Grunt work: Shahadat has dealt out bruises and taken wickets in about equal measure
The first man to take a one-day international hat-trick for Bangladesh
almost repeated the feat this week. Shahadat Hossain rates his three from
three balls against Zimbabwe
in 2006 as the highlight of his career. It would have been overtaken quicker than a broken-down Kombi van had he reproduced the deed against Australia.
The moment came in the 50th over of the first ODI
in Darwin last Saturday. Shahadat crashed the ball into Cameron White's off stump from the third
delivery and next ball had Mitchell Johnson caught and bowled top-edging an
attempted hook. The problem was the batsmen crossed while the ball was in
the air, so instead of targeting the debutant Brett Geeves, Shahadat was
forced to try for the milestone against Michael Hussey.
Sitting on the boundary of the Marrara Cricket Ground after a lengthy
session of bowling drills on Friday, a fidgeting, impossibly effervescent
Shahadat reflected happily on the opportunity. "With Hussey there I had no
chance," he said.
True, Hussey did easily deal with the hat-trick ball, nudging it from
outside off towards deep cover. But Shahadat got the next best thing; Hussey
tried to slog the next one and lost his off stump, giving the bowler three
wickets from four balls. The whole scenario brought back memories for
Shahadat, whose triple-strike against Zimbabwe is etched in his mind.
"I enjoyed the hat-trick most. Nothing compares to it," he said. "I thought
I was in dreamland. Hat-tricks are taken by Wasim Akram, bowlers like that."
He's no Akram just yet but it's successes like that, and his remarkable 6 for 27
in a Test against South Africa this year, that prove he should be known for more than just his trademark delivery grunt. The strange noise, more suited to a tennis player, comes just before he releases the
ball and hints at near total exhaustion, which is at odds with his seemingly
Is it offputting for the batsmen? Who knows. Perhaps it is only coincidence
that an inordinate number of players misread him and suffer extravagant
blows to the head. Even Ricky Ponting felt the full force of Shahadat's
bounce in the Fatullah Test
of 2006 when he took his eyes off the ball and copped one on the helmet. "He is the best player of the pull and hook shot," Shahadat said, "so that gave me a lot of confidence."
It was not a first for Shahadat, who has been injuring batsmen for a decade.
As a teenager Shahadat developed a reputation in his home town, where he was
the most fearsome wielder of a taped tennis ball. He was the quickest young bowler
in the district by far, and his rivals would head home with ugly bruises and
swelling after facing his vicious deliveries.
His father, a banker, decided that if Shahadat was going to spend all his
time playing cricket anyway, he might as well try his luck at a junior
training camp. It was there that he first picked up a proper cricket ball,
although because he had no running shoes he would tear in off his long
run-up with bare feet.
A couple of years and at least one pair of cricket boots later, Shahadat was
training with the Bangladesh Institute of Sports in a set of nets adjacent
to those of the national team. When he was invited to send down some deliveries to
the Test batsmen, Shahadat duly gained notice by thumping Hannan Sarkar and
Mohammad Rafique in the head and hands.
The Under-19 captain of the day was less fortunate. Shahadat struck him so
cleanly on the side of the head with a bouncer that the screws from the
other side of the helmet flew out. The batsman was in severe pain.
"There was blood everywhere," a smiling Shahadat said.
| Shahadat once struck a batsman so cleanly on the side of the head with a bouncer that the screws from the
other side of the helmet flew out
Since then, the 190-centimetre bowler has developed into comfortably the
quickest in Bangladesh and has been clocked at up to 148kph. Importantly, he not only intimidates batsmen, he also takes wickets. His most memorable victim was Ponting, who he trapped lbw in the Fatullah Test, but his 6 for 27 against South Africa in Mirpur this year was a breakthrough effort.
"The year has gone pretty well for me," Shahadat said. "The six wickets
against South Africa was one of the highlights. In that series I didn't
actually think that I was bowling to [Graeme] Smith or [Jacques] Kallis or anything. I just
tried to bowl in the right areas."
Nicknamed Rajib - he says he has no idea what it means, his
sister gave him the title - he has not been at his best during the Australia
series, where he has leaked a few too many runs. Perhaps the absence of one
of his fast-bowling role models, Brett Lee, has robbed him of inspiration.
"I did bowl very well in New Zealand and against South Africa back home
prior to this series," he said. "I'm trying to repeat everything I have done on
those tours; it's just not happening at the moment.
"This tour is very important for Bangladesh cricket overall because if you
do well against Australia everyone takes note. The players gain a lot of
confidence. I've targeted this series but so far it has not happened for
Lucky for Australia.
Brydon Coverdale is a staff writer at Cricinfo