An international career spanning more than a decade. Still, Imrul Kayes' place in the national team is not cemented. He has been in and out of the side throughout his career but Imrul gives his all whenever he is called up.
Kayes was dropped from the ODI side in December 2018 and the left-hander has been overlooked in the format since then. He was also overlooked for the 2019 World Cup.
Imrul Kayes spoke to The Business Standard (TBS) about his career, life and beyond.
TBS: How has life been over the past few months?
Imrul: Bit of running, gym, watching TV, spending time with my family members- that's how it's been for the last three-four months.
TBS: How difficult is it for cricketers like you to stay away from cricket for so many days?
Imrul: To be honest, there are certain things that we can't control. At the moment, everything is uncertain. Being safe and healthy is the main priority at the moment. Still, staying away from cricket is definitely frustrating.
TBS: What is the most important lesson you've learned during this period?
Imrul: The uncertainty of life, you never know when you are going to die. People can fall sick and die all of a sudden.
TBS: Almost all the series involving Bangladesh has been called off. How frustrating is it for you?
Imrul: We don't get to play too many matches. It's always depressing to see so many series being postponed. One year is quite a long time for a cricketer.
TBS: There has been no cricket at all since March in Bangladesh. So how difficult will the near future be the professional cricketers?
Imrul: Cricketers who earn their livelihood playing only domestic cricket will be in deep trouble financially. It is a huge setback for them.
TBS: What is the biggest life lesson you've learned while playing cricket?
Imrul: Cricket teaches you to remain honest to yourself and your job. A cricketer who has a sporting mentality cannot do anything immoral.
TBS: You played brilliantly against Zimbabwe in 2018. But you were dropped from the team after failing in two matches against West Indies. Since then you've been out of the team. Do you think it was unjust to axe you?
Imrul: It was shocking. I scored a record number of runs against Zimbabwe. I opened in that series. Then suddenly I was demoted to number three in the next series. I couldn't do well there. Batting position is a very significant thing. But I never had a settled one. I was dropped from the World Cup squad. I was distraught. Because I knew I did my best to be picked in the squad. It was tough to digest, but there was nothing to do. I feel it's always easy to make me the scapegoat.
The fans in our country notice only the present, nothing else. Whenever I score runs, people think that I can only score against Zimbabwe. Many cricketers score against Zimbabwe or other teams and get praised. But whenever I score runs, it becomes: Imrul Kayes scored against Zimbabwe.
Bangladesh was about to lose against Zimbabwe in the match I scored 144. But still, nobody evaluated that innings properly saying that it was scored against Zimbabwe. This is very disheartening. You might not respect someone but you can't demean a person.
I was also criticised when I scored the century against England. People said that it was a selfish innings and I couldn't guide the team to victory. Nobody can win a match single-handedly, I was left stranded in the middle. My hundred against England was given no value. Actually, it has become very easy to put in a comment about me.
TBS: You made your debut in 2008. But still, you are not regular in the team. Is it completely your failure or others are also responsible?
Imrul: I cannot blame my luck or blame others completely. I have to accept responsibility too. Yes, it was my failure to not perform in every match. I needed to be more consistent. But luck was not on my side.
TBS: You have opened in a lot of matches with Tamim Iqbal. Tamim is definitely the first-choice opener. Do you think you could've performed better if you were given a sealed spot?
Imrul: Many of us opened with Tamim. But Tamim also struggled at some point of his career. But the team backed him. If the others had got the backing like this, it would've been better for them.
TBS: Were you given the freedom a cricket needs to perform well?
Imrul: There was a time when I knew what my role was in the team. Jamie Siddons used to have me as an opener to see off the early burst. But when he left, things became difficult for me. I could not understand my role in the team. But you cannot change your playing style overnight. That's why I was in and out of the side. I can't say I was not given the freedom. But it would've been better for me if I had a specific role in the team.
TBS: How difficult is it to deal with the criticism from the spectators?
Imrul: Fans want to see only fours and sixes. But it's definitely not the way to play cricket. It's depressing when they don't evaluate our efforts.
TBS: What's your biggest regret in your career?
Imrul: Not playing the 2019 World Cup. I had contributions in many of our important victories. But I badly wanted to play the 2019 World Cup, which I couldn't.