The cricket history of Mymensingh
Writer: Iftu Ahmed from Aurora, IL, USA
No one knows when the first cricket of Mymensingh was played. No doubt that at the very outset of the nineteenth century, cricket was played in Mymensingh with great enthusiasm. It does not mean that cricket was not played in Mymensingh prior to nineteenth century. There was cricket at that time but had no information details.
In 1910, the formation of Bengal Gymkhana in Calcutta, India by the patronages of Maharajas of Coach Bihar, Natore, Mymensingh and Rangpur made a strong cricket in Bengal. In 1911, Bengal Gymkhana toured Dhaka and Mymensingh for playing cricket. Besides, the formidable cricket teams of Calcutta used to play cricket in Mymensingh. As for example, in 1916, Maharaja of Mymensingh invited Bengal Gymkhana to play for his team. Historically, Mymensingh is one of the cricket birthplaces in Bengal.
Pandit Para Athletic Club of Mymensingh produced Prabir Kumar Sen, the famous Indian Test Wicket-Keeper who played 14 Test matches from 1948 to 1952 and stumped the Australian cricket legend Sir Donald Bradman.
Hemango Basu (1989-1956), the son of Bangladesh and the Indian sports legend was exceled in soccer, cricket, hockey and tennis. He played cricket for Mymensingh’s Panditpara and Dhaka Victoria Club. Besides, Basu was one of the three Bengali players who represented for Bengal and rest were the English cricketers in the first ever Inter-Provincial Cricket Tournament in India. His son Sivaji Basu was a famous cricketer and also played for Bengal.
Fakharuddin and Mofizuddin were the All-Indian cricketers of Mymensingh and they became cricket coaches of Mymensingh. Many famous cricketers were born in Mymensingh through their cricket coaching. Fakharuddin was a cricket coach of Pandit Para Athletic Club and kept glorious contributions to cricket coaching for Mymensingh.
In 1941-42, Mymensingh-born Illias Uddin Ahmed, the sports legend of Bangladesh, played cricket for Mymensingh Friends XI Club against a cricket team of Moha Raja Cooch Bihar XI. In 1945-46, he was the cricket captain of Calcutta Islamia College and played cricket for Calcutta Mohammadan Sporting Club. In 1958, when he was the Director of the Physical Education of Rajshahi University coached successfully for Rajshahi University Team and won against Dhaka University in the Inter-University Cricket Tournament. Rajshahi University scored 162 runs while Dhaka University scored 135 runs. In 1959, he played for Rajshahi University team against Rajshahi Medical College and his batting performance was 74 runs. He was exceled in soccer, hockey, tennis, athletics, volleyball, table tennis alongside sports blue from Calcutta Islamia College.
In 1960s, the famous cricketers of Mymemsingh were Dr Hafizur Rahman, Shahid, Salim, Khairul, Siddique, Dr Kamrul Huda, Iraz Bukth, Dulal, Kanchan and Monwar of Mymensingh Mohammedan Sporting Club, late Prof Amir Ahmed Chowdhury and his brother General Amin Ahmed Chowdhury of Mukul Fouz, late Ram Chand Gowala of Sehora Athletic Club, Prof Dr. Nurul Anwar and Kazi Mohammad Hasan.
Siddique made the first century (114) in the Mymensingh District Cricket League, Prof Amir Ahmed Chowdhury was a fine cricket organizer and General Secretary of Mymensingh District Sports Association, even though Ram Chand Gowala played for Mymensingh District Team XI, Dhaka Abahani and International Cricket Match for Bangladesh at the end of his cricket career, his brilliant cricket performances showed in the early days of Mymensingh Cricket Leagues. Prof Dr. Nurul Anwar was a cricket writer, a member of Bangladesh Cricket Board and a cricket captain of Bangladesh Agricultural University and Kazi Mohammad Hasan was also a cricket coach and writer.
The notable cricketers like Latif, the cricket captain of the then East Pakistan XI, Niaz, the medium fast bowler and Daulot, the fast bowler used to come to Mymensingh for playing in Mymensingh First Division Cricket. The tall man Daulot’s bowling run up was too long. He used to deliver the ball from near to boundary line.
