March 5, 2002

Sometimes there should have been some exceptions in the rules

How long will he be ignored? A batsman of his merit is an asset for Bangladesh and that was wretchedly squandered. If one were asked to pronounce the name of one of the most unfortunate cricketers of the country, surely the name of Minhajul Abedin would come first.

Bangladesh have played 11 Test matches so far; 21 players have already awarded with the Test cap. But among this list the name of Minhajul is woefully absent. Cricket experts and cricket lovers will unanimously vote for this ace batsman as the best one the country has so far seen in the past thirty years.

It is true that he had a belated success in the limited over International matches. He got the first ODI half-century (68) in World Cup 1999 against Scotland. He made 52 not out against champion Australia. After the World Cup Minhajul announced his retirement from limited over matches. But he carried on playing in domestic First Class matches and pulled off a lot of success there. He was eager to play the inaugural Test but was harshly ruled out.

He notched up brilliant knocks in Ispahani National League 2001-2002, which is still running. From his last 14 innings he had so far amassed highest 961 runs averaging 80.80. He was equally good in the limited over matches. Who is a better man than him in domestic league in terms of having such continuity? It might sound bizarre that still his valiant efforts (At the age of 36) couldn't hit the eyes of the selectors.

Selectors are still glued with their ludicrous idea that a batsman have to come through ranks, no matter how good he is in domestic league! According to this rule Minhajul have to prove himself in Bangladesh-A; if he carried off well there, he might be thought about for the national team. However, let's check the A-team concept first.

Undoubtedly it's a squad that are providing exposure to talented youths, especially those who are doing fairly good in National League and needed only necessary courage and confidence to play in the higher level. The theory isn't applicable for Minhajul Abedin, who has been playing big matches for more than twelve years. He is neither a kid cricketer nor a batsman who will have to look forward to get hold of confidence to play against the giants. He already played a lot against them!

The Test matches held in Chittagong could have been a nice opportunity the selectors could offer this batsman in his hometown. Bangladesh team are still accepting humiliating defeats at the hands of teams ranging from Zimbabwe to Pakistan. We located the gulf of differences in standard between Bangladesh and any other Test playing nation.

I don't think the result would have been worse than what Bangladesh did, had Minhajul Abedin been included in the middle-order. It was an utterly frail middle-order that was horrendously experimented and shuffled by the management. Except Habibul Bashar there was no one who could apply the least sense of responsibility (The matches against Zimbabwe & Pakistan).

Let's think that Minhajul wouldn't be an exception, may be he could fail like others, but would that change the results? Bangladesh had already shown the powerlessness in handing a mediocre leg-spinner like Danish Kaneria. What was wistfully spotted as a lack in Bangladesh batting - is confidence. Minhajul could have been an exception (Remembering his dogged knocks against Scotland & Australia).

Or we can think like this - Minhajul deserves a sit for at least a single Test in his home ground either against Zimbabwe or Pakistan. He deserves that being one of the veteran players of the country. He could have been shown some respects in this way in the twilight of his career.

There should have been some exceptions in the rules - sometimes making exceptions is a prudent decision.