Testing times for Mushfiqur Rahim
Mushfiqur Rahim, the young Bangladeshi batsman, faced a stern examination against England at Lord's last week but that hasn't stopped the him from worrying about more prosaic tests. Rahim showed a cricketing maturity beyond his years in the way he spent nearly an hour-and-a-half at the crease on debut during Bangladesh's first-innings collapse in the crushing defeat in the first Test.
But his exploits on the field have played havoc with his education off it. Since enrolling at Bangladesh Krira Shikkha Prothistan college in January he has yet to attend a lesson and has to study English, history, economics and Islamic Studies while on tour. "There is a problem because in the first four months I only attended one day and that was to register. I just do not have the time," said Rahim ahead of the start of Friday's second and final Test of the series at Durham.
"I didn't join any classes so I have to talk to my teachers about keeping up with my reading," said Rahim. "As well as my cricket bag I have a bag full of books in my hotel room and so I try to do as much as I can."
Rahim, at 5ft 4in one of several short batsmen in the Bangladesh line-up, stood out from his team-mates by the judgement he showed in deciding what to play and what to leave as he made a gutsy 19 out of the team's meagre 108. And just as impressive as his technique against the swinging ball was his temperament when confronted by Steve Harmison and Andrew Flintoff.
"It was a great feeling," said Rahim. "When I got to Lord's there was some excitement in my heart because I had to face a great team. When I walked out onto the ground I didn't look at any of the bowlers I just watched the ball and played.
"I felt I had nothing to lose because I was the youngest and there is no pressure when you are young and your debut match is at Lord's. It was only afterwards when I was on the dressing-room balcony then I was nervous because they are excellent bowlers. That made me feel under greater pressure for the second innings
Given his size, Rahim might be expected to be a fan of diminutive India batting star Sachin Tendulkar but his cricketing idol comes from far beyond the subcontinent. "Brian Charles Lara was my hero," he said. "I like Asian players but in my childhood it was he who made the biggest impression; his style, his confidence, his mentality are really great. When I watch Lara batting in the middle I imagine him being right-handed and copying the way he plays."