Mashrafe bin Mortaza, the limited-over captain of the Bangladesh cricket team, has completed 15 years in his professional career since making his Test debut against Zimbabwe back in November 8, 2001 at Bangabandhu National Stadium in Dhaka.
Since his international bow, Mashrafe has witnessed many ups and downs of Bangladesh cricket. His career experienced a roller-coaster ride as well. Mashrafe got injured countless times during his career and had to undergo several major surgeries in his two knees.
But each and every single time, he came back strong on the field and managed to perform at the top level. Many people wrote him off after each injury but every time, Mashrafe proved everybody wrong and regained match fitness.
If it was anyone but Mashrafe, perhaps he would consider quitting but not the “Narail Express”. Thankfully, he did not think that way. And that is his uniqueness. Passion and love for the game are the main motto of Mashrafe.
However, it was anything but an easy ride for the inspirational leader. He bowls with bandages on both his legs and it has been a common scene in the domestic arena as well. As an all-rounder, Mashrafe did not just have to fight against other batsmen or bowlers for a place in the side but he had to overcome his injuries too.
There are so many stories about him that can be mentioned. But most importantly, it’s Mashrafe the human being and the leader who has won millions of hearts and set an example for others to follow.
Mashrafe is not the fastest bowler of the world, or the finest all-rounder in recent times. But as a cricketer and as a captain, he is surely an example to follow. That’s why hundreds of cricketers in Bangladesh, who play in the domestic arena, have categorised Mashrafe as their idol.
Mashrafe has played with a few generations in the history of Bangladesh cricket. At the beginning of his career, he played with the likes of Akram Khan, Habibul Bashar, Aminul Islam Bulbul, Hasibul Hossain Shanto and Enamul Haque, among others.
In the middle stages of his career, he played with Mohammad Ashraful, Nafees Iqbal, Aftab Ahmed, Rajin Saleh and Talha Jubair.
And lately, he played alongside Mushfiqur Rahim, Tamim Iqbal and Shakib al Hasan.
Finally, he is playing with the new generation cricketers Mustafizur Rahman, Mehedi Hasan Miraz and Mosaddek Hossain.
Most of the aforementioned players retired long ago but the the “Narail Express” is still going strong and performing well at the very top level of cricket.
Injuries might have hampered his Test career but he is still Bangladesh's best leader, be it ODIs or T20s. What's more, he is probably the greatest ever captain the Tigers have ever produced.
So, Mashrafe is not just a good cricketer, he is an inspiration, idol to the millions of cricket-crazy Bangladesh fans.
Oh captain, our captain, bring more glories for Bangladesh!