A weight off Mashrafe's shoulders?
Bangladesh captain Mashrafe Bin Mortaza can now cast aside all the uneasiness and move forward with his mission for the 2019 World Cup to be held in England after Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) president Nazmul Hassan yesterday buried all the questions about his chances of leading the team in the mega event.
"He will play as long as he can and there will be no question of dropping him because he is not there only as a player, he is there as a captain. And it is nearly impossible to find a captain like him in Bangladesh," said Hassan while speaking to reporters at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium in Mirpur yesterday.
With this statement, the BCB boss has apparently given in to the notion that it will be better that the decision regarding his future plans rest with Mashrafe; who many believe will not stay in the team if he feels that he has become a burden.
Since he started his third stint as captain in 2014, Mashrafe has not only been doing a wonderful job on the field, but also off it. As a bowler he has been doing his part in overcoming the shortcomings born of a long string of injuries, but he still had to wrestle with the insecurity of knowing that failure in one or two matches could bring up that uneasy question: what do you think about your future?
Questions were raised about whether the board had any new plan for the 2019 World Cup since Hassan spoke about the issue of captaincy last week. However, the BCB president claimed he had been misunderstood and added that there was no scope to drop Mashrafe.
"These questions should not arise at this time. We have more games ahead of us and until and unless we find a substitute because it affects the player. I am in regular contact with him and he has not said anything, but if I was in his place then I would have feelings about whether I would be in the team and why anyone hasn't spoken to me. Whatever I do, the players are always the first to know. I have never had any such talks with them about ODIs.
"There is nothing more to say about Mashrafe's captaincy, I have already said it before and it was clear-cut. I was asked with the example of India's MS Dhoni. As he [Dhoni] will not play the 2019 World Cup, India had changed their captain and the question was whether we have any such thoughts. I responded that the biggest example that we have those thoughts is in T20s.
"However, there is no connection to ODIs. We have not talked about Mashrafe being or not being captain in ODIs, but it is being sensationalised like Mashrafe will be dropped immediately and we will look for a new captain. There have been no such talks and there is no reason for such talks," he explained, referring to last week's comments .
He gave two reasons for why one should not raise these kinds of questions now.
"The first is that Mashrafe is not only in the team as a player. He is in the team as a captain and to fulfil particular duties, a particular role. The way he has been doing that it is impossible to find a substitute for him in Bangladesh and at the moment there is nobody who can fulfil his role," Hassan said.
"Secondly, if you look at his performances as a pacer then his performances are really, really good. At the moment, there are no thoughts, but there are always thoughts about what will happen when Shakib [Al Hasan] or when Mushfiqur [Rahim] leaves. We will always have these thoughts and we have to think about that, but the perception is that we are dropping Mashrafe today, which is a hostile environment for both him and us," he continued.
In the end, only time will tell whether Mashrafe can play without any burden or whether these questions will once again come to the fore after another series.