I know him from way back. To be precise, I know Mahmudul Hasan Joy from 2014. We studied together at BKSP. You must have noticed that he is always calm on the field. I have always seen him like this from the time I first saw him. Many people act one way on the field and another way outside of it. Joy isn’t like that. He is the same everywhere.
Normally, a cricketer’s personality comes out on the field. Joy is no different. Just look at his batting. His batting is just like his demeanor, calm and composed. I’ve noticed this from the start, he can stay at the crease for long periods. In the Under-19 World Cup, you saw Joy bat one way. Now everyone is seeing a different Joy in the national team. After his century against South Africa in the Durban Test, people are buzzing about his ability to bat for a long time.
He had a big role in Bangladesh winning a Test in New Zealand. He scored a century in his very next Test in South Africa. In both those innings, Joy batted like an ideal Test batsman. This may have surprised many, but I had no doubts about his ability in Test cricket. Those of us who have seen Joy up close know that this is Joy. He has the ability. Even in future, we will see him bat for a long time and play similar big innings.
To play a big innings, one has to be very strong mentally. Joy has that attitude. He knows his abilities, and tries to bat within himself. He knows his game very well. He is well aware of his strengths and weaknesses. This is very important for a batsman.
On the cricket field, Joy has always been a “Silent Character”. If someone sledges him, he doesn’t really react. When we played amongst ourselves, sledging would be of no use against Joy. He would continue going about his work quietly. In New Zealand, I saw that Neil Wagner (New Zealand pacer) was sledging him. But Joy was just looking at him with a smile. This is Joy. We are used to seeing him react like that.
I have many fun memories with Joy. There are so many stories I don’t know which one I should relate. One of the fond on-field memories I have with him is the semifinal match of the U-19 World Cup. We were playing against New Zealand. We had toured New Zealand before the World Cup. In that tour, Joy had played a 99-run innings. Before the semifinal, I was trying to remind Joy that New Zealand is his favourite opponent. By repeating this countless of times, we established that New Zealand is Joy’s favourite opponent.
In the end, it was Joy who scored a century in the semifinal, that too from a tough situation. We lost two wickets very cheaply. It’s not easy to play a match winning innings in a knockout game from that position. This is one of the many on-field memories I have with Joy.
We share a friendship spanning many years, we have spent a lot of time together. I have many memories with Joy even outside of the field. No matter where we toured to play, we would always go out together for dinner. Three, four of us would go out together and try a different cuisine like Turkish, Japanese or Italian every night.
I don’t believe in making predictions for the future because cricket is a game where it is impossible to predict how someone will perform. But if we talk about ability, Joy has the ability to do achieve a lot of big things. He has already showed glimpses of this. I hope that he will deliver many big things for Bangladesh cricket in the future.
* Akbar Ali is a cricketer, Bangladesh’s Under-19 World Cup winning captain
*This appeared in the print and online edition of Prothom Alo and has been rewritten for the English edition by Ashfaq-Ul-Alam Niloy.