The enigmatic and charismatic cricket hero of Bangladesh Mashrafee Bin Murtaza (Kausheek) Will toss the coin for the last time for Bangaldesh today. He was all emotion announcing this yesterday at a media conference in Sylhet Cricket Stadium. Bangladesh appears today for the third and the last match of the three matches ODI series against Zimbabwe .Team tigers is sitting pretty at 2-0 having won the first two matches and looking good for achieving yet another series white wash. As Captain Mashrafee has already featured in 49 matches which Bangladesh won.
A win today will be his 50. As Captain he has already taken 100 wickets. Talking about glory and success “Narail Express “stands out as one and only in the history of Bangladesh cricket. A player with badly bruised and battered pair of knees for seven major surgeries Mashrafee is unique in many aspects. Under his dynamic and exceptional leadership Bangladesh has been glorified with success in international cricket. He has announced his decision at a time when Bangladesh cricket is going through a period of transition. After the CWC 2019 in England and Wales where his own performance was not at his best Bangladesh cricket was looking down the barrel having lost most matches in all formats. He did not play test for a long while and also made sudden announcement for retirement from T20 cricket few years back in Sri Lanka .The other cricket hero Shakib Al Hasan who was most likely taking over from him is now serving a years ICC ban and is not available till End October. In such a critical time Mashrafee announcement is definitely going to hurt Bangladesh cricket though he also announced his availability for continuing as player in the team.
It is true that no one remains indispensible for anything for ever. Mashrafee for his unique performance on and off the field created such a charisma that is bound to create a deep hole in the morale of the team tigers. BCB may choose a new captain to replace him. But what will be the motivation for the new captain knowing well that he may not remain the captain when Shakib returns. Bangladesh has few ODI matches against major opposition till Shakib returns.
If anyone asks about his fitness Mashrafee endured handicap almost all through the last decade. Many players have hanged up his boots after one or two surgeries but Narail Express kept running for Bangladesh with the impacts of seven major surgeries. Who else could say,” Freedom Fighters are real heroes not the cricketers. Freedom fighters at the cost of their lives brought an independent country. Cricket players are mere entertainers.” Injured freedom fighters were his motivation while running in to bowl.
Born in a remote village of Narail on the bank of Chitra River Mashrafee retained his simplicity and honesty. “I love to take huge challenge all the time. There is no meaning in leading a life when everything comes automatically. I fancy challenge and winning against all challenges.” That is what he did in his checkered career taking Bangladesh from a ordinary level to a competitive level in international cricket. Under his leadership Bangladesh has own bilateral cricket series against Pakistan, India , New Zealand , Zimbabwe , West Indies , South Africa and also won ODI matches against England , Scotland, Ireland and Afghanistan.
Players would come and players would go. But none would come like Mashrafee who earned respect from all players he played with all opposition he played against. Even with his battered knees he has the greatest of control when struggles to bowl each delivery. When he appeared as young prodigy he could bowl at 140 but gradually adjusted his pace but improved his length and line all the time. Even now young pacers like Taskin or Mustafiz or for that matter no one in Bangladesh can perform consistently. Bangladesh is going loose Mashrafee as captain after the match today.
There was no reason responsible person of BCB talking too much indirectly and directly pressurizing him for early decision. There was no such a hurry for finding a cpatin for ODI for World Cup 2023 right now. Shakib would be the obvious choice after about 8 months. Till then Mashrafee could continue. BCB has created mental pressure unnecessarily on Mushfique and Mahmudullah also. It will be a luxury resting an automatic choice Mushfique from ODI team today in the lame excuse of the loan match against Pakistan in Pakistan. There was no necessity of resting Mahmudullah for the test against Zimbabwe. People talked a bit too much about Tamim also. All there have silenced their critics with strong performance. Wonder why all BCB decisions and discussions have to come to media? It is players after all whose performance matters. BCB definitely does not act professionally.
If BCB thought Mashrafee was not fit enough why they did not have the courage to rest him after three matches of last CWC 2019 when he was struggling a bit? They played with his emotion and their too many talks pushed Mashrafee to the decision whether he agrees or not. Off course we could read from his tone that BCB media talks influenced the decision. It was far more appropriate him continuing as captain till the return of Shakib to guide and settle the fringe players like NazmulShanto, Naim ,Afiff . Even Soumya ,Mustafiz are not permanent features yet , Saifuddin and Taskin required his parental guidance.
He is elected Member of The Parliament. He has already initiated many major infrastructure development activities in his constituency. He has not taken red passport or any major entitlement like tax free expensive car or government apartment. He remains the plain and simple as “ Kaushik.”
I hope Mashrafee also realizes that Bangladesh needs emergence of some match winning pace bowlers who in his absence can shoulder the responsibility. Let his continue as mentor of all new cricketers. Let him develop a dynamic cricket academy in Bangladesh for talent hunting and nourishing. Let his legacy go on for ever.
Anyway Tiger Fans and cricket community stand up and admire the hero when he comes out for his last toss today. It may be his swansong you never know.
BDST: 1401 HRS, MAR 06, 2020