Can anyone ever match Mashrafe?
Mashrafe Bin Mortaza is now a personality in Bangladesh whom everyone possibly admires and adores for his unparallal contributions in inspiring the graduation of Bangladesh Cricket from a depth of despair to a level of respect.
Under his exemplary dynamic leadership, a team that was struggling for financing its feet among the elite club of world cricket has now turned into a fearsome competitor.
Bangladesh qualified for the quarter finals in ICC world cup 2015 and semi-finals in ICC Champions trophy. It won bilateral series against Pakistan, India, South Africa and Zimbabwe. It won matches against England, New Zealand and Sri Lanka.
He not only led the team to such heights he also led the bowling attack even with his heavily bandaged knees from the impacts of seven major surgeries. He is the highest wicket taker of Bangladesh in ODI and still a pace bowler whom top players take due note off.
Few may argue but Bangladesh can ill afford to lose him now as player and leader before it attains stability among the top teams of world cricket. If he remains fit, there cannot be any question anyone else leading the team in ICC world cup 2019. No one has courage, commitment and will power like Mash.
There can be preparation for grooming a long term leader to take over from Mashrafe Bin Mortaza but any talks of replacing him from ODI leadership without him expressing desire to leave is unkind and unjustified.
With shortened run up Mashrafe still continues bowling in the right channel. We talk about Mustafizur Rahman’s slow cutters troubling batsmen but over the last several matches it was Mashrafee cutters that troubled opposition more.
No one else in Bangladesh team even now who has better control than Mashrafe. Mustafiz, Taskin Ahmed, Rubel Hossain, Subashish Roy, Kamul Islam Rabbi still has lot to learn from super Mash. Ask anyone in the team especially the youngsters who inspires them most all in a chorus would say ‘Mashrafe’.
I do agree he won’t be there for good. Bangladesh cricket has to survive beyond Mashrafe era. But for that what is the preparation? Could Bangladesh find and develop any bowler, any player of Mashrafe’s quality in all these years?
Bangladesh was in desperate situation in 2014 losing matches even to Afghanistan and Hong Kong till Mashrafe Bin Mortaza took over as a captain after recovering from his routine dates with injury. How dramatically all changed? Bangladesh gloriously turned around in ICC world cup 2015.
In completely different conditions and on different wickets of Australia and New Zealand Bangladesh qualified for the first time for quarter finals. The match against India in MCG could be far more competitive if some controversial umpiring decisions did not go against Bangladesh.
Back home Bangladesh won four series on a trot and three against major oppositions like Pakistan, India and South Asia. In that process it qualified for ICC Champions trophy. Established players like Tamim Iqbal, Mushfiqur Rahim, Shakib Al Hasan and Mahmudullah Riyad find so much of comfort playing under his leadership.
Youngsters like Taskin, Mustafiz, Mehedi Hasan Miraj, Soumya Sarkar, Sabbir Rahman, Mosaddeq Hossain consider him as a role model. World noticed how players reacted to his sudden T20 retirement in Sri Lanka? Did not world cricket witness how the team body language changed in farewell match of charismatic Mashrafe Bin Mortaza from international T20 cricket?
In Champions trophy 2017 the performance of Bangladesh bowlers were pretty ordinary but Mashrafe performed steadily. We do not understand what made BCB President sate about starting the process of replacing Mashrafe from ODI leadership for 2019 World Cup? Is it a fair way BCB like to treat a champion leader?
The way Mashrafe conducts himself there is a more than even chance that he will remain fit till the World Cup. If that happens there is none in sight till now who can replace him in the team as a bowler and a captain.
Mr Papon and Mr Haturasingha like persons can come and go. It will matter little to Bangladesh cricket. But Mashrafe must remain in his position till he himself opts out. I am sure he is such a person who would not like playing if he becomes a burden in the team. Even after his retirement he must be associated with the team as a mentor for encouraging and inspiring the next generation of Bangladesh cricket.
He is a hero, a great cricketer. It must be left to him alone when he would hang up his bowling boots. After a team is selected none should impose any matter on Mashrafe without discussing with him.
A captain is the most important person in a cricket team. Mashrafe Bin Mortaza has major contributions for the present respectable position of Bangladesh in world cricket. He has instilled and inculcated self-belief.
Who else said, “Dhorey Dibaney?”