With an uncertain career span and an overtly-taxing workload in times of break-neck batting feats, the decision to pick up the red cherry and vow to be a fast bowler is not easy. As cricket frequently changes attire, adhering to the demands of the changing times, the rigours of being a fast bowler have been on the ascendancy. So, what prompts a youngster to walk down this rocky road and dabble with negligible margin of error?

       A pacer from the East of the Brahmaputra, who steered clear of the preferred art in those parts - slow left-arm bowling - recalled his initiation with leather ball cricket. January 10, 2007, he says, was the first time he set foot on the famed Abohani ground of Dhaka, irking his disciplinarian father (Mr. Abdul Rashid) who preferred academic excellence to exploits on the field, for his ward. Bangladesh's Taskin Ahmed was all of 12 when he broke a 'strict curfew' at home and paid the price for it. Interestingly, Taskin chuckles as he lays out the day's events that culminated in a back-breaking exercise.  

"Normally in the afternoon I was not allowed to go out of the house. I used to go to school by 6 AM and return by 12 noon. My father told me I was allowed to go out of the house only by 5 PM and had to be back by 7 PM. One day I went to the ground at 2 PM. So he was angry and broke the bat on my back. He'd bought me that bat only three days earlier," he says, clearly impressed by his own strength.

Three days later, a close-friend Kayyum tried to convince Taskin to break the curfew again.
KayyumLet's go to Abohani ground and start playing cricket with cricket ball and not tennis ball.
TaskinNo, no, not possible to go there now. My father broke my bat on me just three days ago.
KayyumWhy? Let's go. You have a good action also. You can get selected.
TaskinNo, in some days my exams will start. I won't be able to come.
Taskin was mindful of the repercussions but approached his father for permission anyway, with a devious plan. 
"Normally when my father is in a good mood, when he is smiling, I ask any questions or wishes. On that day, my father was watching TV and smiling, so I went to him and asked. 'Baba, Kayum was telling me about an Under-12 tournament. I want to go there'. He was quite for a bit but then said 'Ok you can go, but not always. Just for a couple of days'. At that time my school was off for a few days." And thus, began Taskin's journey.The impish smile resurfaces as the conversation veers towards his tall frame. While height is an obvious advantage to a budding fast bowler, it nearly cost Taskin his first big break. "When the coaches watched my bowling, they said I can't play Under-12. My friends defended me but the coaches couldn't believe that I was under-12 because of my height. I was tall even back then. They did a medical test and I was selected in the Dhaka Metropolis Under-12 side."His father has been the constant in Taskin's young, fledgling career. 

On the evening of 16th September, hours after Taskin limped off from the 'A' tour of India after bowling just five overs, his concerned father was on the phone, counseling him and inquiring about his travel plans. It had taken Mr. Rashid some time to come to terms with his 'unusually naughty' son's career choice - he would schedule surprise trips to the ground to check if his son was really out playing. The turning point came during an interaction with the under-12 coach on one such trip, who foresaw a bright cricketing future for his son. Thereon, it wasn't a one-man show.At 15, Taskin was thrown into the ring with 599 other aspiring fast bowlers from all over Bangladesh for the trials to a pace bowling foundation camp. Only 20 graduated to the next level, with Taskin emerging as the youngest and the quickest of the lot after two months of strenuous training. trained and did everything with the big fellas, Taskin recalls with a sense of pride.

Taaza Vaartha

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