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Dhaka Tribune

The boy who would have been a star

Update : 26 Jul 2013, 04:29 PM

Sirajullah Khadem was one of the brightest young cricketers in Bangladesh with the potential to bring many joyous moments to the nation’s cricket crazy fan. All those promises however, came to naught due to an unfortunate, nasty and career ending injury.

Sirajullah, better known as “Nipu” in cricketing circles, played for Bangladesh in the U-19 World Cup in Sri Lanka in 2006, alongside current Bangladesh skipper Mushfiqur Rahim, star all-rounder Shakib Al Hassan and celebrated opener Tamim Iqbal. While his teammate’s fortunes have soared, Nipu has been sitting helplessly at home after injuring his left eye in 2009.

Nipu was a left handed middle order batsman who also bowled handy medium pace. He was generally considered one of the best all-rounders in the country when he was active, played at all the various age level teams for Bangladesh and toured many countries in the process.

Among many fine performances, one which stands out came in a match for Darwin Cricket Club against Palmerston Cricket Club in the Australian provincial competition Darwin Premier League. Nipu scored 88 runs in the game and took six wickets – and his fellow cricketers still discuss the achievement with appreciative gusto.

Senior cricketers, coaches and contemporary cricketers - who once looked forward to seeing him in the national team, fighting for the nation’s pride - praise him spontaneously and regret his unexpected exit from the game.

“He was a fine all-rounder, having a natural ability to change a game. It was a regular case that he suddenly came in at the middle and scored some quick runs to change the scenario or take a wicket to breakthrough a settled partnership,” said former national team skipper Khaled Masud.

“He was a familiar face in the cricketing arena from a very early age - like Sakib, Tamim and Mushfique were. It was very much expected that he would appear in the national team, like them,” added Masud.

Shaun Williams, who was the coach of Bangladesh “High Performance Squad”, had predicted that Nipu would be the next star all-rounder for Bangladesh’s national team. It was Williams who sent the youngster to Australia to play for the Darwin club in 2007, soon after U-19 World Cup.

Sirajullah impressed the Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) while playing in the Darwin premier league in Australia where he performed exceptionally well as a foreign player.

The talented left hander was one of the leading lights in domestic cricket. Sirajullah made his first class debut in 2005, playing for Sylhet division. He came to be an integral part of the team for some time.  He played for Mohammedan Sporting Club at the age of 17 and later played for various Dhaka Premier League teams with lot of confidence.

The Hobiganj lad was admitted to BKSP where he worked diligently to actualize his dream of playing for the national team. There, his skills impressed the selectors, and Nipu went on to be selected for the Bangladesh U-17, 19, 23 teams, as well as the Bangladesh “A” team.

Just as he seemed on the cusp of cracking into the national team, he injured his left eye while practicing back in his home town Habiganj.

“It was in 2009 when I was practicing in Habiganj to prepare myself for the upcoming Dhaka league. A ball struck my left eye while I was batting in the nets and then I had to rush to the hospital,” said a tearful Sirajullah.

The blow left him with a blood clot in the eye. Doctors recommended he rest and wait to see if matters improved. No improvement has yet come.

 “I have done whatever it takes for me to overcome my eye problem. I wanted to return to the field but I also had some limitations at that time - I did not have the proper treatment, which eventually took my eyes condition from bad to worse,” said Sirajullah.

The 25 year old, who comes from a middle class family, asked the BCB for help in his treatment but the request was denied.

 “I have called some of the members of the board that time and asked for my treatment but not a single person even heard me,” said Sirajullah helplessly.

Now the success of the national team and the shiny life of his old teammates bring sighs of sadness for one, who was cruelly robbed of the chance to be a part of it all.

 “I have played for Bangladesh U-15 team in 2001 where I toured India and most of the cricketers whom I played with are now playing for Bangladesh national team,” said Sirajullah.

Presently, the fallen star is living in Brahmonbaria with his family and trying to contribute.  “Right now I am trying to go outside the country, hoping to earn some money for me and for my family but the financial condition of my family is not that good, so I don’t know what to do.

“When I see Mushfiq, Shakib, Tamim playing for the national team on TV, I get very emotional as I think I could also have played for the national team if the injury hadn’t happened,” said Sirajullah.

Those who saw him play would add that the loss has not just been Sirajullah’s, but to Bangladesh cricket as a whole.


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