No one wants to be the next Taijul Islam.
Several left-arm spinners dream of making it to the national team someday, but all of them want to be the next Shakib Al Hasan because his success is magnetic.
But Taijul is not among the icons. He is not followed by thousands of fans on social media, neither is he chased by the media. No Dhaka Premier League Club or Bangladesh Premier League franchise is trying to secure his service for a handsome amount. Big companies will not line up to get him for their product endorsement. No expert ever tagged him with the word ‘talent’. In a nutshell, Taijul is an outsider in Bangladesh cricket who lives in the shadows.
But he is a workhorse who is silently climbing up the ranks to become one of the most successful bowlers for Bangladesh in Test cricket. He has picked seven wickets against Pakistan on Sunday, which moved his total wicket tally to 141, the second-highest for Bangladesh in Test matches.
The left-arm spinner took five wickets or more in an innings nine times, second to Shakib’s 18 times.
Yet, he could not take the team near to the winning post as the batsmen failed to capitalize in the second innings, and this is not the first time Taijul is facing a similar kind of fate.
Taijul last played for Bangladesh in May, against Sri Lanka and after that, he was in the Twenty20 squad for the series against Australia and New Zealand, but was not picked in the playwing XI for a single match and was eventually dropped from the T20 World Cup squad as well.
Coming back to international cricket almost more than six months later, Taijul did exactly what the team expected from him in the absence of Shakib in the bowling department.
Taijul led the spin department, gave a timely breakthrough, picked up the lion’s share of wickets, and at end of the day, handed the team a lead by 44 runs.
The left-arm spinner was a bit confused when Daniel Vettori tried to turn him into a bowler for all formats, he changed his action modelling on the-then spin bowling consultant, but the results did not come in his favour.
“I wanted to try to do something better. The change in my bowling action didn’t put me in a lot of trouble. When I wanted to return to my old action, Sohel (Islam) bhai helped me come back quickly. He knows my action very well,” Taijul told the media after the match in a virtual press conference.
During the break, Taijul came back to his old bowling action, picked 19 wickets in the last three first-class matches he played in the National Cricket League, and now that confidence reflected on his bowling when he put on the Test cap once again.
“Regardless of whether I am playing NCL or any other tournament, I try to stick to my process. We could indeed have improved more in Tests by playing more matches,” Taijul told the media.
“I have one role when Shakib bhai is playing, and another when Shakib bhai is not playing. Since he isn’t playing, I had to assume his role. I have to manage the wicket-taking role as well as maintain the economy,”
The interim spin bowling coach of the national team, Sohel Islam, also said that there is no harm in trying something new,
“There was a lot of talk about his change in action. I like courageous guys like Taijul. He thought he needed to take a bit of risk to get to the next stage. He showed guts by trying something like that at this stage of his career. I think it is a sign of a big player. His new action would never have caused him a disaster in any case. His old action was stored in his muscle memory,” he said after the match in the press conference.
Though the advantage, earned by Taijul’s great bowling display, was erased due to a poor showing by the top-order batsmen, the left-arm spinner believes that the remaining six batsmen can recover Bangladesh,
“I think we can’t take it as a disappointment. This is the nature of cricket. Nobody wants to get out voluntarily. We came back after being four wickets down in the first innings. We hope to do the same in this innings too,” said Taijul.