People know Hamin Ahmed as the lead guitarist of the legendary pop-rock band Miles, but few know about his career as a successful cricketer in the 1980s. In a career spanning ten years, Hamin played for illustrious local clubs such as Azad Boys, National Sporting, Shurja Tarun, Mohammedan and Abahani and represented Bangladesh in the ICC Trophy of 1986.
Hamin spoke to The Business Standard in an exclusive interview about his beginning as a cricketer, his career highlights and the challenges he faced back then.
TBS: How did you start your career as a cricket player?
Hamin: My elder brother, Tahsin, used to play cricket for Victoria Cricket Club. He told me, "Instead of idling away your time, why don't you play some cricket. I replied, " I can play, but who will take me?"
Within a week, he managed a club for me. I met Zaman Bhai and famous commentator Ataul Haque Mallik who used to run a club named National Sporting Club out of their passion. The team was playing in the Premier Division back then. Zaman Bhai was really polite with me. He was very impressed with my batting and the way I used to play straight down the ground.
Fortunately, I was picked in the squad for the first match of the season. The match was against Young Pegasus and it was a high-scoring one. I was slotted at number five.
It was a 60-over match and Young Pegasus batted first. They scored 307. We had to bat for 15 overs that day and the game was supposed to resume the next day. One of our openers got out in the third over. To my surprise, Zaman Bhai asked me to pad up and go to bat as a night watchman. He told me to play straight and not do anything extravagant. I played straight and flicked some of the deliveries. I was not out on 14 at the stumps. The next day I made 38 and Zaman Bhai was so happy that he sealed the opening slot for me. So that's how my 10-year long cricketing career began.
TBS: Who were your idols back then?
Hamin: I was really fascinated by Sir Vivian Richards. If I talk about all-rounders, it would definitely be Imran Khan. I also had an admiration for the Caribbean pace quartet. In Bangladesh, it would be Yousuf Rahman Babu. The way he played cricket was incredible. He brought a new dimension in our cricket. And I also idolised Nehal Hasnain and Rafiqul Alam.
TBS: How supportive was your family?
Hamin: My father was an ardent follower of cricket. My father was a life member of the Eden Gardens and watched numerous matches there. At that time, international matches were hardly telecast. So we along with my father used to listen to radio commentaries of matches. When we played cricket, we got full support from the family.
TBS: How was the cricket infrastructure back then?
Hamin: To be honest, there was nothing much to talk about. The cricketers and the organizers played for the teams and run them completely out of passion. We didn't enjoy proper coaching. We didn't have cricketing gears, we had to buy them on our own. They used to fill buckets up with water then throw in a few slices of lemon and salt and we had to drink that. It wasn't the most hygienic but it was what it was. We didn't have proper turfs to play. So yes, we used to play cricket totally because of the love and passion for the game.
TBS: What were the challenges you had to face at that time?
Hamin: We didn't have a single proper wicket where we could play. That was the biggest challenge for us players. Most of the matches were held at the two outer grounds which were relatively smaller in size and there were mat wickets there. So, 220-240 was a par score in a 40-over match. But when we switched to play at the Bangabandhu Stadium, it was extremely difficult for us to adapt. Almost every sport was played there and the wickets were not protected. So it was very difficult to survive in these wickets especially for us openers. There were so many cracks and the ball would swing and bounce variably. So these were the challenges. It was very difficult for us to adapt to
TBS: What were your memorable achievements as a player?
Hamin: Playing for Bangladesh in the 1986 ICC Trophy is one of the highest points of my career. I scored the most number of runs in those green tops and I had the highest batting average among our batsmen. I scored 86 - which was the highest individual score among our batsmen - in one of the matches which were particularly satisfying. I bowled in two matches and got three wickets. And I can remember another great performance of mine. I was playing for Bogura. The match against the BIWTC Team which had lots of national cricketers. I scored a blistering 98 against a quality bowling attack. This remains a memorable moment in my career.
TBS: What do you make of the cricket team now?
Hamin: Well, it's a great team. Players like Mashrafe, Tamim, Shakib, Mushfiq, Mahmudullah, Rubel have served the team for many years. But I can see a lack of mental strength in the newer players. You can spend hours at the nets, batting and bowling. But you have to make decisions while you are playing. We cannot field three different elevens in three different formats. Our sources are limited and we have to make the most of it. The players are talented but especially the newer ones lack application and mental strength.
TBS: What are your thoughts on T20 cricket?
Hamin: It's totally an unnecessary format. It doesn't give anything to cricket. I hardly watch T20 cricket. Cricket is a game of glorious uncertainty. But if you take the uncertainty away from cricket, then the game cannot remain glorious anymore.
TBS: If Miles wasn't successful would you have chosen a career in cricket?
Hamin: It's not like that. The way Miles started, the amount of passion and drive we had for music, it had to be successful. When I left cricket, I was at my peak. But the money I used to get was not enough by any means. So I had to make a choice. I could've continued for another five years. But I decided to start my own business. It was difficult to leave cricket, but you have to consider the financial aspect as well. My decision of leaving cricket had nothing to do with the success or failure of Miles.
TBS: Would you like to leave a message for your fans?
Hamin: Wherever you are, whatever you are doing, protect yourself. Watch cricket, learn about cricket. It's not all about fours and sixes. Cricket is enjoyable whether runs are scored or not. And stay with Miles, you are the greatest achievement we've ever had.