Mahmudul Hasan Joy and Rejaur Rahman Raja, the newest faces in Bangladesh’s Test squad, took very different paths to the top, but taped-tennis-ball cricket, almost seen in every cricketing story across the subcontinent, inevitably comes up when they reflect on their journeys. Speaking ahead of the home Tests against Pakistan, the two relived some memories of their formative years, and spoke of their happiness at breaking into the Test squad.
I like taking on challenges, they grow me – Rejaur Raja
“I started playing cricket with a taped tennis ball. After I played in my first cricket ball tournament, some of the elder brothers from my neighbourhood told me I should start training in the stadium,” Raja said after a training session with the squad at the Zahur Ahmed Chowdhury Stadium in Chattogram on Tuesday. “Once I started doing that, I realised I can do well with the cricket ball too. That’s how I got started.”
“Fast bowlers from Sylhet like Rahi bhai [Abu Jayed Rahi], Ebadat bhai [Ebadat Hossain] and Khaled bhai [Khaled Ahmed] have motivated me. “I like taking on challenges. I have done well in first-class competitions. I can build on bowling a number of spells in a four-day match. I can maintain my strength. I can bowl consistently. I can move the ball too. I have bowled faster later in the day than I bowl at the start of the day.”
Everyone dreams of this day – Mahmudul Joy
Joy’s rise has been more structured and just the way you most of the cricketers rise. Batting in the top order, he was Bangladesh’s top-scorer in their win of the U-19 World Cup 2020 – he scored a century in the semi-final against New Zealand. He followed that up with impressive performances in the domestic leagues. He made back-to-back centuries in this season’s National Cricket League, the domestic first-class competition.
“I have a hard time expressing my feelings about this moment,” Joy said. “Everyone dreams of this day. I am really happy at my first opportunity in the Test squad. I am quite confident after a few good innings in the NCL. I also did well in the high-performance and A-team matches. These matches have prepared me for the challenges ahead.”
It will be extremely exciting to see the two take field in the first test. You never know, they might turn out to be the players Bangladesh rely on in future, just like Mahmudullah, Shakib Al Hasan and Mushfiqur Rahim.