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     Volume 5 Issue 126 | December 29, 2006 |

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Cover Story

Shahriar Nafees
Cool, Calm and Collected

Nader Rahman

AFP Photo

For a player that began the year with a duck, it has not been all that bad. By the end of the year Shahriar Nafees had scored over a thousand runs in One Day Internationals (ODI's). In the process he racked up three unbeaten hundreds, a nomination for ICC Emerging-Cricketer-of-the-Year and won the Bangladeshi Cricketer-of-the-Year award.

This year has truly been a great year for Bangladeshi cricket, and a lot of their success can directly be attributed to Nafees. For the longest time cricket in Bangladesh has lacked consistency and dedication, but he seems to have no problem with them. He may be extremely talented but consistency has been the real back bone of his success this year.

To end the year with over a thousand ODI runs is a fantastic feat, especially when one takes into consideration that it usually takes a Bangladeshi batsman about three times as long to do so. But he has not been just about runs; he brings a certain sensibility and calmness to the team that has never been seen before. The result is, that in a tight situation the team does not panic and fall apart as it has become so accustomed to. His coolness had a trickle down effect, which has not gone unnoticed. For the Champions Trophy in India he was named Vice Captain, and at the age of 20 it makes him one of the youngest around.

It would be a cliché to say that he has an old head on young shoulders, but for the case of Shahriar Nafees it fits the bill perfectly. He will end the year as the 5th highest run scorer in ODI's with 1033 runs at and average of 42, but those statistics tell only half the story. He has accumulated all those runs at a horribly unfashionable strike rate of 71. That means he has been the player to bat through an innings, take things slow and steady without losing his wicket. All in all he has been the player the team has batted around, not a small feat for someone just barely out of his teens. Another important facet of his game that receives little attention is that he scores well away from home. A feat which few if any Bangladeshi players can lay claim to.

But if one were to wholly categorise him as a One Day player it would be incorrect. His greatest innings of the year was completely out of character, when he flayed mighty Australia in that extraordinary Test match at Fatullah. Warne, McGill and Brett Lee were taken to the cleaners as he showed his full repertoire of strokes. It was an innings of a lifetime.

His nomination for the ICC Emerging-Cricketer-of-the-Year was another highlight, and he showed great humility when he said “It is very encouraging but I don't see anything from an individual's perspective.”

From long shaggy hair at the beginning of the year to a sensible hairstyle and mature demeanour towards the end of it, this year has truly been a life-changing experience for Shahriar Nafees. He has grown up. Always the team man, this year has been one of personal glory hidden beneath the blanket of team success.



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