'If you play well one day, the opposition will plan for you the next day'

Mominul Haque does not wish to bask in the glory of his Man-of-the-Series performances against New Zealand when there are mistakes to learn from

Mohammad Isam

October 26, 2013

Comments: 18 | Text size: A | A

Mominul Haque was named Man of the Match, as well as Man of the Series, Bangladesh v New Zealand, 2nd Test, 5th day, Mirpur, October 25, 2013
Mominul Haque: "I wouldn't have scored these two centuries if I hadn't played badly in Zimbabwe" © Associated Press
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Mominul Haque sounds like a young man in touch with reality. It is easy for a 22-year-old in a largely young and impatient dressing room to be like his team-mates. Mominul likes to go about things his own way, and life has taught him to be pragmatic and grounded.

His mother has been ill for a few years and was paralysed last year. He misses her a lot when travelling, so when he got his century in the Dhaka Test, he thought of her and how happy she must be while watching him on television. Perhaps it's also why he doesn't celebrate much.

When he used to return home to Cox's Bazar on school breaks, Mominul said, his mother would be standing at the door waiting to hug him. This time, when he went home after the Chittagong Test to celebrate Eid with his family, she was sitting in a chair. The moment they hugged, Mominul knew how happy she was.

She isn't the only one. Mominul's 376 runs in the two home Tests against New Zealand earned him the Man-of-the-Series award, to go along with his Man of the Match for his unbeaten 126 in the second Test. Both his hundreds in this series were scored when the team was in trouble - in Dhaka, Bangladesh were 55 for 2 after conceding a first-innings lead of 155, and in Chittagong, he made his maiden Test hundred after walking in with the score at 8 for 2.

The two centuries follow an up-and-down start to his Test career this year. After making two fifties in Sri Lanka, Mominul struggled to convert good starts in Zimbabwe and was even dropped from the ODI team.

"I wouldn't have scored these two centuries if I hadn't played badly in Zimbabwe," he said. "I scored 23 and 29 there. It is a big crime to get out when you're set at the crease. If I hadn't made those mistakes, I wouldn't have come this far. There are a lot of big lessons from these small mistakes. I have learned this since my childhood.

"You have to remember that you are scoring the runs, but you have to make it a big one. If you score four or five ducks in a row, that's definitely bad. But scoring 20s and 30s doesn't necessarily mean the end of the world. I wasn't playing badly at that time in Zimbabwe. I thought a lot about it and worked on things."

He eliminated a blind spot to do with deliveries that knocked him in the ribcage and on his pads. Mominul couldn't contain the bounce in Zimbabwe, where even medium- pacers frustrated him. After a couple of months of intense training during the off season, he made the most of the run-scoring opportunities against New Zealand.

"I scored quickly in Chittagong to get to the hundred and then slowed down. They had plans in place for me in Dhaka. They put a deliberate leg-side field, with four and sometimes five fielders, and bowled to me there. Tamim bhai certainly helped me when that happened.

"With the hundred in Dhaka, I understood some things about international cricket. At this level if you play well one day, the opposition will plan for you the next day. The off-season work on my leg-side techniquecertainly helped me," said Mominul.

Former Bangladesh fielding coach Mohammad Salahuddin is a mentor to Mominul, like he is to many other top cricketers in the country. Mominul usually calls him up when he's having problems. This time he also got a pep talk from two others.

 
 
"Shakib bhai and Tamim bhai told me that it is a crime to get out in the 20s. They said, 'You have to make sure the starts are converted into big knocks'"
 

Talking to Salahuddin sir helped me. Shakib bhai and Tamim bhai also had a talk with me after I hadn't done well in Zimbabwe. They told me that it is a crime to get out in the 20s. It means that you're not settled in the team. They said, 'You have to make sure the starts are converted into big knocks.'"

Salahuddin was also an influential figure in Mominul's growth, particularly when he made it into the Bangladesh Krira Shikkha Prothisthan academy. His parents weren't sure if it would be a good idea for the youngster to move from Cox's Bazar to the Savar-based sports institute, but Mominul's love for the game won them over.

"My parents said no at first, but when sir talked to them, they agreed. I was a decent student, not great. If I was a good student, they wouldn't have let me go to BKSP.