In 1970s, Nannu, Sontosh Dey, Nanda, Helal, Shajahan, Khadem, Sadrul, Iftu (writer), Kibria, Barek, Salim and Belal of Ananda Mohan Govt College, Bhulu of Mymensingh Mohammadan Sporting Club, Sadeq, Sukumar, Muhammad Ali, Azhar, Alok and Pika of Pandit Para Athletic Club, Noor Hossain, Abul of Diamond Cricketers, Nirmal Das of Mukul Fouz, Joheer, Israt, Dipu, Joynal and Baljit of Shikal Goshti (a cricket team formed by the students of Bangladesh Agricultural University), Anwar Hossain of Al-Helal Athletic Club, Dilip Pande, Liton, Swapan Dev and Dilip Dey etc were the finest cricketers of Mymensingh.
Mymensingh District Sports Association (MDSA) made history in organizing First Class Cricket since independence (1971) of Bangladesh. The following chart will speak for itself:
In 1984, I moved to the USA. So I had no information about the Cricket League of MDSA since 1983.
In 1972-73 Cricket League, Sadrul and Gowala both were the most successful batsman and bowler respectively and Nanda and Sukumar were the best all-rounders. In 1973-74, the only knockout cricket tournament of MDSA history, Iftu made glorious contribution in bowling capturing the highest wickets in the knock tournaments and made Ananda Mohan University College (AMUC) first ever cricket champion of Mymensingh and captain Khadem and vice-captain Sadrul both did very well in batting for AMUC. It may be mentioned that from 1972 to 1983, Al-Helal AC earned rare honour for being 4 times champions and 3 times runners-up.
AMUC used to emerge champions in District Inter-College Cricket Tournament. In 1973, AMUC earned the runners-up position in the Dhaka Divisional Inter College Cricket Tournament. Sadrul and Kibria were the most successful batsmen and Iftu was the highest wicket takers in that tournament.
Mymensingh produced many fine wicket-keepers. Among them were Dulal, Sadek, Kibria, Belal and Anwar. Belal, Sadrul and Azhar were the three cricketers of Mymensingh who represented the national cricket team of Bangladesh in the International Cricket Conference (ICC) trophy.
In 1984, Sadrul was the captain for Bangladesh Tigers, the national cricket team in the First South-East Asian ICC Associate Members Tournament. He used to play for Mymensingh Mohammadan Sporting Club and Bangladesh Biman in Dhaka.
Azhar was the right-arm off-breaker and many analysts consider him the best Bangladeshi spinner of 1980s. He used to play for Pandit Para Athletic Club in Mymensingh and Bangladesh Biman in Dhaka.
Besides, Alok, Anwar, Dilip Pande, Mohan, Shahin and Pika of Mymensingh also played for International Cricket matches.
Sadrul and Nirmal Das also hit centuries in Mymensingh Cricket League. Sadrul and Jaheer also made centuries in the Metropolis Cricket League Dhaka.
In 1981-82, Iftu secured the 9th place in cricket batting average for Lalmatia Cricket Team among 30 outstanding batsmen of the country in the Dhaka Metropolis Cricket League. He was adjudged the highest batting scorer twice in the National Cricket Championship for Mymensingh District Team. He made an unbeaten 94 for Mymensingh Mohammadan Sporting Club and 7 for 8 wickets bowling record for Shikal Goshti Cricket Team in the Mymensingh Cricket League. Iftu was coached by Master Aziz Durani, the Pakistani Cricket Coach who was the father of Salim Durani, the former Indian Test Cricketer. It may be mentioned here that Iftu was a deaf cricketer who was able to play cricket with the able-bodied cricket in Bangladesh. Besides, he was excelled in soccer, track and field, basketball, volleyball, tennis and ping pong.
At the outset of 21st century, the two cricketers made Mymensingh proud and they are Mahmudullah, the all-rounder and the vice-captain of Bangladesh National Cricket Team and Mosaddek of Abahani Limited who played for Bangladesh Under-17s and 19s and also for national team.
It is not easy to write the cricket history of Mymensingh sitting on the soil of America, a far distant place. When I took up this task and got associated with it, I found the distance between the lip and the cup. However, I tried my best depending on memories and having on collection materials of my home cricket. I still believe that many records of outstanding cricketers of Mymensingh have not be been mentioned. If I could get the information, I would not hesitate to mention them in the near future.
At the end, I would like to thank Sri Parijat Maitra, the historian of East Bengal Club, Calcutta, India for providing me the information of Spots Legend Hemango Basu.