‘Bulbul, we got the Test status’
On this day, 20 years ago, Bangladesh achieved a new milestone, a new dawn in the nation's cricketing history after being recognized by the International Cricket Council (ICC) as the 10th Test-playing nation. Bangladesh had already announced its prominence in international cricket when the Tigers won the ICC Trophy -- the first major trophy for the country -- by beating Kenya in 1997. After that, Bangladesh's triumph over Pakistan in their maiden World Cup campaign in 1999 had just made their path to being a Test-playing nation a bit smoother.
But for Bangladesh to get the Test status, it would require a lot more than just winning matches. A country that was still lacking the proper cricketing infrastructures, required political diplomacy and an audacious vision from the BCB's then-president Saber Hossain Chowdhury for achieving the most awaited Test status.
Aminul Islam, Bangladesh's captain back then, was eagerly waiting for the official decision from the ICC outside the Lords that day. Aminul reminisced about the day fondly while in a conversation with The Daily Star.
"I remember that day when we got the Test status. I used to play for a club in England back then. I learned that Saber bhai and [then BCB general secretary] Syed Ashraful [Haque] came to England on 24 or 25th of June. I contacted them later and started off for Lords on June 26. I remember it was about 11 or 12 in the afternoon and I was standing outside the meeting room at Lords. Ashraful bhai, in teary eyes, came to me and hugged me as he said, 'Bulbul, we were unanimously voted for the Test status. We got it.' Saber bhai joined us later and we three celebrated vigorously," reminisced Aminul.
Aminul explained the atmosphere of the press conference where the official announcement came later that day.
"Ashraful bhai and Saber bhai had asked me to join them in the press conference in the evening that day. The press conference, which was attended by many high ups like [then ICC chief] Malcolm Gray and also a number of ICC officials, was held in the nursery ground outside The Lords. We three felt ecstatic as we heard the Test status being announced. Some of us were even reduced to tears. It feels really good that I can still talk about that day proudly and It feels really great that I was the captain back then," said Aminul.
Aminul, who was the first Test centurion for Bangladesh, also mentioned how he used to keep reminding the world that Bangladesh was ready for Test status even long before being recognized.
"Another thing is that I used to keep saying in every press conference after the 1999 World Cup that Bangladesh is ready to play Test cricket. It was a big achievement that we got the Test status after having talked about it repeatedly. It was also a great achievement for the people of the nation. I don't know when Test cricket will come to an end but I will definitely remember the day we got the recognition as a Test-playing nation," concluded Aminul.