More questions asked
Khondkar Saleque Sufi
It is not even a week that charismatic cricket captain Mashrafe Bin Mortaza announced his retirement from T20 International. He is an enigmatic cricketer, an influential personality. He has millions of followers, fans and well-wishers.
From Prime Minister to beggars in the street everyone admires and adores him and why not? Has he not carried Bangladesh team on his broad shoulders from a desperate situation to a respectable position of pride in world cricket? Has he not inspired millions of youth turning into cricket? Who can deny his catalytic influence as a friend, philosopher and guide to his playing mates?
That is why none could take the sudden and surprising announcement of retirement at all easily. Social, print and electronic media got immediately flooded with protests. His fans held human chain in his native place and in Sher-e -Bangla National stadium, Dhaka urging him to return playing T20. Media report mentioned that even PM Hasina also called him and requested him reviewing his decision.
Only these seemed surprising for the President of Bangladesh Cricket Control Board. He could not realise why the retirement of Mashrafee from T20 international cricket should provoke such an uproar.
BCB President while talking to media after returning with the team mentioned that Mashrafe has given up captaincy only of T20 team, he has not given up playing in T20 international. What a rude joke?
A player, a person like Mashrafe if representing Bangladesh cricket in any format no one can be better captain than him. Perhaps even a primary school child would agree with that.
Mashrafe was sitting beside him and was smiling. BCB president also said, BCB plans for three different captains in three formats. But he did not explain why. He also said he had long meeting with four senior players Mashrafe, Mushfiqur, Shakib and Tamim on the night before the first T20I match where among others, he also asked to make exit plans of each of them. After these, everyone understands what prompted Mashrafe taking the decision.
From the manner he announced his retirement during the toss of first T20I match of the series there were enough hints that he was being forced to it.
Being what he really is he did not blame anyone. His million fans and followers reacted in many different ways. He earned those multitude of followers by dint of total commitment, brilliance of performance and leading from the front warrior like leadership. He became the role model of young players and younger generation of Bangladesh.
Mashrafe is only 33. For any international player it is usually the time he peaks. True he risks playing with his severely bruised, battered and several times operated knees and legs. But he performed as a player and exceptional leader. No one has better brain than him as a new ball bowler, no one has better control including Taskin , Mustafiz or Rubel . Yet why he has to go?
Bangladesh is on a very difficult cricket mission this year. It has already played series in New Zealand, India and Sri Lanka. Winning matches in all three countries for any cricket team is a huge challenge. Any post matches review would tell you the overall performance was encouraging and could be better if there was no unwanted interference from all around.
Rumour and gossips goes that Mashrafe was under pressure before even flying out to join the team in Sri Lanka. He was called in a meeting by team management after arrival and asked to improve his bowling. It was enough hints that about the plans.
Mashrafe did not like the maltreatment that was being done with Mominul Haq, Rubel Hossain and Mahmudullah Riyad. He wanted Mehedi Hasan Miraz staying back for T20. He also wanted Rubel available for T20 series. Perhaps these were the issues of discontent of a syndicate inside team management.
Report goes that Mashrafe brought all these and few others which caused discontent among senior players in the team. BCB must clarify all these before the team goes to England for tri nation series and all important ICC Challengers Trophy. With so many issues the team cannot perform.
Manager of Bangladesh team informed that BCB asked Mashrafe to step down as captain of T20I team but retirement was his choice. He did not explain why? Is there anything wrong with his behaviour as a captain? If so why all his playing mates reacted so emotionally after his announcement of retirement? Did not the world witnessed a 100% committed side gave their all in batting bowling and fielding in earning a victory farewell gift for their charismatic captain?
Otherwise does Mashrafe keep late hours gambling in Cassinos like few others of team management? Surely not. He is of totally different kettle of fish. Very serious, very disciplined. It is his moral duty looking after the welfare of each of his playing mates like a true commander in a battle ground. He never cares to talk his mind out what he feels.
Many things are not going right with cricket management at the moment. Some coaching staff and some members of BCB are having joy rides, the times of their life time. The selection committee has become a virtual puppet. Two persons in team management do whatever they like under patronage of a senior policy maker.
Highly paid coaching staff stay on leave at their free sweet will in who cares attitude. For the greater interest of Cricket and Bangladesh these must be remedied.
Cricket has come to this level for sacrifice and commitment of many. Mashrafe, Mushfiqur, Shakib, Tamim, Mahmudullah and for that matter, all players deserve honest treatment. Officials, coaching staff would come and go but the players are the people who would perform taking Bangladesh to higher achievements.
Bangladesh can get far better coaching staff with money they are spending. But no Mashrafe, no Mushfiqur, no Shakib, no Tamim can be created so easily. By treating them so shabbily what message is being given to likes of Taskin, Mustafiz, Soumya, Sabbir, Mosaddek and Miraz?
The future engagements in the rest of 2017 are all very important, Champions Trophy, home series against Pakistan, away series against South Africa and home series against Australia . The contagious disease in BCB needs open heart surgery.
Khondkar Saleque Sufi is an eminent Research Fellow of Monash University, Australia, He was the former Advisor at Ministry of Mines & Petroleum of Republic of Afghanistan and Deputy General Manager of Bakhrabad Gas Systems Ltd.