Shahriar Nafees, with one Test hundred and four ODI centuries, was once regarded as one of Bangladesh’s premier opening batsman.
His Test ton particularly was brilliant to say the least as it came against mighty Australia during first Test in Fatullah in 2006.
However, a loss of form later in his career saw him excluded from the Bangladesh side, even though the left-hander has been scoring consistent runs in the domestic circuit.
Shahriar talked with Dhaka Tribune
in an exclusive interview where he shared thoughts about his playing career, his exile from the national side, and his future plans, among other things.
Here are the excerpts:
You played well in the recently concluded Dhaka Premier Division Cricket League where you scored 600 runs for Prime Doleshwar Sporting Club. How do you evaluate your performance in the DPL this season?
I think as a team we played well. We were the runners-up. And personally, I think I played well. One regret is I wasn’t able to score a century. I scored five fifties but no centuries. That’s one small regret. But the positive thing is I scored significantly in every innings, with the exception of two knocks. There is always chance of improvement. So I will try to perform better and play big innings in future.
The fifth edition of the BPL T20 is a few months away. How is your preparation going?
I am concentrating on fitness now. After Eid-ul-Adha, I will start my batting practice as well.
You scored a brilliant 138-run innings against Australia in the first Test in 2006. How do you rate that knock?
I believe that was my best innings so far, compared to every innings I have played in my career. Australia were the No 1 team at that time. They were playing outstanding cricket at that moment. An innings like 138 against a quality team and bowling attack inspired me throughout my career.
Any special memories from that knock?
I scored 10 boundaries against Shane Warne. I played some well-struck sweep shots against him. I think such batting against Shane Warne is the memory I will cherish forever.
Bangladesh posed a tough challenge against Australia in the Fatullah Test. Bearing in mind that Bangladesh have improved a lot as a team in the recent years, do you think the Tigers can win the series against the Aussies this time around?
If Bangladesh can utilise the home condition properly then Bangladesh have a good chance. If our players can continue their good form, like the way they have been playing in the last few years, then I believe Australia will have a really tough time in Bangladesh. We played really well against England last year and drew the Test series. I hope Bangladesh will play good cricket and provide an entertaining Test series, like the Bangladesh-England series last year.
What are your immediate future plans?
My future plan is to play cricket as long as I am physically fit and enjoying playing and training. And as for a probable national team return, actually it does not depend on me solely. Because if it depended on me then I would have been playing for the national team right now. The way I performed in domestic cricket in the last three years, no one else has performed like that. But still, unfortunately, I am out of the national team. The things which depend on me are performing consistently and practising properly. So my target is to play cricket and produce consistent performances. It may be for one more year or two or five, but I will try to play cricket with proper fitness and consistent performances.
After being dropped, how challenging it is to return to the national team?
It is really tough for a Bangladesh player to return to the team after being dropped, in terms of facilities and environment. I am trying to overcome these challenges and looking forward to performing well in the domestic circuit.
Once, you were the No 1 opener for a long period of time. But later you were dropped. What was the reason?
I believe I had no such statistics to be dropped from the national team. After being dropped from the national team, I performed well in the domestic arena. But why did I not get picked to the national team again? I really don’t know the answer. I believe I was unlucky. Some players survived in the national team squad, despite performing worse than me. That was their good luck and my bad luck.
Was participating in the defunct Indian Cricket League a factor?
Not at all. I took part in the ICL in 2008. But I played in the national team around 2013. Then I got dropped. So participating in the ICL was not a factor.
Was lack of fitness a factor as the current national team are much more fit, compared to the last 8-10 years?
I never failed any fitness test in my career. I did not have injury problems either. So the reason behind my exile is still unknown to me. My target is to perform and score runs in every level and I will try to do that. The day I cannot perform anymore, I will retire.