A true gentleman in all whites | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, June 02, 2015 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:14 AM, June 04, 2015

A true gentleman in all whites

Aminul Huq Moni, the former general secretary of the Bangladesh Cricket Board, died on Sunday night at a Dhaka hospital. He was 66. Aminul had been ill for more than two years and had suffered a heart attack on April 8. He was on life support in the ICU since then. BCB director and sports organiser Ahmed Sajjadul Alam Bobby reflects on the life of this selfless gentleman, his works and contribution towards developing the sport of cricket in Bangladesh.​

When I was attending the namaz-e-janaza of Bachchu bhai (Sirajul Islam) at the Bangladesh Football Federation yesterday (Sunday night) television journalists asked what I was doing there since I belonged to the cricketing arena and Bacchu bhai was known for his work in football.

I told them that when we organised sports and worked with clubs back in the mid 70’s, and early 80’s Bachchu bhai was already an established organiser. In those days, clubs like Mohammedan and Abahani participated in many disciplines and we didn't think that if this wasn't our sport, we wouldn't go there.

We all went together. We only specialised in a sport after coming into a board or at the federation level, but at the club level, every discipline belonged to us.

When I returned home late last night, someone rang me up and told me that Moni bhai passed away as well. I wanted to go to the hospital, but I was told to come to the Mohammedan Sporting club the next day. 

Moni bhai was no different from Bachchu bhai -- both were organisers of the same school of thought –a philosophy that we learned from them.

Moni bhai was a multi-skilled personality. He played cricket for Bangladesh Boys and National Sporting. He was also a very good student and obtained first class degree in applied physics from Dhaka University where he also did a bit of teaching.

He later got involved in business but at the same time found time to discuss cricket and other sports with close friends --- Jogesh da, Pakka bhai and Kamal bhai -- at that Islamia restaurant of the Bangabandhu National Stadium. I still recall and relish those addas in the late seventies and early eighties.

Moni bhai also used to do a bit of umpiring whenever there was a crisis. He was basically the man to go to during a crisis. Whenever Mohammedan fell in trouble, they turned to him. 

I first met him in the 70s when I represented Abahani in the DMSA (Dhaka Metropolis Sports Association). It was an organisation that ran all the Dhaka leagues, including football and cricket. 

Moni bhai became a joint secretary of the cricket board in 1983. And it was the time when KZ Islam was president and he excelled as an organiser. KZ Islam bhai did provide the funding, but it was Moni bhai's tireless effort that made Nirman School cricket so popular and successful.

It was also at that time Bangladesh travelled to Kenya, the most important bilateral tour, and Moni bhai was the manager. A man who was always in pyjama and Panjabi was wearing a blazer, and that's when I jokingly told him that he looked ill.

Our domestic cricket, especially the Dhaka league really flourished after he became the cricket board's general secretary in 1991. At that time many international players started coming to Dhaka and that popularised the game and attracted sponsors as well.

There were a number of things that he did for Bangladesh's cricket but to me his landmark achievement was when he managed to install two Astroturfs for the Dhaka Cricket League. One was at the Abahani ground, while the other was at the Bangabandhu National Stadium.

The sole intention behind that was that the 1997 ICC Trophy was going to be played on Astroturf in Malaysia. So our players got two full seasons on those turfs and the result was phenomenal. We won the 1997 ICC Trophy from where our cricket never looked back. It's a legendary story now.

I never saw him get angry. He was soft spoken, never shouted or never did he use any slangs or any swear words. I also never saw him use the board's money for any personal purpose, not even to drink a cup of tea. He always put his hands in his own pocket and bought food for us.

He, along with Reza-e-Karim, formulated the tournaments and leagues' playing conditions and bylaws, which we still use today. Back then the MCC's rules and laws were translated into Bengali and spread throughout the country with the help of another gentleman, Ataul Haq Mallik. They worked silently.

He also served as chairman of BCB's game development committee. But I feel that he couldn't progress the way he wanted to because of some obstacles that were deliberately put in his way by people who were supposedly close to him.

I talked with him on a number of occasions when he was Bangla Vision's managing director. I had promised to meet him there but unfortunately, I couldn't keep that promise.That is one regret that I will carry for the rest of my life.

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