When it comes to selection to the national team, Bangladesh cricket's decision-makers have a predisposition towards two beliefs. First, if someone is past the age of 30 and out of the national fold, they should not harbour hopes of a comeback and second, even if they are doing something special on the domestic scene that success cannot be translated onto the international front.
Therefore, even as 35-year old left-arm spinner Abdur Razzak achieved one success after another on the domestic front during his four-year absence from international cricket and reached the summit of 500 first-class scalps -- the first Bangladeshi bowler to do so -- there were not many who believed that the true gentleman could make a comeback in Test cricket like he did on the opening day of the second Test against Sri Lanka in Mirpur yesterday.
Now, Razzak's return to international cricket with a bang may help break the commonly held prejudices against players of a certain vintage plying their trade in domestic cricket. Every time Razzak did anything in domestic cricket, he was faced with a common question: do you expect a national recall? He repeatedly replied that he was enjoying the game and would continue his career as long as he was having fun, so there was no reason to completely rule out a national return. However, his inner uncertainties can be understood if one recalls his words following a sudden recall to the squad before the first Test: “I didn't expect a recall now.”
One should however salute him for maintaining his fitness and setting a great example of how a professional sportsman should be prepared for any challenge.
“I definitely feel that fitness is so important in the current climate, and I must thank the BCB for giving me the chance now. It means that nobody should ever give up. Everyone's chances remain alive,” was the message from him when he spoke to the media conference after the first day's play.
Playing only 12 Tests in an eight-year period since making his Test debut against Australia in April 2006 did not reflect great Test credentials; instead the tag of a one-day specialist was attached to him.
He had a lot of contribution in Bangladesh's one-day successes but even then few considered the possibility of his return to his favourite format, so when he dominated the domestic circuit in the four-day competitions no one gave it much thought.
“I firmly believe that taking wickets in domestic competitions gives you confidence and makes you a better bowler, so I must say that success in domestic first-class competitions helped me a lot,” he said.
Razzak also had some of his own opinions regarding his ordinary presence in Test cricket. “I don't think I have ever played Tests on such a [spin-friendly] wicket. Bangladesh were new to Test cricket in those days, so we were not really organised enough to understand our strengths.”
Only time will tell how long this late-career revival will continue, but Razzak proved yesterday that one can never second-guess the wishes of the cricketing gods.