When the Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) announced that Mominul Haque would be the Test skipper for the India tour in November last year, even a cricket fraternity benumbed by the shocking news of premier all-rounder Shakib Al Hasan’s ban, were left a bit surprised by the board’s decision.
It was thought that Mominul’s was a stopgap appointment during a time of crisis. However, putting an end to the speculation surrounding the Test captaincy, Mominul was retained as the skipper for the Pakistan tour. And with the board’s stated intention of maintaining stability, it can be assumed that the team management has chalked out a long-term plan with Mominul at the helm in Tests for the foreseeable future.
Bangladesh’s recent record in the longer format has been abysmal. With the unexpected yet deserved 224-run thumping by Afghanistan at home followed by two humiliating losses away to India last year, it goes without saying that an uphill task awaits the new captain.
Skipper Mominul’s recent performances have not been very inspiring. He scored 44 runs -- all of which were scored in the first Test – while leading the Tigers in the two Tests against India. Even before being named captain, Mominul’s Test performances, especially in away matches, were below-par.
It has been over two years since the left-hander last scored a fifty away from home. The 28-year-old’s willow was last raised overseas when he made 77 against South Africa in Potchefstroom in September 2017. Since then, Mominul played seven away Tests and scored at an average of 8.57 with the highest being an 80-ball 37 against India during the Indore Test.
Mominul’s average, which was close to 60 just two years ago, has now plummeted to 39.65. Since 2017, Mominul played 11 away Tests, averaging 15.22, while he averaged 48.25 playing eight at home during that period. His struggle while playing on typical fast and bouncy pitches away is clear from the gulf in his home and away averages.
The 28-year-old now needs to realise that performing only at home will not help the Tigers. And now that he has been entrusted with the responsibility of steering the team to a better position, his performances, be it home or away, would be put under the microscope even more than when he was just another regular player. And with Mushfiqur Rahim opting out of the Pakistan tour and Shakib unavailable, Mominul’s performance would be of paramount importance.
Because, no matter how well the other 10 players are performing, it is the skipper’s contribution that inspires the team as they know the man at the helm is firing. After Bangladesh’s eighth-place finish in the World Cup last summer, it was skipper Mashrafe Bin Mortaza’s underwhelming campaign that was most scrutinised.
So it is time for Mominul, who said that he was monitoring performances of other national players during the first round of the Bangladesh Cricket League, to come up with inspiring performances, especially away from home and lift the squad from a dire situation in Tests.
* Mominul Haque scored six of his eight Test centuries at the Zahur Ahmed Chowdhury Stadium in Chattogram. The two other Test centuries were also at home, at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium in Mirpur.
* It has been more than two years since Mominul last scored a Test fifty away from home.
* He played 22 Tests at home and scored 1992 runs at an average of 55.33.
* The left-hander featured in 16 away Tests for Bangladesh and scored 665 runs, averaging just 21.45.
* Mominul’s highest away Test score remains his 150-ball 77 against South Africa in Potchefstroom in 2017. Since then he has averaged 8.57 in seven away Tests.