Bangladesh left-arm spinner Abdur Razzak's surprise recall to the Bangladesh Test side takes the mind back to the comebacks of Brian Close, Darren Pattinson, and RP Singh. On Sunday evening, the BCB called Razzak and told him that his air ticket to Chittagong was ready, but he felt like someone was playing a prank on him.
A little while later, the selectors announced that Razzak had been picked in the Bangladesh squad for the first Test against Sri Lanka. Despite his prolific domestic form over the last four years, Razzak was overlooked several times by two selection committees, which had regularly suggested that recalling him would be a step back. But he has now forced his way back into the national reckoning on current form: he leads this season's wicket-takers' list with 40 scalps in nine matches, combined in BCL and NCL. In addition, Razzak recently became the first Bangladeshi bowler to take 500 first-class wickets.
"Sajib bhai [Kawsar Azam], who called to tell me my ticket is confirmed, first congratulated me," Razzak said. "I asked him if it is for the 500 wickets. He said that it was because of my Bangladesh team call-up. I got a call from Nannu bhai [Minhajul Abedin] who confirmed to me. Sometimes you hope for something and it happens; this was not anything like that."
Things in Mirpur started to unravel from Saturday evening when Shakib Al Hasan was ruled out of the first Test due to a finger injury. The selectors first called up left-arm spinner Sunzamul Islam and allrounder Tanbir Hayder. On Sunday evening, rumours swirled of a possible recall for Razzak although Minhajul Abedin had only said that the veteran's case was part of a discussion with the team management in Chittagong. With Taijul suffering a slump in form and Sunzamul being uncapped in Test cricket, Minhajul eventually turned to the experience of Razzak.
"It wasn't a sudden call-up," Minhajul said. "It was part of a process. We depend on spinners in home Test matches. We called up Razzak because he is experienced and we have lost the experience of Shakib. We have Sunzamul in our ODI and T20 setup while Taijul has been around for a while too. Razzak has been doing well in domestic cricket so we thought we could keep him in the squad.
"Sunzamul is very inexperienced, hasn't played a Test. We have to take into account Taijul's form, he didn't do well in South Africa. This is why we took the extra spinner. Whoever will be in a better position tomorrow, he will play."
Razzak said that while he never gave up hope of playing for Bangladesh again, he did not expect the call-up now.
"It is hard to play domestic cricket if you don't have a larger goal so I never really gave up hope," he said. "But I didn't expect it now, not like this."
He also hoped that his return would pave the way for many such domestic performers to make the national side. "I think this should set an example for everyone to never give up," Razzak said. "Even young players think that they will not get selected, but one should always keep in mind that if you are performing consistently, you will be needed at some stage.
"Waiting for the opportunity is tough. I think 95 percent of the people thought that I would never make it back. But in the back of my mind, I always thought that I would get the call."