Mashrafe Mortazaâ€™s recent first ball dismissal of India's Jaffer reminded
me of the best ball I have seen bowled by a Bangladeshi as yet. You may have
your own personal favorite but what follows is mine.
The Bangladesh â€“ Australia series in 2006 was not covered by any TV channel
in the UK. However, the resourcefulness of the Bangali diaspora knows no bounds.
Bangladesh cricket fans came up with several options to follow the matches on
the web with varying degrees of legality one presumes. But I remain eternally
grateful for one such tip. The tipper I do not remember, but he enabled me to
make a massive financial killing though not of the monetary kind!
Somewhat apprehensively, I parted with $15 using my credit card to watch the
series. But I need not have worried. Soon after I entered my password, a tiny
screen emerged on my laptop. I saw Bangladesh play as yet its best test innings
with Nafees excelling, sweeping particularly well against Warne. What followed,
my return on investment, merited an SEC inquiry.
Bangladesh were all out for 427 soon after lunch on the second day. The Australians
were soon in trouble. Hayden went cheaply. But Hussey, sent to open, and Ponting
carried on as Australians do. Ponting was lbw to the brisk Shahadat. Martin
went soon after not reading Rafique who was bowling very well when Clarke walked
in. Hussey was also soon bowled by Rafique.
Pontingâ€™s injudicious remarks about the hostsâ€™ right to Test status
had riled the Bangladeshis. Clarke and an uncharacteristic Gilchrist plodded
on. To cut the preamble short, they added a pedestrian 18 runs off 7 overs.
31.2 Enamul Haque jnr to
Clarke, OUT: ripper! flighted delivery on the middle and leg
stump line, drifting in with the arm and this one turned square
after hitting the deck, Clarke was clueless, ball turns away
just enough to beat the outside edge and the off stump is
Enamul Haque Junior, to give his official name, had bowled spectacularly against
Zimbabwe in the home series a year earlier. This was not good enough for Whatmore
and company to pick him in England because as the explanation went, you needed
three seamers in England! So, we picked Anwar Hossain Manju for the two Tests
here. Remember him? But I digress. I must return to the ball. So my story can
It was the 32nd over when Habibul Bashar turned to Enamul. Clarke played the
first ball, bowled from round the wicket, defensively.
As Enamul walked in for his second ball, there was nothing to indicate that
a moment of true magic was about to be conjured.
He flighted the ball and it simply soared into the atmosphere almost at zero
pace, if that were possible. Newtonâ€™s law of gravity was simply suspended.
As Enamul himself explained later, he had concealed the shiny side inside thus
letting the ball drift. To me that is the science part of the delivery. The
romance is in the arts of it!
Modern television cameras are very sophisticated. They capture the minutest
movement of the ball. Even the makerâ€™s name is visible. However, no such
technology could pick up the thin string, so thin that it could only be measured
in nanometers, but a thousand times stronger than the spiderâ€™s thread,
that Enamul had attached to the ball.
The ball had soared into space. It was meant to follow a parabolic route. That
is what Clarke also thought. Little did he know that the wily Enamul was about
to tug that string. As he gave that invisible tug, the ball lost pace, the flight
changed. Clarke lunged forward in a classical forward defensive style, bat and
pad together, knowing the ball would hit the middle of the bat as was pre-ordained.
It was not to be. The ball fell well short.
So far I have only revealed the intricacies of the flight. But what about the
spin! King Warne was in the pavilion next man in. But he too must have been
impressed by the sheer rip that Enamul had given the ball. Clarke had already
been, what cricketers knowledgeably refer to as, beaten in flight. But the ball
had more mysteries to offer.
As it made its descent from orbit, the ball hit Fatullahâ€™s turf. No other
projectile has ever made such an impact. It spun viscously out of Fatullahâ€™s
green earth, metamorphosing into a lethal cobra. Only Bangalis can tell you
about the cobraâ€™s sting. This is not the time or place to discuss that.
Suffice to say, the ball spat like a cobraâ€™s venom and sprung out for
its prey. Clarke had not seen a Bengali cobra before but Khaled Mashud had.
His gloves had transformed into a snake charmers pouch. He may have seen such
snake dance before. He need not have bothered this time.
The ball eluded Clarkeâ€™s broad bat â€“ by a catâ€™s whisker.
It did not reach Mashudâ€™s pouch. The timber behind Clarke rattled. But
only the off bail was disturbed. Or, so I like to remember. Clarke looked mesmerized,
not believing what he had just seen. In fact, he probably still could hear the
snake charmers tune. For a thousandth of a second there was a stunned silence
before the entire Bangali nation rose as one.
The best ball by a Bangladeshi had been bowled and Clarke was comprehensively
bowled! Australia were 79 for 5 in the 32nd over. What Shane Warne had made
of the delivery as he walked in to bat is not recorded. Gilchrist played a responsible
heads down test innings. Australia eventually won by two wickets.