"I used to play in the neighbourhood in Cox's Bazar. There used to be a BKSP camp there, which I joined. A coach told me to try my luck getting admitted to BKSP, and I did."

But Mominul is not optimistic about the chances of other cricketers like him emerging from the picturesque beach town on the southern shores of Bangladesh. "It will be very difficult for them to come this far. There are no facilities there, no league happening for two years. If I had stayed in Cox's Bazar, I would have struggled. I was lucky to have gone to BKSP and made it this far," he said.

The distance he has travelled is impressive. Mominul is known to be one of the fittest players in the team, he fields well, and improves his batting every innings.

He had a fever before the start of the Dhaka Test and played while running a high temperature. By the time he had rescued Bangladesh on the fourth day, he looked exhausted. "It was a tough innings in that sense. There is pleasure in playing well when you're not 100% well. I didn't understand how difficult it would be, so there was something to learn from it. In the future if I have to play in such a situation, I can adapt quickly. I missed a few singles for Shakib bhai. It was hard for me to breathe at times," Mominul said.

Tamim Iqbal said that Mominul reminded him of Shakib Al Hasan, a man whose will power gets him past plenty of barriers on and off the field.

Bangladeshi batsmen don't often do well when asked to bat for survival, but Mominul has certainly defied the sceptics. His attitude is also praiseworthy. Two centuries in two Tests, and instead of waiting to embrace the impending stardom, Mominul is clearer than ever before that he has a very long way to go.

Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent. He tweets here

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© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by   on (October 31, 2013, 21:06 GMT)

very good and inspiring article for every one. Mr. Issam, you deserve a gratitude.

Posted by   on (October 28, 2013, 12:36 GMT)

Good luck , Little champs Mominul!

Posted by   on (October 28, 2013, 6:28 GMT)

I liked Mominul's attitude from the 1st time I was him to play in Sri-Lanka and realized that he is going to be a big asset to the BD team. I found his batting approach is very much mature. Wish him good luck and success. BD team now need couple of world class pacer to dominate in the world cricket.

Posted by   on (October 28, 2013, 4:22 GMT)

Mominul's batting is A-Class. I joke with my Pakistani friends that they should hire him as a mercenary batsman to shore up their pathetic batting line-up. After reading Issam's piece, I am so impressed by the maturity of this very young man. At 22 he is wise beyond his years. Today, he is without doubt the best batsman in the Tiger line-up. Today, Bangladesh; tomorrow the WORLD!

Posted by   on (October 28, 2013, 3:52 GMT)

Well-judged Cricketer....... We do not need supper talent but we need hard working performer

Posted by FirojAlam on (October 27, 2013, 12:48 GMT)

Its a good artlcle by Mr. Isam. You deserve thanks.

Posted by Warm_Coffee on (October 27, 2013, 11:57 GMT)

Special young player in World Cricket. He's going to destroy pathetic bowling attacks of i.e. India, Sri Lanka etc.

Posted by ThatsJustCricket on (October 27, 2013, 3:08 GMT)

Nice to see his feet firmly grounded even after a successful series. Good luck and keep going.

Posted by   on (October 27, 2013, 1:39 GMT)

Any human being who is good to their parents then for sure Allah (SWT) will grant them the highest of rewards, Inshallah! Mominul, you have a great attitude mate. It is very rare that a Bangladeshi player welcomes the mistakes then tries to identify these mistakes and then goes about to better themselves from it. Not only will you benefit from this, but you shall be a shining example for others to follow. One advice to you and others is my friend that before you raise your hands to ask anything from Allah (SWT) please praise Allah (SWT) name first then the Holy Prophet Mohammad (SAW) name then raise your hands and ask any favour from Allah (SWT) and Inshallah He will grant it. You are genuine in your thoughts, character and the way you play cricket.

Posted by Lermy on (October 27, 2013, 0:18 GMT)

Great article on personal insight of a player or two. Pity we can't get that sort of insight from the live commentators, so we knew something about how the players had got there. Sometimes its easy to think its just another faceless player, but some of these people have amazing and inspirational stories. Also interesting to hear about the challenges for the game in Bangladesh, so more power to those that make it!

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