Former batter Hannan Sarker of Bangladesh spoke out about a terrifying encounter he experienced in Potchefstroom, South Africa, 22 years ago.
Currently serving as a selector for the under-19 squad, which is in South Africa to compete in the ICC U-19 World Cup starting on January 19, is the former opening batter for the national team.
Sarker was overwhelmed with memories of his spectacular batting performance in a Test match in 2002, when he stood up and absorbed the hits from the formidable South African pace attack, as the squad headed to Senwes Park in Potchefstroom.
In the first innings, the 20-year-old Sarker hit the most runs for the visitors, 65 off 86 deliveries, against players like Ntini, Shaun Pollock, Jacques Kallis, and Nantie Hayward.
“I’m back in Potchefstroom after a 22-year absence. After being struck by Makhaya Ntini’s ball in the fourth over, I received four stitches in my chin (that’s the dressing room). I stitched at my lunch break (not outside batting on 57*),” Sarker said on Facebook along with two photos: one from earlier in the day, showing Ntini pointing at Sarker’s chin, which required four stitches, and another from his most recent trip to the hospital.
Hannan Sarker poses in the Senwes Park dressing room where he had to have four stitches put in his chin after a blow from Makhaya Ntini. Image: Facebook page of Hannan Sarker
“I vividly remember trying to get away from Ntini instead of hiding beneath the bouncer during that delivery. At first, I was unaware that the ball had struck my helmet. Sarker described the event to The Daily Star over the phone from Potchefstroom today. “Later, I saw blood dripping from my chin.”
“Javed Omar bhai, the match’s twelfth man, hurriedly said at the beginning that I would need stitches, but I persisted in batting while wearing a bandage. However, I really required four stitches when I went back to the dressing room for lunch, Sarker said.
In the match, Bangladesh lost by an innings, despite the youthful opener’s valiant attempt. Sarker was bowled in both innings by Ntini.
Sarker remarked, alluding to the photo the two had taken at the time, “Although I am yet to meet Ntini this time around, I had the opportunity to meet Ntini back in 2021 during the road safety tournament when he joked over the incident.”
Though Bangladesh’s international cricket players, both seniors and kids, have gone a long way since the 2002 tour to South Africa, they were still early days.
The former opener is now aiming to reclaim the world championship that Bangladesh won in South Africa back in 2020. He recently led the youthful Tigers to victory in the U-19 Asian Cup.
In order to remind the under-19 squad members—some of whom were not even born yet—about the challenges posed by opposing bowlers and the circumstances in South Africa while batting, Sarker said that he had shared the story with them.