Whenever one takes a trip down memory lane to Bangladesh's two greatest one-day triumphs -- against Australia in Cardiff in 2005 and South Africa in the 2007 World Cup in the Caribbean -- the now banned Mohammad Ashraful's name comes first, but not far behind is the diminutive figure of Aftab Ahmed. The six that the right-hander hit off Jason Gillespie over wide long-on in the first ball of the last over at Cardiff to level the score and the two sixes during his 35 against South Africa in 2007 feature prominently in any discussion of Bangladesh cricket's sweet memories.
Flamboyant is the word synonymous with Aftab's batting. The 28-year old Chittagonian with a laidback approach arrived on the international scene in 2004 with lots of promise but hardly justified his talent, which could be the reason there was not much of a stir when he declared yesterday during a two-day inter-club players' transfer at the Bangabandhu National Stadium that this season of the Dhaka Premier League Cricket would be his last in competitive cricket. Aftab played his last international match, a T20I against Australia in Bridgetown, in May 2010 and silently went into cricketing wilderness thereafter.
He did play some good innings after that, including a relegation-staving 90 for Brothers Union last season, but Aftab believes that now is the time to concentrate on his cricket academy in Chittagong.
“Cricket is now very tough and I thought that it's the right time for me to say goodbye to competitive cricket,” said Aftab, who started his premier league career with Bangladesh Biman in 2001 where his 82 against Mohammedan is still remembered by ardent cricket followers.
When asked whether he has any regret about his international career, Aftab said: “Of course I could not finish as per my wish. I had a good start but I stumbled, especially the ICL (the rebel Indian Cricket League) gap hurt my career badly. But the most satisfying fact in my career is the affection and love I got from the supporters. Still people love me as a cricketer,” said Aftab. He is yet to complete level-2 and level-3 coaching qualifications but dreams of contributing for the country as a coach.