The Joy of batting: young Bangladesh player delights with impressive series against Ireland

With a surname like his you’d be inclined to think that the latest Bangladesh prodigy owes it to the game to be one of its great entertainers.

But Mamhadul Hasan Joy, who was instrumental in the country’s Emerging Players’ 4-0 win over Ireland Wolves in their one-day series, scoring a century and two fifties in the quartet of matches completed, is more likely to thank you if you call him “The Wall”.

A year after scoring the first hundred by a non-Indian in an Under 19 World Cup semi-final, which carried his team into a final – and victory – against the country the original wall Rahul Dravid coached, he has once again found some form, producing almost a one-man masterclass to defeat the tourists.

His 123 on Sunday – a maiden List A century that ensured a five-run victory for the hosts – was his highest and fastest knock of the series, coming off 135 balls with nine fours and three sixes. His other scores of 66 and 80 came off 95 and 135 deliveries respectively suggesting that he won’t win an IPL contract any time soon but he will probably be of far more value to his country, still reeling from humiliating home defeats by an under-strength West Indies, should he turn out, in the not too distant future, drop anchor at Test level.

It was a similar kind of watchful knock that helped Bangladesh reach the final of the U19 tournament in South Africa, as he spent 127 balls over the century that knocked out New Zealand.

The Kiwis had become a favoured opponent: in a five-match series against them in the South Island just three months earlier he had hit one unbeaten hundred and fallen short of another by what Ian Smith would call “the barest of margins”.

Not only that, he showed he was capable of learning from past mistakes.

“I was confident that I will be amongst the runs against New Zealand… because I had scored a hundred and made a 99 against them before,” he recalled after the six-wicket win. “Missing that hundred made me realize that losing your head can make you pay, so I was very careful against them. I tried doing it with singles this time.”

In truth, the singles gave way finally to a lofted sweep for four that got him to three figures but even with the game more or less in the bag, he chastised himself for getting out the next ball.

“The team wanted me to stay there till the end, but I ended up playing a rash shot,” Joy, who bats with a slightly open stance and, like Steve Smith, has a pick-up towards gully, said. “At that point, I just wanted to finish the game as quickly as possible, and a wrong choice of shot ended my innings. I should have taken a different shot option and relished the opportunity to stay not out while the winning runs were hit.”

Joy’s hunger and desire for runs was forged after he was largely ignored by older boys when he tried to join their games of tapeball cricket in the streets of Chandpur, a district of Chittagong.

The 20-year-old told Cricbuzz last year: “I used to play tapeball cricket from a very young age, but unfortunately didn’t get any batting due to the elders in the locality. I just wanted to show everyone I could bat.”

The son of a banker, it was an uncle whom Joy thanks for convincing his father that he could take up cricket as a career, a “totally unexpected development”.

“I’m still surprised how it turned out,” he explained.

“I was 13 when I started my journey, after my uncle requested my father to let me join BKSP [the biggest sports institute in the country]. After coming back from my uncle’s, I joined the Chandpur Clemon Cricket Academy and trained for two years to get admitted in BKSP, which I managed to do at the end of 2014.

“Although my parents were apprehensive initially, they started encouraging me later.”

Dravid once said: “Experience is not playing more matches, experience is learning from the matches you play.”

On that basis, Joy, awarded player of the series against the Wolves, 00looks set to give a great deal of, well, joy to one of the most enthusiastic fan followings in the world.