There have been reports in local media that Mushfiqur Rahim, the most dependable Test batsman in the Tigers’ lineup, will be excluded from the upcoming Test series at home against Zimbabwe in February. While head coach Russell Domingo did not convey an official stance during today’s press conference at Mirpur before Tigers’ departure for Pakistan tomorrow, it could be surmised from his words that the board were inclined to stick to the same squad for the three Tests.
“I am under the impression that this is the squad for this one Test match. We will re-evaluate once we get back. You have to remember that Mushfiqur got runs in the last Test, but we also need to consider the fact that it is hard to pick a batting line-up, change it for one Test, and then change it again for the third Test. I want to give guys a run, but we also need to consider that Mushfiq was our best player in India,” Domingo said in a press conference today.
The head coach appeared to be echoing the sentiments of BCB President Nazmul Hassan this week. Chief selector Minhajul Abedin had previously said while talking to reporters that the squad named for the first Test against Pakistan was also the squad for the Zimbabwe Test, slated for February 22, and the second Test against Pakistan.
It begs the question whether Mushfiqur, who opted out of the Pakistan series citing security concerns, is being punished for opting out of the three-phase tour or whether he has to prove his mettle in the longest format despite being the most dependable batsman in the lineup. Is one of the stalwarts in the side not an automatic choice anymore for the lone Test against Zimbabwe that falls between the two Tests against Pakistan? Having sat out the T20I series in Pakistan, Mushfiqur was unavailable for the start of the Bangladesh Cricket League due to a hamstring injury.
Shakib Al Hasan could not play the India series due to his ICC ban and Tamim Iqbal had opted out of the tour due to personal reasons. However, while Tamim was allowed to return to the Test side, the matter could very well be different for Mushfiqur even if he is available for the Zimbabwe series. When the Pakistan series was still doubtful due to security concerns, Hassan had said that players had the option to not go to Pakistan.
The tone changed considerably following the T20I series whitewash in Pakistan with the BCB president later conveying his displeasure at senior cricketers opting out of tours. “When Tamim came back, we had to change opening pair [Imrul Kayes and Shadman Islam] that we used in previous series [in India]. Now Mushfiqur didn’t go [to Pakistan]. So, we have a problem with number four. If we had known some things from before, we could plan forward.
“Let me give a simple example. We have a Test coming up. No one is a more dependable batsman than Mushfiqur. Now think we take someone new for the number four position. What will that player do? Is it enough to play just one Test?” the BCB president had asked.
“We need to give that new player at least three matches. We have Zimbabwe series after this and Mushfiqur will play but then when we go to Pakistan again, we have to change. That’s a lot of change,” Nazmul had said.