Dust has accumulated in the memory of Parveen Nachima Nahar. But how to forget that memory! Looking back 39 years, he said, ‘But we have played in Eden before the boys of Bangladesh. We were thrilled to be in Eden that day. ‘
Thrilled Monwar Anis Khan too. She remembers the happy days of the first three-month girls’ cricket camp before the March 1983 Eden trip.
Monwar Anis said of that memory, ‘At the end of the camp in Dhaka, two groups of girls were formed. We play practice matches. At the end of the camp we used to practice indoors in a group Abahani. Coach Syed Altaf Hossain used to train his brother’s boys as well as Abahani girls.
Officers would watch the practice and tell the girls, ‘You keep practicing. We will take you to Calcutta.
Arrangements were made for a friendly match by contacting the West Bengal women’s cricket team. That became history. This is the first match of the Bengal women cricketers with a foreign team and also the first foreign tour.
But the Bengali girls did not have much experience before leaving. Here are a few practice matches with the boys team in Dhaka. Then came that Mahendrakshan. The girls of Abahani Sports Club went on an exciting journey by road via Jessore-Benapole.
The friendly cricket match between the two Bengali girls was played on March 24, 1983 at Eden, the paradise of cricket. In the 30-over match, West Bengal Women’s Cricket Association President XI scored 143 runs for 3 wickets. Abahani’s innings stopped at 6 for 6. Shaheen scored maximum 22 runs in the match which was lost by 8 runs.
Captain Musarat Kabir Ivy scored 15 runs. Shaheen Akhter Lubna 6 (currently living in Canada), Durdana Nitu 6, Nargis Akhter (currently living in Australia) 5. The match was also played by Afsana Akhter (retired from Rural Electrification Board), Arundhati, Parveen Nasima Nahar Putul, Dolly Cruz and others. Saba Panni (living abroad) was the twelfth player. (Source: Fortnightly Sports World, April, 1983)
The coach was Naeem Firoz, elder brother of Abahani officer Nazma Shamim. The coach was not unhappy even though the team lost. Because, according to him, the girls of Bengal had a lot to learn from that visit. In a report published in the fortnightly sports after returning from West Bengal, he said, “Our weakness during the tour was in bowling and fielding. If we could look at this, our game would be better. ‘
In the ten years prior to that tour, the West Bengal team had won the Indian National Championship eight times and the runners-up once. Abahani rate was very normal. The journey of Abahani women’s cricket team did not last a year then. At the beginning, 50855 girls came to the camp due to the efforts of Abahani officer Nazma Shamim. In the end, 20-22 people survived.
Nazma Shamim then said, no one came forward to help this team. Basically, he did it all alone. At the beginning of the camp, with the help of the then chairman of the National Board of Control for Sports (NSCB), the cricket board provided some equipment to the girls, with which they had to continue practicing. If there were two or four women’s cricket teams, the quality of the team could be verified. Even then the girls dared to go to Calcutta with little experience.
Musarat Kabir Ivy, the proud captain of Abahani on his historic tour, is still in awe today, ‘that was a great memory. There was something special about me. Because, I was the captain. I will never forget that day. I tossed with West Bengal team captain Keya Roy. We also exchanged memorabilia.
He also said that they were preparing for the tour before leaving for Kolkata. I play on their field with Lalmatia Club. We have played in Abahani field. We went to Narayanganj and played. ‘
It was the first foreign tour of almost all the girls. After taking Afsana Akhtar, one of the members of that tour, back to the old days, she too said, ‘We have very little experience of playing cricket then. Going out to play for the first time in his life was a thrilling affair. But people in Kolkata watching our game said, “They are playing so well in such a short time. Do not stop the practice of the game.
That didn’t happen anymore. After becoming the president of BCB, Saber Hossain Chowdhury tried to bring back girls cricket in the mid-nineties. At that time BCB was thinking of forming a girls cricket committee. Finally, in 2004, the BCB Women’s Cricket Committee was formed. Monwar Anis Minu was the head of that committee of BCB in 2006-07.
Bangladesh girls have come a long way in cricket today. Salma-Rumanara won the Asia Cup T20. Now he is also playing in World Cup cricket. But in those eighties it was unthinkable that Bengali girls would go so far in cricket. The girls of the eighties will surely get the credit for making the start.
Afsana, who retired in 2017 after 36 years of service in the Rural Electrification Board, has spent a lot of time in her life and now thinks of the old days. He brought back the pictures of Eden tour and playing cricket in Dhaka. They used to have a lot of fun on the playground.
Afsana was saying that his debut on the playing field was in 1986. He used to take leave from office then. Returning to the old days, this chirkumari said, ‘I don’t remember Salta very well. I studied at Siddheswari Government College. I used to play cricket and hockey then Motijheel Central Government College Athlete Photo Apa, Anu, Former Fastest Woman Cameron Nesha Lipi … They also used to study in that school. I also study there. I started playing hockey. Then I went to cricket. And courtesy of cricket, Eden tour became one of the best memories of life.
Another player of that historic match, Kamar Afroz Lovely, took a master’s degree in botany from Dhaka University. He is the head of the Department of Botany at Dhaka College. The memory of that match in Eden will never be forgotten. Puppets, Dolly Apa, Afsana … we all had a lot of fun together. In fact, there was a different environment then. We were so sincere that we would come to the field and become a family. ‘
A new chapter in women’s sports in Bangladesh was written 39 years ago courtesy of this family. Girls start to move forward in cricket.