There are those whose love knows no bounds and their devotion and fidelity to their passion attracts a deep reservoir of respect, gratitude and ultimately sporting conduct. ASM Faruque, the former cricketer and BCB director, who breathed his last yesterday following cardiac arrest, belonged to that latter group of rare personality. He remains another unsung hero of this country, which has come up in leaps and bounds through the grit and sacrifice of many.
"I will always remember him in that way -- a gentleman. I didn't see him play but later, due to my work as a journalist, I got to know him as an organiser," Utpal Shuvro, one of the most respected sports journalists in the country, said while talking about Faruque.
"The thing is, there is a thin line between being a cricket player and being a 'cricketer'. Many times, we see something and exclaim 'it's not cricket-like' and although it might sound silly in this age of IPL, the expression also suggests that cricket is also a philosophy of a way of being -- he embodied all those things. That's what we understand as being a 'cricketer'. The way he talked and conducted himself and how he was fully in love with the game always amazed me. Bangladesh's cricket was all he revelled in and he did a lot for cricket. We have many unsung heroes, and he was one of them.
"When he was Bangladesh's manager in 1982, one of his friends from England had asked what he could do for Faruque bhai. He asked nothing for himself but requested that arrangements be made so two players from Bangladesh have the opportunity to play in England's local cricket each year. That was what he was like," Utpal Shuvro concluded.
Faruque had himself arranged for the U-19 national team's tour to England in 1989. The tour included eight players who went on to feature for the Bangladesh Test side. Three of them -- Naimur Rahman Durjoy, Khaled Mahmud and Habibul Bashar -- went on to become national team captains.
"He was our first manager and it was the first tour in all our lives," Bashar recalled. "I don't think any of us even stepped out of the country before that. It was certainly my first. He was like a father figure to us."
"We used to fear him during that tour but behind that was the immense respect we had for him. He was the right guide for us and what we learned on that tour will always stay with us. He would never compromise on his ideals. He was never shy of setting us straight. His discipline and passion were exemplary. In recent times, we used to talk a lot. We were making plans to each personally write about our tour from '89. Even the last time we talked, he told me to stay safe," the former captain said.
"You can gauge from the reaction of people who have met him or had a friendly exchange with him. Only a natural sportsperson can do that because not everyone can mix with people that way. He had a huge career and his sense of belonging can be understood from his devotion to Shantinagar Club and Mohammedan," renowned cricket writer and coach Jalal Ahmed Chowdhury said.
"Team mates or opponents, everyone used to enjoy his company."
Faruque may have left but the bonds that he forged and the passion he communicated and indeed spread, will live on.