For cricket followers, Mashrafe Bin Mortaza is a name associated mostly with his exploits on the field of cricket over the last 18 years and as captain of Bangladesh over the last five. Since December 2018, he has assumed an identity separate from the field of cricket and yesterday, an Indian journalist drew attention to his status as a member of parliament after being elected from Narail in the 2018 general elections.
Up to that point in Bangladesh’s pre-match press conference ahead of today’s must-win World Cup match against India in Birmingham, the questions and Mashrafe’s serious answers revolved around the match. He however cracked a nervous smile when he was asked about another form of leadership.
“Are we looking at the next Prime Minister in the next 10, 15 years?”
Mashafe, who was understandably not ready for such an inquiry, said ‘surely not’ after a nervous few moments, where he collected himself presumably because it was the last question he would have expected ahead of a game that will make or break Bangladesh’s World Cup campaign.
Mashrafe won his election campaign in Narail in December 2018. He has been one cricketer who is universally loved in Bangladesh. Nearing the end of his playing career, his election may divide his popularity along political lines. His response may have been in recognition of that possibility.
A cricketer becoming prime minister has now become a possibility after former Pakistan captain Imran Khan was elected as the head of government in July 2018.