Mushfiqur bags Masters degree in History

Mushfiqur Rahim is all smiles at the nets session Associated Press

Bangladesh captain Mushfiqur Rahim has followed up his Man of the Series performance in the ODIs against West Indies with another notable achievement: he has completed his Masters degree in History from Jahangirnagar University. It's a rare accomplishment for top professional cricketers and Mushfiqur, who was accorded a reception by the university on Sunday, has said he hopes to set an example for his younger team-mates so that their futures are more secure.

After finishing school and college from BKSP, he joined the university in 2007 and has now completed an honours and masters. The specialisation in the latter was in contemporary South Asian history, and he finished with an impressive CGPA of 3.49. According to Mushfiqur, it wasn't a solo effort as his classmates and teachers ensured he didn't miss anything while playing for Bangladesh.

"This degree is a huge honour for me," Mushfiqur said. "Apart from my efforts, I would give credit to the university teachers and my friends who guided and assisted me. I couldn't attend most of the classes, and had to take notes from my friends while the university authorities made sure my attendance wasn't an issue.

"The teachers also considered my attendance issues because my cricket commitments didn't allow me to attend regular classes. I also had to work extra hard but whenever possible, I went for classes and took the exams."

Mushfiqur's degree is a major boost for him personally and a source of inspiration for cricketers in the country, especially the younger ones. It goes to show how education and an international career can be managed in Bangladesh where most cricketers abandon their studies to pursue the game professionally.

As a result, Mushfiqur wants to stress on the importance of education in the young players' lives, though he believes it is ultimately a matter of choice. "Cricket is just a part of life, there's nothing more important than education. I think it should be a message to our younger fans.

"Everyone has their own philosophy in life, and if they want to study I would say it is their choice. It is not easy to handle both. I always encourage those younger than me that they must take their education seriously."

Mushfiqur described the scramble ahead of exams, most of which he had to appear in isolation as he would usually miss the scheduled dates. "You wouldn't believe it but when I was returning from tours, I had to study at planes and airports, because I had exams the following day.

"Between matches maybe everyone else was free to roam around whichever country we were playing in, but I had to take notes and stay back in the hotel to study. But my team-mates were nice, they never teased me."

He found inspiration from within his family and also from Kumar Sangakkara, especially the manner in which the Sri Lankan cricketer has carried himself over the years. "It is appreciated that someone like Sangakkara's sports personality is shaped by his education. He is obviously an inspiration.

"After I had completed my Higher Secondary Certificate exam, I didn't want to pursue studies but I was reminded of its importance. My family encouraged me, told me not to give up on studies. They are very proud of me and I am inspiring my younger brothers and sisters in the family by doing two things at a time."

In future, Mushfiqur hopes to work closer to his sport than history, saying that the degree has taught him many lessons about life. "I have to give cricket a lot of time but I learned a lot by going through the process of graduating, and I want to do an MBA or a PhD, preferably on something close to cricket so that I can add that to my current profession."