DHAKA: If Cricket has put Bangladesh strongly on world map Mashrafe alone has contributed a lot of it. Ignoring his major physical constraint arising from seven major surgeries on his knees and risking his physically handicapped future he has led Bangladesh Cricket to an enviable level in the shorter version of the game. Bangladesh is a potent force to reckon with it.
As a player, he remains automatic choice as premiere pace bowler despite having Mustafiz, Taskin and Rubel. None has immaculate control like Mash. His very presence in the field and in the dressing room inspires all players. A player contributing 100 percent of his commitment for the team deserves due recognition and support. Unfortunately, at the stage of last T20 he fractured his finger trying to stop a drive of New Zealand batsman which would keep him out of cricket for 6-8 weeks.
As soon as that happened responsible senior policy makers told a section of media about his presumed retirement from T20. Later the same person dismissed it mentioning it as gossip. Mashrafe is not a person in Bangladesh cricket to be talked about such irresponsibly.
To adoring Bangladeshis, Mashrafe to Bangladesh is what iconic Tendulkar was to India. He is one of the best fast bowlers ever produced. If injury did not appear as curse he could be a top all-rounder. As a captain, he has lifted Bangladesh from a rock bottom to great height. He is definitely the best captain Bangladesh has ever produced and among the top in the world. As a leader, he inspires all always. An unassuming Mashrafe is true cricketer with great humor and good ethics. Let him decide when he chooses to retire.
Bangladesh lost both ODI and T20 series comprehensively in New Zealand tour. Mashrafe played in all matches and did his best. Even in the last T20 good opportunities were created in his bowling. If top two cricketers Tamim and Shakib did not floor those, the fate of the match could be different. We all know by now Bangladesh could not exploit the opportunities they created. The team could not put together comprehensive performances and fell apart at crunch moments. Unlike many previous occasions Tamim, Shakib, Mahmudullah could not produce match winning performances. Fielding was atrocious. Catches and ground fielding were terribly poor. In fielding alone, the difference was 40-50 runs in all matches. We are also not very sure if Mashrafe was given the team he wanted or how much independent he was in setting batting order.
We know Bangladesh team management has several ifs and buts but when the team wins all these remains buried. I am sure every past captain would agree the challenges of leading rank underdogs teams in international cricket.
Bangladesh has no limited over international matches in the next two months. Let Mashrafe assess the extent of his injury, get treatment, recover and rehabilitate. To us he still has two to three years’ quality cricket in him to represent Bangladesh.
Please leave him on his own and take his own decision to retire. Hope that he fades out gloriously like a gladiator exiting the Colosseum in front of his own adoring followers.
BDST: 1605 HRS, JAN 10, 2017