In the early spring of 2002, Surjo Tarun was a Premier League club in a hurry. They were desperately looking for young players and in their search, the officials stumbled upon a skinny lad who practiced at the Dhanmondi Cricket Stadium.
Elias Sunny was already popular in the age-group competitions and almost everyone in the locality knew of his exploits in taped-tennis cricket. In the 2001-02 season, he made his debut for the mid-table club against Mohammedan Sporting Club at the Bangabandhu National Stadium. After a wicket-less spell of left-arm spin, Sunny was caught and bowled by Hashan Tillekaratne, the former Sri Lanka skipper who bowled off-spin very occasionally, for a duck.
Sunny has come a long way since that ill-fated debut more than nine years ago as his inclusion in the Twenty20 side against West Indies suggests.
“I started playing when I was 14 in the Discovery academy nets. Once I made my Premier League debut, I never looked back,” said Sunny.
“Making it to the Bangladesh team is huge. I find it hard to express my feelings but I know it is also important that my focus is on regaining the spot,” he added.
In the last three years, it has been a series of good performances that landed him the spot. Though he may yet find himself among the reserves, Sunny believes the recognition is inspirational enough to fight his way into the playing XI. “I don’t know if I will play but I will give my all if I’m picked,” he said.
Sunny has admitted that regardless of his performance in the Premier League, National Cricket League or even other competitions at home, it was the tour of South Africa for Bangladesh A earlier this year that shaped his mind about the rigours of top-level cricket.
“In South Africa, I bowled well but more than that, I saw how international cricket is played. I can say that I got 70% of how the game is played at the top-level and as a result, I think that tour was vital for my growth as a player,” said Sunny.
During the BCB Cup final, he bowled a diligent 8-over spell that yielded just 13 runs, setting up the rest of the Bangladesh A bowlers for a final flourish. “It was also in front of a big crowd,” he reminded with a smile.
For years, Sunny, aged 25 now, was the marquee name for Discovery, a cricket academy where hoards of children from the age of five are trained. The Hazaribagh lad has said privately that he often found it hard practicing in the off-season for the lack of opportunity at the top, despite performing in the Premier League regularly.
But he has finally been offered his chance, and if his resilience in bouncing back from that debut is anything to go by, he might find himself among those he has aspired to be for the past decade.
-With The Daily Star input