Veteran cricket coach, journalist and author Jalal Ahmed Chowdhury breathed his last on Tuesday at a Dhaka hospital. He was 74.
His demise cast a pall of gloom over the country’s sports arena and among cricket players, writers and commentators in particular. The cricket fraternity said a tearful farewell to him.
Jalal had been suffering from lung infection and respiratory problems. He was admitted to the hospital in early September. After feeling slightly better he returned home, but on the night of September 14, he was brought to the hospital again and admitted to the ICU.
Since his condition kept deteriorating over time, he was put in ventilation. After more than a couple of days in ventilation, Jalal breathed his last on Tuesday morning.
Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) expressed profound sadness on his death addressing him as “former National Team coach”, “cricket analyst”, “cricketer” and “eminent sportswriter”.
During the mid-1960s, Jalal started his cricket career in the Dhaka League as an opening batsman and wicketkeeper for the Udity Club.
He later played for the Young Pegasus, Town Club and Dhanmondi Club and represented Bangladesh Railway in the National Championship competition. He was a member of the first Bangladesh side in post-independence Bangladesh (Tour of MCC in 1977).
“It’s difficult to say goodbye to whom you started your cricketing life with,” Mashrafe Bin Mortaza, Bangladesh’s former captain said on his social media handle.
“Your calmness in the dressing room, your orders to do something, playing under your coaching— everything is now just memory. Who saw your contribution to Bangladesh cricket, will remember you forever. May Allah grants you Jannah,” he added.
Bangladesh’s Test captain Mominul Haque also paid homage to his “favourite coach”, and asked to pray for his place in heaven.
Many senior and young sports journalists also paid homage to the deceased. Arifur Rahman Babu, a veteran journalist, said that Jalal Ahmed was “a great source of inspiration” for the sportswriters in Bangladesh.
“He was a father figure for all of us, he was a guardian, he was an advisor, a well-wisher. I was so close to him. We will obviously miss him forever,” Arifur, who is a special correspondent at JagoNews24, wrote on his social media handle.
Ariful Islam Roney, another journalist, addressed Jalal Ahmed as ambidextrous. He wrote on his social media handle: “Jalal bhai was ambidextrous. He played many roles in his life. But to me, he had always been a true cricket-lover.”
Among his many roles, Jalal Ahmed was a general secretary of the Bangladesh Sports Journalist Association (BSJA). He was the chief election commissioner in the last election of BSJA.
Jalal received his diploma in cricket coaching from the National Institute of Sports in Patiala, India in 1979 and subsequently coached prominent Dhaka League teams Abahani, Mohammedan, Victoria, Shadharan Bima, Azad Sporting, PWD, Dhanmondi Club and Kalabagan.
In his distinguished coaching career, Jalal had been associated with the Bangladesh national cricket team on a number of occasions. He was one of the coaches of the Bangladesh 1979 and 1997 ICC Trophy squads. He was the head coach of Bangladesh in the ICC U19 World Cup in 2002.
Jalal was one of the rare journalists in Bangladesh, who was fluent both in Bangla and English writing. He worked at the New Nation newspaper for more than a decade. He wrote for almost all main national Bangla dailies published from Dhaka.
He had also served the BCB as a member of its different standing committees which include Game Development, Cricket Operations and the Umpires Committee.
Minister of the Ministry of Youth & Sports - Bangladesh, Zahid Ahsan Russel, also paid homage to Jalal Ahmed. In his condolence message, Zahid Ahsan said: “The death of Jalal Ahmed came as an irreplaceable damage for Bangladesh's sports arena.”