Our cricketers in 1971
Recently, in a bid to write the biographies of some of our first generation cricketers (for Wikipedia), I was searching through the pages of www.cricketarchive.co.uk. I was looking at the scorecards of different 1st Class Matches played in erstwhile East Pakistan during the 60's. With great interest I was reading how our local heroes (Halim Chowdhury, better known as Shahid Jewel, Shamim Kabir, Raqibul Hasan, Daulat-uz-Zaman & others) combined with the Non Bengali players like MA Latif, (Maharashtra born East Pakistan Captain) or Nasim Ul Ghani (Delhi born Pak Test player). Together, they played against the likes of Zaheer Abbas, Mushtaq Mohammad, Majed Khan & others.
While searching through the pages, I found out an interesting piece of information. During the 1970-71 season, The Quaid-e-Azam trophy, the leading 1st Class tournament in Pakistan started on 9th March, 1971. The Group IV included PIA (B), East Pakistan & Dacca University. Dacca stadium was the scheduled venue. Yet, no matches in this group were played as both Dacca University & East Pakistan gave walkover to the PIA side. Following the historical speech of 7th March, the whole of East Pakistan was in a state of alert, preparing for the inevitable confrontation with the Military Junta. By denying to play, our cricketers, in their own way expressed their support for the ongoing movement.
It was a small, but a firm gesture by our cricketers. It was especially brave on the part of Raqibul Hasan, as the young opener was considered to be on the brink of winning a Pakistan cap. He would eventually play a full ODI, 15 years later, for Bangladesh, ironically, against Pakistan. In Jan 1977, Shamim Kabir became the 1st captain of Bangladesh. But Halim Chowdhury, the ever reliable opening bat, wasn't so lucky. He died during the liberation war, but he is still remembered in our cricketing world as Shahid Jewel.
For the record, the Airlines team (led by Shafqat Rana) reached SF with full points. They lost their SF match at Karachi, against the eventual champions Karachi Blues.