The men in red and green crashed out of the 10-nation tournament as the No 8 side in the standing, and Mashrafe’s listless bowling made a big part of the community think that the time was just right for the right-arm pacer to call it a day
Bangladesh ODI captain Mashrafe bin Mortaza’s decision to step down from the role has finally brought to an end widespread discussions which have been brewing since the Tigers’ below-par performance in the World Cup 2019 in England and Wales.
The men in red and green crashed out of the 10-nation tournament as the No 8 side in the standing, and Mashrafe’s listless bowling made a big part of the community think that the time was just right for the right-arm pacer to call it a day.
Questions over his fitness were raised, along with what he adds as a pace bowler to the team.
There were multiple occasions when the Bangladesh Cricket Board tried to discuss his plans with regards to retirement, and even arranged a special series at home to send him off, given that there were no ODIs scheduled following the series in Sri Lanka in July last year.
But all those offers were rejected by Mashrafe, and along came the three-match ODI series against Zimbabwe.
Just prior to the series, Bangladesh Cricket Board president Nazmul Hasan announced that it would be Mashrafe’s last as captain.
The big boss had cited the “road map to the 2023 World Cup” as the reason for the board to come to this decision.
The BCB supremo also said they would announce a new captain soon after the series.
"If he wants to play, he can play. I am more concerned about captaincy. When we declare another captain, then he can get into the side through his performance and fitness, it's fine. But the captaincy will be decided in a matter of months [in next BCB meeting this month]," Nazmul had said to the reporters at a press conference on February 19.
Nazmul’s statement had set the lingering issue on fire.
Every time since then, Mashrafe would face the media and answer questions about his observations and thinking on continuing as a player.
By then, it was more than enough for the most successful ODI captain of the country to take as he vented his frustration and anger at the issue.
Saturday, Mashrafe came down hard on media queries of self respect, stating that “he is not a thief and that he is just playing cricket.”
"Self respect, [what do I have] to be ashamed of? Do I steal on the ground? Am I a thief? I actually cannot relate things like 'self-respect' or 'being ashamed' with playing cricket. There are people who steal and cheat; aren't they ashamed of what they are doing? Only I have to feel ashamed if I do not get wickets in a game? Am I a thief?" Mashrafe reacted.
“I might not get wickets and then all of you [media personnel] and also my fans can criticize and talk about it. But why would I have to be ashamed of it? Am I not playing for Bangladesh? Or am I playing for any other country that I must be ashamed of my performance? If I cannot perform then they can drop me - it is that simple,” he added.
Since that eventful day, Mashrafe never appeared to be in a good mood, although he did lead the team to two consecutive wins, and in the process, the series with a game to spare.
There were even rumors as to whether he would continue as captain a bit longer – at least till Bangladesh’s tour of Ireland this May.
But as it happened, the veteran Bangladesh cricketer walked to the media center for a pre-match press conference on the eve of the third and final Zimbabwe ODI, and before any questions were even asked brought out a piece of paper and read it out, announcing his decision that rocked Bangladesh cricket down to its very core.