Rise of the Tigers
Cricket in Chittagong
My cricket-playing days began ‘properly’ shall we say at the age of 12. This basically means that I ditched the tennis ball and moved up to the real leather cricket ball and in the process soon became acutely aware of why cricketers wear so much padding. If I were to describe my cricket prowess I would say I’m a moderately fortuitous swing bowler and sporadically stubborn number eleven bat, learning (and unlearning!) all I needed to know about the game in the picturesque English village of Cockington, South Devon. It was during this time as part time scorer, part time bowler, and full time scone eater, that my love of the beautiful game of cricket took root.
The Devon D Division West (2nd XI) title winning medal from 1999 that now sits tucked away in a box at home, and a match saving 11 not out with the bat are proud moments in an otherwise unremarkable cricket playing life thus far. Nevertheless, my enthusiasm for the game remains undiminished and my international employment in recent years has led me onto the path of some fairly random cricket encounters, which include cameo appearances for Prague Cricket Club, the National University cricket team in Butare, Rwanda, as well as almost playing against the Suriname national team in Guyana…until rain stopped play.
Here in Bangladesh I spend a great deal of my free time exploring the country armed with a camera, and for the past few weeks I have been photographing (and occasionally joining in!) local cricket matches around the city and surrounding areas. The continued growth and rise of the Bangladesh national team (or ‘The Tigers’ as they are proudly known) has reignited the public’s interest and passion for the game, and recent one day series wins against South Africa, India, and Pakistan is a key reason for this.
No longer viewed as a minor or emerging force on the international cricket stage, Bangladesh now command real respect, and the England team that recently toured here found out exactly why.
The following photos were all captured in and around Chittagong and depict the love of a sport that continues to capture the imagination of many of the 160 million proud Bangladeshis, especially young players who dream of emulating their heroes.
All images: © John Stanlake