Speculation over the future plans of Mashrafe Mortaza grew, as the Bangladesh ODI captain shot down the Bangladesh Cricket Board’s offer to organise a farewell match for him.
Mortaza, a beloved icon in Bangladesh, hasn’t played for his country since the World Cup last year – partially because of injuries and partially down to Bangladesh’s ODI schedule. While the 36-year-old had been expected to retire upon his team’s exit from the tournament, that didn’t happen, with speculation being that he and the board were planning for a farewell at home. However, when the board offered him a testimonial against Zimbabwe last September, he had refused.
This week, Mortaza, who is also an active politician, was excluded from the list of central contracts, at his own request.
BCB president Nazmul Hassan said they had accepted his decision about the contract, but were still keen to hold a grand farewell match for him if he so wished. “We want to give him a grand farewell in a way that no other player got. Now if he agrees, then it’s OK. But if he doesn’t want it, we have nothing to do,” said Hassan.
All the records broken by Mohammad Amir and Shoaib Malik in a blockbuster BPL qualifier clash.https://t.co/ChCu8e3Om7
— Wisden (@WisdenCricket) January 13, 2020
Mortaza, though, was still not keen. “Till yesterday, I was a centrally contracted cricketer with the cricket board but not anymore,” he said on 13 January after his team was knocked out of the Bangladesh Premier League. “I thank the BCB for considering to give me a proper send-off, but I don’t have much interest in it.
“I have always said that a cricketer’s entire career isn’t only about playing for the national team. I think I have the freedom to play as long as I want. We have had bigger cricketers who couldn’t retire from the field. Habibul Bashar, who always made runs in crisis situation, didn’t get to retire while still playing. I think only Sujon bhai [Khaled Mahmud] did it, but otherwise it is a rare case. I even have thought of it at times, but it is not really necessary.”
His comments, however, only added to the mixed signals coming from him about his future. While he has opted out of a central contract, he gave no indication that he would retire as ODI skipper. He showed he was still keen to take the field, turning out in the BPL on Monday with 14 stitches on his hand, but isn’t quite convinced he should be in the team.
He has questioned his place in the Bangladesh side, having taken just one wicket during the World Cup and having an underwhelming BPL, too. “As far as I am concerned, I shouldn’t be selected based on my one wicket in eight games at the World Cup,” he said last week. “If I am selected, I will give my best. But how can I say I will play for the national team after taking one wicket in eight games? Someone else in my place would have been axed much earlier.”
Bangladesh are next expected to play ODIs against Zimbabwe in February or March, when their captain’s situation might be clearer.