I’ll either hit or go down swinging: Towhid Hridoy

Towhid HridoyShamsul Hoque
Towhid Hridoy is a man of few words. His bat does all the talking for him. His bat has been talking non-stop since this year’s BPL. In 12 innings, Towhid made 403 runs in that tournament at a strike rate of 140. Not just the amount of runs, but the way in which he scored those runs in the BPL opened the doors of the national team for Towhid. The start to his international career has also been remarkable. In an international career spanning just nine matches, there have been quite a few highs and lows

Q :

Domestic cricket, international cricket… you have been scoring runs everywhere. You’re surely enjoying this period?

So far, so good. Hopefully it will be even better in the future.

Towhid Hridoy has burst onto the scenes for Bangladesh
Shamsul Hqoue

Q :

Even one year back, the scenario was completely different…

Cricket has changed quite a lot. If I don’t update myself regularly, it would be really difficult to survive. If you get stuck at one place, you will see that nothing is happening. So, it’s very important to keep improving. And if I can start improving from the very start of my career, even better.

Q :

There was a big change in your mindset after your failure in last year’s BPL…

Yes, I started thinking differently after playing poorly in last year’s BPL. The situation was such that I had to change myself.

In the first match, after I got out trying to hit Moen Ali for a six, many were saying that I didn’t need to go for a big shot. But my thinking was that I will take him on. Was it necessary or not, was it an easy shot or not– I didn’t think about these things. I just thought, an off-spinner is bowling, I have to hit him for boundaries.
Towhid Hridoy

Q :

You had a chance to win the BPL final. Your team needed three runs from the last ball, but you failed to score those runs…

I was very upset. That was the best opportunity of my life. But I couldn’t utilise it. But I tried to recollect myself quickly and began training with the right mindset.

Q :

The word mindset is coming up repeatedly…

The change in my mindset helped me the most. Courage played a huge role. There were also some minor technical issues which I worked on with Sohel sir. Sujon sir (Khaled Mahmud) knows me since I was a kid, he always had a lot of faith in me. After the BPL, I didn’t do too well at the (Dhaka) Premier League as well. I played for Abahani. But my batting position was moved around quite a lot. Still, now I feel like that period in one way was good for me. I have managed to bounce back from it. What Allah does is for the best. If that hadn’t happened, the things happening right now also would not have happened.

Towhid Hridoy nearly scored a century on ODI debut
Shamsul Hoque

Q :

But the story behind the shift in your batting is still a secret. So much change in just one year, especially your six hitting ability, batting at an elevated strike rate, changes in these aspects have surprised many.

I have played in two Under-19 World Cups. The first one was in New Zealand in 2018. At that time, my batting technique was different. In the 2020 World Cup, my technique had changed. At that time our coach was Naveed Nawaz. I informed Sujon sir that the coach is asking me to make changes in my batting. What Nawaz told me was very effective for 50-over cricket or the U-19 level. I was successful playing the way the coach had told me. I hit many centuries. Under the previous coach, Damien (Wright), I used to hit big sixes. But when I changed my technique, my six hitting stopped. I started hitting fours and taking a lot of singles.

I played grounded shots really well. I thought that I could hit sixes when I was a kid, I was hitting sixes even in my first U-19 World Cup. Why can’t I hit them now? What’s the problem? After thinking about it for a few days I saw my old batting clips. Then I noticed a change. I figured it out myself. Then I spoke with Sohel sir and Sujon sir and returned to my old batting technique. I used to hit big sixes since when I was a kid. People used to say, how do you hit such big sixes with such a small physique. They still do. Even during this BPL, many told me, you don’t have any bulk, still how are you hitting such big sixes? I also heard the same thing during the Premier League. I told them, you don’t need a lot of strength to hit sixes. The technique is the main thing.

Q :

But changing the technique is not enough. You also had to implement it in your performance…

After that I didn’t really think about anything else. Earlier, I used to think about many things. Like, I have to play this way to play in the national team, need to score this many runs to be in the discussions. This year I didn’t think about anything. My only thought was I will either hit or I will go down swinging. That’s all there is to cricket. That’s what the game is at its core. Your mindset and the courage with which you execute your plans, those are the main things. It’s not that complicated.

Towhid Hridoy was one of the star performers for Sylhet Strikers
Prothom Alo

Q :

You got called up to the national team on the back of your performance in the BPL. The same hard-hitting Hridoy in BPL showed up for the national team.

I didn’t want to change my playing style at all. I’m playing in the national team, who am I playing alongside, who are my opponents– I didn’t let any of those thoughts enter my mind. My first match was against England. I was trying to play in the same manner. In the first match, after I got out trying to hit Moen Ali for a six, many were saying that I didn’t need to go for a big shot. But my thinking was that I will take him on. Was it necessary or not, was it an easy shot or not– I didn’t think about these things. I just thought, an off-spinner is bowling, I have to hit him for boundaries.

Q :

Seeing you bat, it didn’t feel like you were making your debut in international cricket…

Me neither (smiles). I no longer think about the opponent when I take the field. I think it’s a very good thing. The first ball I faced in my debut match was against Jofra Archer. But I didn’t feel like I was facing Jofra Archer. I was just myself. That’s what I mean when I talk about mindset.

Q :

It didn’t take too long before you made your debut in ODIs as well. You got to bat in your ‘idol’ Mushfiqur Rahim’s no.4 position.

The team had faith in me. My List-A record is really good. I’ve also done well for the ‘A’ team in this format. I know my capabilities in ODIs. But yes, I think of myself as really lucky for the position I got an opportunity to bat at.

Q :

Did you feel an added pressure because you were batting in Mushfiq’s spot?

I didn’t think about it that much. The team had given me the freedom. That helped me a lot. And I don’t let such thoughts enter my mind.

Q :

The ODI World Cup is coming up in a few months, surely you have aspirations to be a part of the World Cup squad…

Like I said, I don’t really get these thoughts. And there are a lot of games to be played before the World Cup. Right now, I’m thinking about those matches. I will try to maintain my performances throughout this period.

*This interview appeared in the print and online edition of Prothom Alo and has been rewritten for the English edition by Ashfaq-Ul-Alam Niloy