The 'opting out' or 'rest' of Mashrafe Bin Mortaza for the last two ODIs against England has raised more questions than answers.
The most interesting part of this episode was that Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) yesterday came up with a statement that the player himself withdrew from the remainder of the ODI series as he had to be by the side of his ailing mother though chief selector Rafiqul Alam confirmed that it was a 'collective' team management decision to give him a rest.
"It was a collective decision and taken to make sure his (Mashrafe Bin Mortaza) slow and steady progress," was Rafiqul's explanation abut the omission.
The bewildering decision of giving rest has however upset the Narail Express, since it was done without consulting him. And this happens to be the reason behind his decision to withdraw from the reminder of the series as well as leave the team hotel on Monday. And there is hardly any chance that the board high-ups would be able to change the piqued cricketer's mind.
Under coach Jamie Siddons, the country's premier paceman was once dropped against South Africa for the first ODI in 2007 at home but that time it was because of his performance in the Test series. At that time it was acceptable to Mashrafe but this time the treatment he got from the team management hurt him.
The whispering was there that coach Siddons and captain Shakib Al Hasan played key roles behind the decision and Mashrafe was shocked by the way the two treated him after his return to the team. It was learnt that he was given a cold shoulder when he needed support from the team management to get back to his full rhythm after recovering from the injury.
"It's really unfortunate the way the decision about Mashrafe was taken. They either made a mistake by considering him in the team if he was not fully fit or by giving him a rest without any real cause. No one can play with a player like Mashrafe because he is an asset for the country," responded former national skipper and chief selector Faruque Ahmed, who was highly praised for his gutsy role during his tenure especially the way he handled the temperamental Dav Whatmore.
"Everybody should understand that even a half-fit Mashrafe is more effective than some of our bowlers. We can't produce a Mashrafe overnight and he has had a great contribution in our cricket and most importantly still we need his services. So it would be suicidal for our cricket if his career comes to an premature end for any wrong decision from the people concerned," he added.
"The better thing is to talk with a player before taking any decisions about him. I don't know whether the team management maintained this simple practice in this issue. And I can't understand why you give Mashrafe rest when he needs more games to get back his rhythm until or unless he asked for it," questioned Faruque.
Faruque's successor Rafiqul could play a vital role in this regard but question was raised whether he has any authority in the selection of the team or taking any decision about any individual, rather the cynics has branded him as a 'yes man' to Siddons.
Since the episode of Indian coach Mahinder Amarnath, the board has given the selectors full responsibility to stop the authoritarian role of the head coach in team selection. And as advised by BCB's media committee chairman Jalal Yunus the rule is still in place but the question was whether the former national cricketer Rafiqul has that kind of mettle to continue with the rule.