Mushfiq made his Test debut back in 2007 as a batsman against England at Lord's. He played his first two Tests as a batsman. In his third Test, he took over the responsibility of the team’s gloveman.
Later onwards in his 52-Test career, Mushfiq kept wickets in 47 matches. In the remaining three matches he played as a batsman due to injury.
However, heavy workload meant that the team management finally decided to offload him as a wicket-keeper.
In the recently concluded New Zealand series, Mushfiq scored a hundred and later had to keep wickets for more than 100 overs. A finger injury then hampered his natural game in the second Test.
Even in the one-off Test against India in Hyderabad, the wicketkeeper-batsmen kept wickets for almost 140 overs and made a century in the first innings.
Some costly errors during the Hyderabad Test raised questions as to whether the three roles – keeping, batting and captaining – took a heavy toll on him.
Perhaps the decision has come at the right time as Bangladesh will face hot and humid conditions in the island nation.
When queried whether he is happy with the decision of relinquishing keeping duties, Mushfiq said he is satisfied as it was made for the sake of the team.
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Mushfiq ponders while head coach Chandika Hathurusingha makes a point during a training session in Sri Lanka AFP
“It is a decision from the management. I am happy to do this for the team. I am focusing on contributing more and more for the team, compared to the past. Hopefully, I will bat on top, and deliver for the team,” Mushfiq told the media at Galle International Cricket Stadium.
“The heat here is such that it doesn’t matter if you’re keeping or fielding. It is a tough job. I have said it repeatedly that my keeping helped me understand the wicket better, which in turn helped me as a batsman. It will be a different feeling. I have to do what I am told to do, for the team. I am happy, and I will try to contribute as much as possible as a top-order batsman,” said Mushfiq.
Sri Lankan great Kumar Sangakkara gave up keeping for the sake of his batting. After that, his career flourished as he became one of the greats of modern times. When he played as a stumper-batsman, his average was 40.08 in Tests. Without the keeping responsibility however, his average jumped to a staggering 66.78.
New Zealand’s Brendon Mcculum also improved his Test career significantly after quitting wicket-keeping.
Such examples indicate that if Mushfiq concentrates more on batting rather than keeping, his performance in the Test arena will improve significantly. As a result, Bangladesh will also be benefited.
Meanwhile, Mushfiq has sweet memories of Galle. The last time he played here, he scored the only double hundred of his career. He said it’s a great memory but very much in the past now.
“It is always a nice feeling to have achieved something as an individual and team. But it is a new game, and it looks like a new Sri Lanka attack, apart from Rangana [Herath]. We have to play our best cricket to compete against them. It is very important to start well as a team,” he said.