Bangladesh v West Indies, 1st Test, 4th day, Chittagong October 24, 2011

The posterboy of journeymen cricketers

Elias Sunny has graduated from the rigours of a nine-year domestic career to claim the national spotlight

The four wickets Elias Sunny picked up on the fourth day of the first Test against West Indies in Chittagong are just reward for a hardworking man who lives in a city - Dhaka - where cricket as a career is on the wane. They've also catapulted him into the spotlight, after nine years on the domestic circuit.

"Everyone was excited," Sunny told ESPNcricinfo, reliving the moment when Shahriar Nafees swung him around after he'd picked up his maiden Test wicket. "They congratulated me and were very happy for me. Every cricketer wants to play Test cricket. When Shakib [Al Hasan] put on the [Bangladesh Test] cap for me, I really loved that moment."

As far as journeymen cricketers go in Bangladesh, Sunny is now the poster boy. In domestic cricket, he has produced all-round performances for Dhaka Premier League clubs, churning out important runs and wickets for Dhaka (his hometown) and Chittagong (his birthplace). From the Surjo Tarun club, where he began playing in 2002, to the now-defunct Sonargaon Cricketers, to Cricket Coaching School and Bangladesh Biman, where he has spent the last two seasons, Sunny has always been among the top wicket-takers (top batsmen, too, on occasions). He has proved to be a value-for-money player, and, more importantly, has lost form on very few occasions.

In first-class cricket as well, Sunny's adaptability with both ball and bat has been his strength. He has not had issues switching between four-day and one-day mode, and has often bowled well under pressure. He looks particularly assured when dishing out deliveries that dip or come into the right-hander. His nine five-fors are split between Chittagong (5) and Dhaka (4), the last three coming in 2010.

He has opened for Chittagong on several occasions. Initially, he was a stop-gap opener, but as he quickly adapted (once again), the divisional side used him at the top with more consistency. His maiden century, though, came down the order for Chittagong, a solid 176. In the last couple of seasons, his form has been outstanding. His Premier League stats are impressive and he has been in great demand among the clubs. For Dhaka, he had struck two centuries within a month.

And so, he got his chance with the national team. The moment Shakib placed that Test cap on his head, his story hit new highs. This was not the clichéd "dream come true" moment, though, simply because he had given up on playing international cricket a couple of years ago. Back then, Sunny hardly pushed to play for one of Dhaka's giants, Abahani and Mohammedan, as his ambition was stalled after being repeatedly ignored. It was only when he was called up to the Bangladesh A team earlier this year, for the tour of South Africa, that he dared to hope once more.

Sunny also happens to be a popular taped-tennis ball player in Dhaka's neighbourhood tournaments. He began playing cricket with the modified ball at a very early age at the Abahani ground (now the Dhanmondi Cricket Stadium), and then progressed to a cricket ball at the Discovery Cricket Academy.

He played out his nine-year domestic career in five and a half hours of Test cricket on Monday - all the ups and downs that culminated in the wicket of Shivnarine Chanderpaul late on the fourth day in Chittagong. His courage to flight the ball had paid off three times already. Though the veteran, Chanderpaul, had struck him for two sixes and Marlon Samuels for three consecutive boundaries, he still flighted it, and it worked once more in the penultimate over of the day. He is now just a wicket away from becoming only the fourth Bangladesh bowler to take a five-for on Test debut, behind Naimur Rahman, Manjurul Islam and Mahmudullah. He should get there, provided the elements don't conspire against him on Tuesday.

Mohammad Isam is senior sports reporter at the Daily Star in Dhaka

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on October 25, 2011, 14:49 GMT

    Wel done Sunny Boy. But don't forget that you have to go long way, if you think that you will play for Bangladesh. I hope that you will not follow some of your fellows like Asharaful. You guys get the all world class services from Bangladesh but still I don't understand why BD cricketers sometimes lost their way. Don't forget that Bangladesh giving you (guys) all what BD can give.......So now your turn to make Bangladesh Smile. Fight like Tigers........not like Cats. Do or Die. We Bangladeshi people love HEROES not COWARDs.

  • Zahid on October 25, 2011, 8:39 GMT

    Well done Sunny! Hope you have a very very successful career!

    I believe Bangladesh has a bright future with players like Sunny. Here are some of the most promising players from the Bangladesh Domestic Cricket roster:(imo) 1. Saqlain Sajib, 2. Sohag Gazi, 3. Shaker Ahmed, 4. Anamul Haque, and 5. Shuvagata Hom (had an international debut already)

  • Dummy4 on October 24, 2011, 23:56 GMT

    Let's go Sunny. Don't be happy with just 4 or 5 wickets. This is the beginning. Forget the previous selectors and battle everyday. You got the wicket of Chanderpaul who has over 9000 runs in your debut. You have got the abilities.

  • kaz on October 24, 2011, 23:21 GMT

    Glad for Sunny, had a feeling he would be well suited for the Bangladesh Team, hope he gets his 5 for and has a successful test career. Hopefully this will allow the Bangladesh selectors to give more players who are successful in the domestic cricket to be given a chance to shw their ability. Players like Kayes have had too much chances in the Test squad and will like to see Shuvogato Hom given the chance in Test cricket aswell as Rajin Saleh who deserves a chance. Anamul Haque will be a good choice to have a go.

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