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Last Updated: Monday, 16 May, 2005, 11:17 GMT 12:17 UK
Young star seeks unique ambition
By Oliver Brett

Maruf Hassan Chowdhury, aged 15, has a straightforward ambition that many talented teenage cricketers possess - he wants to play cricket for England.

Maruf Hassan Chowdhury
I would like to be a paceman when I am older, bowl as fast as Brett Lee
Maruf Hassan Chowdhury

What makes his situation unique, however, is that if he realises his potential to the full, he would be the first Bangladesh-born player to wear the crown and three lions.

Maruf was still living in the town of his birth, Chittagong, until just over a year ago.

Having now settled in East London, he is a pupil at St Paul's Way School, a comprehensive where 90% of the pupils are of Bangladeshi origin.

Maruf is clearly one of the stars at St Paul's Way.

Middlesex's academy snapped him up after a single trial, for instance, and have told him he can go with them on a tour of Jersey with their under-16 squad in August.

He can also look forward to a possible London Schools tour of Sri Lanka in December.

But perhaps what is most remarkable about Maruf is that he only started playing organised cricket at all at the age of 12.

"My father got me a place on the Chittagong academy and I played a match for the district under-13 side against Dhaka," he told BBC Sport.

"I bowl right-arm medium fast and I got four wickets and then they put me in the national under-13 development squad.

"At that time I was batting at number seven because I was just starting my cricket but now I bat three and open the bowling.

"I would like to be a paceman when I am older, bowl as fast as Brett Lee."

Place both fingers either side of the seam with your thumb behind the seam

Lee is not one of the two cricketers who Maruf cites as a role model, however.

"My favourite players are Andrew Flintoff - he's so great to watch - and Jacques Kallis, I like his batting style."

Maruf moved effortlessly up the various under-age squads in Bangladesh and performed well in the under-17 tournament at home against India and Sri Lanka.

Around the same time, he was in Dhaka to watch Nafis Iqbal score a century against England in the Under-19 World Cup.

He counts both Nafis and Aftab Ahmed - who he was at school with in Chittagong - among his friends.

But while they have upgraded to the full national side who are embarking on their first Test tour of England, Maruf has come to try his luck in England instead.

"I am going to be living in London now because all my family are here, including uncles and aunts," he said.

"I miss the cricket back home and my friends but I'm still in touch with some of them.

Jacques Kallis
South Africa's Jacques Kallis is a role model for young Maruf

"Hopefully when the Bangladesh players are in England I can go and do some practice with them.

"I have met the coach, Dav Whatmore, before - and I will try to talk to him when he is over here with the team."

Life is not all about cricket, though.

His parents, though delighted about his cricket success, have urged him to work hard too.

"I will try to qualify as an architect or an engineer," said Maruf.

"I also play keyboards, guitar and drums" - a teacher says he spends most of his lunch hours in the school music room.

But however good he is at music, it surely cannot challenge his cricketing prowess.

Aged 14, and after just a few weeks in England, Maruf hit 153 in a club match for Walthamstow against Chingford.

Remember, you read about him here first.

  • For a week from 23 May, the BBC will broadcast various radio programmes live from St Paul's Way School to coincide with the Lord's Test match between England and Bangladesh.



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