The entire Bangladeshi cricketing arena was stunned on Friday as Ramchand Goala, often considered as the pioneer of Bangladesh's lasting legacy of left-arm spinners, breathed his last. He died because of natural causes at the age of 79.
Ramchand played for Abahani for more than a decade before retiring in 1993, bagging the crown of most wickets in Bangladesh. A few days prior to his death, Ramchand spoke to The Business Standard (TBS) about his personal life and the country's cricketing arena in an exclusive interview.
TBS: How are you?
Ramchand: I am alive. From the outside, I look well, but it's hollow inside. My health is not very well, just living off the Almighty's blessings.
TBS: We would like to talk about your playing days and your personal life.
Ramchand: I have no personal life. I have indulged my whole life in sports. Sports is my life.
TBS: Tell us a bit about your early days as a cricket.
Ramchand: I learnt the trade here at Mymensingh. I was interested in fast bowling at first but then realised that I was doing well bowling spin. So, I sacrificed my dream of being a seamer and started bowling left-arm spin. Back then, very few batsmen could play my left-arm spin. This brought me recognition.
TBS: How do you feel about the current cricketing arena?
Ramchand: I was delighted to see the Under-19 side winning the World Cup, the boys played really well. Or else how did they win? Winning is not that easy. When they won the trophy, I felt as young as them. I was very happy. The current players are doing well. They have more facilities now so the national team is doing well. But we must be consistent.
TBS: What should the board do to ensure consistency?
Ramchand: There is a huge chunk of players who are unable to demonstrate their talents. There are many talented players in rural areas who are not being sought after. It is wrong to assume that national team players will only come from the Dhaka Premier League. If tournaments were held regularly at the grassroots level, then they could find new talents. BCB must focus on this aspect. They will have to understand that there might be good players in rural areas and they must find them out and train them properly. They have to create a pipeline.
TBS: What do you think about cricket in Mymensingh? Some of them have already featured for the national team.
Ramchand: The quality of sports in Mymensingh has trickled down. There are no good coaches and nobody asked me for help. There is a shortage of coaches throughout the country. There are good coaches in the suburbs but nobody cares about them. This needs attention.
TBS: What do you dream about cricket now?
Ramchand: I dream that like their juniors, the national team will also lift the World Cup. I will watch the processions standing on the street.