"I have always dreamt of wearing the national team's jersey and playing. But that's not all. I have bigger dreams too."
These were the words of Sumon Khan who has made quite a stir in the cricketing arena with his performance in the BCB President's Cup final.
The right-arm fast-bowler took five wickets in the final for Mahmudullah XI to ensure Najmul XI were unable to post a total in excess of 200.
But Sumon's career trajectory was headed towards a different direction as his parents always wanted him to focus on his academics.
Being a meritorious student with a GPA 5 score in his HSC, Sumon was doing his BBA in North South University.
But after four semesters there, he decided to pursue his dreams of becoming a cricketer and he got admitted in the country's top cricketing academy, the BKSP.
He asked his father Sultan Ali Khan to give him three years to make it as a cricketer and his father also obliged, saying: "After three years, don't prove me right. Prove me wrong."
After doing well in the domestic circuit for quite some time, Sumon is now in the radar of the BCB.
The 20-year-old spoke in depth about his career's early days, and future plans with The Business Standard (TBS).
"To be very honest, I have always dreamt of being a cricketer from the get go. But I didn't realise that the path would be so challenging. Add to that, I never got the full support from my family when I expressed my desires to become a cricketer. One of the reasons was because I was good in my studies and always got good marks," said Sumon.
Sumon explains how he managed to perform well in the tournament and how so many more people in the country are aware of his name and his talents: "It feels great to do well but this is just the beginning. I have to aim higher and save my celebrations for the future. I worked hard on my fitness in the 5-6 months we had off during quarantine. Thankfully, the Almighty has rewarded me here."
The fast bowler was a standby player in another team before getting called up to Mahmudullah's side and he made sure to make that opportunity count.
"It hurt me that I was not in any team and just a standby, especially with cricket returning after so long. But an injury to another pace bowler gave me my opportunity and I made sure I gave my level best. Because if I can do well here, I can move ahead. If not, it's not the end of the journey, I'd have to try harder next time," he added.
Seeing the other pacers do so well in the tournament inspired Sumon to do well: "I understood that taking one or two wickets in a match was not going to be enough. I'd have to do more to grab everyone's attention and I have to thank the Almighty that I got the opportunity and was able to do well here."
Sumon is now back with the high-performance team in their camp and practicing there and he detailed on how he began his cricketing journey.
"I used to play tape-tennis cricket in Manikganj and was well known for my bowling there. I knew that if I could replicate that form with a cricket ball, it would be good for me. Later on in 2016, there was a pacer hunt, where Ebadot Bhai (Hossain) won and I was among the top 20. So that's when I realised that I can make it here if I tried harder."
But unfortunately, Sumon's physio told him that he has talent but his fitness was not up to the mark and he had a beep test score of 8.9.
As a result he was ousted from the academy camp: "I realised then that I'd have to do something special to improve my fitness and that led me to leaving North South University and joining BKSP. But my family would not agree, so I tried convincing my father and I told him to give me three years."
From there, he went on to play well in domestic cricket and also got a chance in the Bangladesh Premier League (BPL) but he explains that convincing his father, who is a retired BGB officer, was no easy task.
"Even though my father initially did not agree, I convinced him to give me three years. After that, in the BKSP there were a new set of challenges. Doing well there, adjusting to a new culture and everything was new. I was not 17-18 like most of the others so it was even more difficult for me. But somehow I managed and did the extra work required to get the attention of the coaches and that led to my debut in first class cricket."
Sumon's performances in first-class cricket were also good and that was the result of the hard work he had put in at the BKSP: "We were runners-up in my first season and got promoted to the BKSP Premier League. And after doing well there, I felt like I would get a chance in the high-performance team. That eventually happened."
Now Sumon's fitness is much better than before and he can score almost 13 in the beep test. He explains that his idol is Mashrafe bin Mortaza and bowling idol James Anderson: "Mashrafe Bhai is a great human being and I love how James Anderson can make the ball swing. At a young age, I also liked Brett Lee."
There is a T20 league coming up in November and his aim is to do well there: "I want to be consistent in my performances and improve more. I need to work on my mistakes and eliminate them."
The biggest dream for Sumon is not just playing for the national team, but even bigger than that: "I have bigger dreams. I don't want to say them. I want to go and prove it in the field."