Tushar Imran, one of the seasoned campaigners of Bangladesh domestic cricket, is likely to retire from professional cricket after the just-started domestic season. He is the only Bangladesh cricketer to have secured more than 10,000 First-class runs. He is also the first and only Bangladeshi cricketer till date to record more than 30 First-class centuries. The right-handed batsman recently had a good conversation with the Business Standard. He talked about various aspects of his career and many more.
TBS: A new season of domestic cricket has started. What is your goal this season?
Tushar Imran: Honestly speaking, I have not set any goal for this season. Currently, I am upset for some reasons. I did not get the reward of playing notably well during the last three-four years. I set a goal every year before starting a new season. But this time around, to be honest, I could not set any goal.
TBS: How tough is it to plan your game when you know that there is practically no hope for you to get another national call-up despite doing really well?
Tushar: It is tough, very tough. I played well in the last three-four seasons but did not get called up for the national team, although there was a need for some experienced players in the national team. We are a good team in ODIs and T20Is, but I am talking about our Test squad. Instead of trying out new talents in Tests, the selectors could have tested some experienced players, who have been doing well in the domestic circuit over the years. So it is really tough to plan your game without seeing any reward in the future. I might call my time before the next season.
TBS: Despite failing in the fitness test, you are playing NCL under special consideration from the selectors. Do you think this stance of the board can end the career of some senior players in the coming years?
Tushar: I think it will throw the future of many senior players in jeopardy. Not just senior players, it will also make it tough for some young guys as well. I think the players older than 30 will face a stiff challenge in the future if they don't have a quality fitness level. Look at Yasir Ali Rabbi, he is just 23 years old. But as he failed to score 11 in the beep test, he is out of the NCL (National Cricket League). This is not good for a player who is good in his main job - batting. He might be busy to improve his batting now, but at the same time, it might harm his batting ability.
TBS: Do you want the regular domestic performers to be allowed to play in spite of a lower fitness level, just because of their strength as the players?
Tushar: Definitely, they deserve a chance to play. The five fingers of your hand are not equal. I find it illogical to axe a player for not having a certain fitness level in spite of his good record in the field. I have played many matches with Yasir. He has the potential of becoming a big name in Bangladesh cricket.
TBS: Do you have any bad feelings for yourself? You played really well in the last three-four seasons but another national call-up remained illusive. Now, you are close to ending your career.
Tushar: If you play a really good brand of cricket over the years and fail to draw the attention of the selectors, what will happen to you? It will surely make you down mentally. We are professional cricketers. We have to play cricket to run our family. But if you don't get the right reward, it forces you to feel sorry for yourself.
TBS: You might have thought of many reasons for your downfall. Did you find any specific reason why you never got another national call-up?
Tushar: Of course, there were some reasons. When I was called up to play Test cricket, I was only 19-20 years old. I was not mature enough to understand what Test cricket is, why I need to do well in this format of the game. I did not even know what the batting average is. I failed to do well in the five Tests I played. So analysing my performances in international cricket, the selectors might not have considered me as good enough for another run. But when I got complete as a batsman, they did not have time to look at me.
TBS: If you keep the agony of a national return away, are you satisfied with your career which has spanned almost two decades? No batsman in the current domestic circuit started their career with you, you may know.
Tushar: Yes, it is really satisfying. I had the dream to be a sportsman during my childhood. My mother wanted me to be a footballer. I also tried my hand in hockey. I actually spent a lot of time playing hockey during my school days, which helped me to have good fitness. Later, that also helped me to become a cricketer who has been playing top-level cricket for almost two decades.
TBS: Since you are involved in playing cricket for a long time, you are of course one of the men who can answer this question better - according to you, what is the main change that Bangladesh cricket has come through?
Tushar: I think mental positivity is the main change in the current bunch of our national cricketers. During our days, we were not competent enough to think about winning games against the likes of England, New Zealand, South Africa or India. But now, we are beating them. I think it has been possible for the positive mentality of our cricketers. It has developed over the years. Now, Shakib (Al Hasan), Tamim (Iqbal), Mahmudullah (Riyad) are hungry for success. I think their hunger for success is the key to Bangladesh's promotion to the next level. The current cricketers are technically very sound and they play to win. But 15 years ago, we only dared to beat the teams like Kenya, Zimbabwe.
TBS: What are the changes that you have noticed in domestic cricket during the last two decades?
Tushar: Domestic cricket has changed a lot but it is not enough, it should have changed more. There was only 400 to 500 taka as the daily allowance during our early days in National Cricket League (NCL) or other domestic events. But now we get 35 thousand takas as match fee in the First-class arena. But I think this is not enough. If the board increases the match fees, players will be more focused on playing cricket and developing their fitness. If you look at the other countries like England, Australia or India, their domestic cricketers are paid a handsome amount, which inspires them to stay more focused on their game instead of thinking about another source of sustentation.
TBS: Where do you want to see Bangladesh cricket in the coming days?
Tushar: We have cricketers who are the backbone of the current national set-up. But they are close to ending their career within the next four or five years. I think in this period we will do something remarkable. The next World Cup is in Asia. If we can't do it now then when? After five years, we have to go through a transition period like Sri Lanka are going now. But after that period, we might be one of the strongest cricket nations in the world.
TBS: The last question for today- what is your plan after quitting professional cricket?
Tushar: I am not sure yet. But I have done some thinking in my mind. I might try my hand in coaching. Let's see what BCB has in their mind about the senior players who are close to saying goodbye to professional cricket