In a tournament that had batters like Pakistan’s Babar Azam, South Africa’s Quinton de Kock, who have since taken the world of international cricket by storm, Anamul ruled the roost.
When Anamul got out for a duck in the second innings of the Saint Lucia Test against West Indies on 16 September, 2014 the right-hander knew an omission from the Test team was on the cards.
After four Tests, Anamul had a lacklustre average of 9.12 with a highest score of 22. But by then Anamul was a regular member of the limited-overs side and had formed an opening partnership with Tamim Iqbal.
But an injury while fielding against Scotland in a group-stage match of the 2015 ICC World Cup ruled him out for a few months. His injury coincided with the emergence of Soumya Sarkar and Liton Das in limited-overs cricket and at the same time Imrul Kayes got a second wind in his career as a Test opener.
Anamul, who was considered the next big thing in Bangladesh cricket, had been reduced to an afterthought.
Anamul was seemingly set to join the long list of promising players in Bangladesh cricket who were fast-tracked to the national team and then quickly ousted and forgotten.
But the right-hander, to his credit, was not willing to disappear into the dying light without putting up a fight. As the saying goes, when the going gets tough, the tough get going. And Anamul, definitely, falls into the category of tough people.
Anamul grinded it out in Bangladesh’s domestic circuit and played for the national side’s understudy teams. His performances were consistent with the occasional dip in form, which every player faces.
But Bangladesh’s selectors, as per their own admission, don’t always take performances in the country’s domestic circuit into account as according to them the standard there is not up to snuff.
However, Anamul kept mounting pressure on the selectors with big scores in the domestic circuit and eventually clawed his way back into the ODI team in 2018.
But Anamul failed to grab his opportunity and after seven matches was once again dropped from the team.
Anamul’s ouster seems justified as he failed to score big when the opportunity arrived. But there is a catch.
Anamul returned to the ODI side after becoming the highest run-getter in the country’s domestic four-day competition. Performance in red-ball cricket doesn’t guarantee success in white-ball cricket where the challenges are completely different.
But the selectors displayed selective blindness in Anamul’s case by selecting him for the limited-overs side. Anamul failed to replicate his red-ball form in white-ball and once again disappeared from the international scene.
Getting dropped twice from the team is a psychological blow for any cricketer and would be enough to mentally break many.
But Anamul still didn’t get bogged down. He returned to the domestic scene and again started churning out runs in huge quantities.
Anamul needed to do something extraordinary to once again return to the national team and he did exactly that in this year’s domestic 50-over competition Dhaka Premier League.
Anamul made 1,138 runs in 15 matches with nine half-centuries and three centuries. He broke a 31-year-old record set by Australian batsman Tom Moody of scoring the most number of runs in a 50-over tournament.
Moody, a former World Cup winning player from Australia, had made 917 runs in 15 innings in a One-Day tournament in England, playing for Worcestershire. Anamul broke his record and became the only batsmen in the world to score more than 1,000 runs in a List-A tournament.
After a record-setting season like that, the selectors almost had to pick him for the national team once again. They included him for the ODI and Twenty20 International series against West Indies.
Anamul’s wait to return to Test cricket wasn’t supposed to end in this series. But Mushfiqur Rahim taking a leave for the hajj pilgrimage, Yasir Ali then suffering and injury and former skipper Mominul Haque’s horrid form opened the door for the right-hander.
He resumed his Test career almost eight years later, that too against the same opponents and at the same venue, the Darren Sammy Stadium in Saint Lucia.
Anamul couldn’t set the stage on fire in his comeback innings, getting out lbw for 23, one better than his previous highest score in Tests. But he will get another crack in the second innings and is likely to play more matches in the ODI and T20 series.
At 29 years of age, this could very well be Anamul’s final chance to have a proper international career. If not, who knows what mountains Anamul would have to move next to get another chance in the national team.