The curious case of forgotten hat-tricks
There were three similarities between the hat-tricks of Rubel Hossain and Tapash Baisya from Sunday's Dhaka Premier League matches. Both were the last three wickets of the first innings, both came in defeat, and inexplicably, both men did not immediately realise that it was a hat-trick.
In Rubel's case, it took a discussion in the following morning for him to suddenly remember, rather bashfully, that he took the wickets off the last ball of his second last over, and the first two balls of the last over. Neither did anyone at the ground figure out, as reflected in the newspaper reports of the Brothers Union-Gazi Tank match on Monday.
"It was a hat-trick, of course," Rubel told ESPNcricinfo. "I took the wicket of Suhrawadi Shuvo and then followed it up with Mehrab and Ehsanul's wicket. I didn't realise it at the time of the hat-trick."
Almost at the same time in Bogra, Baisya forgot too. In the final over of the Kalabagan Krira Chakra innings, he removed Naeem Islam, Shahadat Hossain and Rakibul Hasan off the last three balls. Sri Lanka allrounder Jeevan Mendis took the first two catches, and then reminded Baisya that he had completed the hat-trick after Rakibul's wicket.
"It was the last three balls of the innings, so there was not much to cheer about at the time," Baisya said. "Morever, I didn't even realise I got a hat-trick. Jeevan Mendis who took the last catch to dismiss Rakibul Hasan suddenly came and told me that it is a hat-trick."
Baisya's explanation seems plausible but there is also a hint of apathy that pace bowlers are handed in Bangladesh's domestic competitions. How attentive club officials missed two hat-tricks, particularly the Rubel one, seems odd. Batsmen and spinners are given more importance, mainly due to the conditions and wickets. But with fresh wickets used in all venues this year, some of which are also re-laid surfaces, the likes of Rubel, Baisya and Al-Amin Hossain have been successful so far.
Al-Amin took six wickets when Abahani shot out CCS for just 35 runs, albeit the wicket had very little bounce on it. Rubel took six wickets against Khelaghar in the opening match, followed up by the five-for in Sunday's game against Brothers Union.
"The ball kept low in BKSP-3, so I just had to maintain a tight line and length," Rubel said. "It is difficult for the batsmen, because it suddenly sinks on them.
"I have started off very well, which makes me very happy. I really needed this after the poor form, injury and illness in Zimbabwe."
Rubel also saw these wickets as an opportunity to remind the clubs that pace bowlers are necessary in the scheme of things. Previously, the BCB employed a pool system for national cricketers which meant that each club would be able to take just take two players each. Usually, the bigger clubs avoided filling up these spots with pace bowlers, who then had to find smaller clubs with less pay.
"Bangladesh's pace bowlers had trouble finding a club due to the pool system," Rubel said. "But this year's players-by-choice has opened up a lot of doors for the pacers. The clubs are not interested in us, so it is important to do well for our future."
Whether the clubs put emphasis on good fast bowling or not, an in-form Rubel is necessary for Bangladesh's plans against New Zealand next month. He has used the league to get in form, and prove a point or two on the way.
Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent. He tweets here