time Bangladesh have won ODI series at home against Pakistan, India, South Africa, and twice against Zimbabwe, and got to the knockout stage of the World Cup for the first time in their history.

You might think the book would be filled with details of these recent successes, but Mukherjee hasn’t focused on them. Instead, he has delved into Mortaza’s past and discovered a lot more than what is already known about his life growing up in Narail, by the river Chitra.

Mortaza grew up in his maternal grandfather’s house, and his grandmother, Khaleda Rahman Bela, a schoolteacher for many years, was a major influence in his life. The book reveals the respect Mortaza had for her.

He moved to Dhaka for better opportunities in cricket but was rushed into playing for Bangladesh A after he did well for the national Under-17s. Soon, despite a back injury, he made his Test debut, against Zimbabwe in November 2001. A few months later he was injured again, this time his ankle and back giving way after he was made to bowl 26 overs in a day in a Test in New Zealand.

Thus began his period of struggle, and Mukherjee captures well the ins and outs of Mortaza’s life during this time. He would return to Narail, where his friends would try to keep his mind off the international cricket he was missing. It was also where he would find the inspiration to make his many comebacks.

Mukherjee discusses Mortaza’s evolving bowling action, but not in great detail, which is one of few omissions in the book. He doesn’t touch upon any aspects of Mortaza’s cricket other than those discussed publicly from time to time.

However, there is in-depth reportage on Mortaza’s career, including his match-winning performances, his relationships with Bangladesh’s coaches, particularly Dav Whatmore, with whom he shares a close friendship, and Jamie Siddons, who he fell out with after being dropped from the 2011 World Cup squad.

Mortaza’s wife and children don’t feature much in the book, which isn’t surprising, given he likes to keep them out of the public eye. But there are plenty of personal stories, particularly to do with his childhood and his special bond with his uncles and friends. The exchange between Mortaza’s father and mother while talking of their marriage (Mukherjee asks: “Love or arranged?”) is a gem. And there are anecdotes also about Mortaza’s own wedding in Narail, when he couldn’t be found to complete the ceremonies because he was busy showing guests around town.

Mukherjee also describes the darker times, when Mortaza was offered a lot of money to join the rebel Indian Cricket League in 2008, and when he was sought by a former Bangladesh cricketer for information about the Dhaka Gladiators just ahead of the inaugural Bangladesh Premier League in 2012.

The book is richer for the access Mukherjee, who wrote an interview-based book about Shakib Al Hasan last year, got from his subject. It has helped him draw an accurate picture of the life of one of Bangladesh’s most iconic players.

Mashrafe
By Debabrata Mukherjee
$15
Bangladesh Cricket Supporters Association

mashrafi

Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo’s Bangladesh correspondent. @isam84

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Original source at http://www.espncricinfo.com/magazine/content/story/973091.html


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