Mashrafe Mortaza is undoubtedly the best captain Bangladesh team has ever had. During his captaincy, the national team achieved several heights. This also included him establishing Bangladesh as one of the top teams in the world. They qualified for a World Cup quarter-finals and then a semi-final in the Champions Trophy. Other than this, the side also qualified for two successive Asia Cup finals. In many ways, Mortaza transformed Bangladesh cricket for good.
However, the talk of him retiring from the game has been doing rounds for some time now. Last year, it was thought that Mortaza will retire after the World Cup. But, he didn’t. Earlier this year, Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) gave him a farewell. The series against Zimbabwe was looked at as the farewell series for the former skipper. But, he announced that he would give up captaincy and try to get into the side as a player.
But, after this, the Bangladesh bowling coach Ottis Gibson said that the team management would want Mortaza to retire. He in fact said that the former captain is not in the plans of coach Russell Domingo for the 2023 World Cup. Mortaza, who led Bangladesh to 49 wins from 87 matches, has been left disappointed by this treatment. In an interview, Mortaza revealed how BCB rushed his retirement.
All of a sudden there was this rush to push me out: Mashrafe Mortaza
“Honestly speaking it seemed that there was a rush to bid me farewell and it was certainly hurting,” Mortaza told Cricbuzz. “Firstly, they had to arrange a match to bid me farewell and it was not a normal match – a normal bilateral series is something and arranging a special match in a hurry is something else. Secondly, they were prepared to spend BDT Two Crores for that match. From an ethical point of view, it is not right considering our first-class cricket players are not getting paid enough.”
Mortaza further addressed some rumours which were circulating the media. During the World Cup in 2019, he picked up only one wicket in eight matches. His poor form was cited as one of the reasons why Bangladesh failed to qualify for the next round even after beating teams like West Indies and South Africa. He expressed his sorrow on how things are being handled by the board.
“They spoke about my salary, asking why would the board pay someone without anything in return? Have I been playing cricket for 18 years thinking about money? If I thought about money, there were many opportunities for me then. I did not play cricket for money. What was worse is that they spread rumours like the Bangladesh team played nine and a half players in the World Cup. Do you feel I deserve this? Maybe they [board] wanted to give me a better farewell but you must see my side as well. There were talks about me going for the Sri Lanka tour. I would have gone to Sri Lanka if I had not been injured,” he said.
Mortaza made his debut in 2001 as an 18-year-old. Soon, he became the leader of the Bangladesh attack and has been that for years. He is undoubtedly the best pacer Bangladesh has produced ever. He has taken 270 wickets in 220 ODIs matches. In 54 T20Is, he has taken 42 wickets. He retired from T20Is a few years ago. He played his last Test match way back in 2009, before giving up the longest format.
“All of a sudden there was this rush to push me (out). All I know is that I have given my life to cricket even though I was torn apart and bleeding inside. If money was the main criteria, I could have done many things, more so when my career was troubled with so many injuries. I didn’t even go to play in ICL when I had an offer of BDT eight crores. I didn’t do that. I have played cricket by giving my life and maybe I could not become such a great player. But at least I expect some kind of respect”, Mortaza said.
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