Right-arm pacer Mashrafe bin Mortaza rocked the cricket fraternity with his sudden decision to step down as Bangladesh ODI captain. As it is, Friday’s third and final ODI between Bangladesh and Zimbabwe would be Mashrafe’s last as Tigers ODI skipper. This is the final chapter of a long saga that started following his below-par performance as a captain and player, and it was only made more interesting when Bangladesh Cricket Board president Nazmul Hasan set the alarm bells ringing by saying the three-match ODI series against Zimbabwe would be his last assignment as the leader of the side. Below are excerpts from Mashrafe’s 35-minute long press conference at Sylhet International Cricket Stadium Thursday.
Has this decision come from you or the board?
I have taken the decision.
Would you like to mention a name as your successor?
It is tough to name someone. It is for the BCB to decide but I believe it should be among the seniors that we now have. Shakib [al Hasan] is not available. I am not sure the way forward and what will happen after Shakib returns. We will need to see first if the process starts from now but I am sure the three we have now [Tamim Iqbal, Mushfiqur Rahim, Mahmudullah] are capable of leading the team. I hope the best one will be given the charge.
How emotional was this decision for you?
See I never see myself leading the team to be very important. I was rather proud that I am representing the country. Captaincy was given to me by the board and I have tried my best. Sometimes I got result and sometimes I did not. But I had to come to a decision. We have 2023 World Cup ahead and everyone was in discussions to prepare for that. I think it is right time for the next captain to come and for him to have his team ready starting now. But I will hope that they will stick to the plan that has been set now. This captain should remain till 2023.
Couple of days ago you had said you are still thinking. How did you come to this decision all sudden?
To be honest I did not think much about it. Everyone is looking to have a new captain for the 2023 World Cup so I thought of thinking about it, albeit not much, and came to the decision. To be honest it was this morning that I thought it is enough. But like I said the discussions which are happening will even make you think. It is a normal process, but I hope the discussion and the plan remains as discussed. The next captain should remain till 2023. It should not happen that one year ahead of the World Cup the next captain is changed, citing that he is not being able to manage the team, because it is a very usual thing in Bangladesh. I believe I have taken the decision and I hope those who will think of the next captain will also do the job professionally. The next captain should be given enough time and he should be in the plans for 2023.
How was your journey from World Cup 2019 onwards?
It was a challenge for me to be honest, doesn’t matter which place I was in, the challenge would start the moment I would wake up in the morning. I had personally taken it up as a challenge. But I couldn’t accept backbiting and it should not be an option. One can go through a tough time, and there can be tough times.
The moment that has hurt you the most while you were captain?
Most hurting was when we lost by one run against India [in the World T20I in 2016]. That night was, not only for me, most ugly for the whole team. We all were sitting in the corridor of the hotel. That was I think a very sad part as captain looking at them. And then obviously many challenging periods have come. The World Cup, we were in the competition till one certain time, but it was also tough at the end. Whoever is the captain, he tries to win. If that does not happen…any match that Bangladesh lose - is a tough time for Bangladesh. Individually I think every defeat was tough for me.
What is your plan from here on?
Whatever I am today is for cricket. I would have been in fishing business if I was not a cricketer, fishing is my family business. My plan from here on will of course mostly involve cricket. I will have to work for my jurisdiction [as a Member of Parliament] but I will not back off from cricket. It is in my blood. I will be there for cricket and cricketers for any kind of help and will try to come as a source of support in the best way possible.
How satisfied are you at being able to leave an impact? Are you upset about anything?
It is not right to find such things [being upset] all the time. I have always said I never had anger or was upset on anyone. Then again it is not that these things doesn’t exist. But there is nothing like this at this point. I was given charge. I made an announcement in front of you all. I had to come this far with both good and bad experience. I was told when I did not do the right thing, that I will need to do this or that in the next game. If there was anything I did not like I had shared with them. So it was a mix of a journey that I had.
You must have had a target when you started as a captain?
No one in the world I think can say if you have achieved your target when leaving. I cannot speak of the achievements. But people can say the things I did not do right having their eyes closed. I actually don’t know my achievements and failures. But when I was given the charge as a captain I knew the pressure, expectation and emotion it involved, the whole nation looked up to you. I always had that responsibility and it was the most important thing for me. I can say I have tried to give my best for that person who used to sit in front of the television with expectation.
What is that one thing you are satisfied of the most?
Of course there are many occasions which I will remember both as a captain and as a player. But it is a different chapter since the day I was named captain. There are bad memories too which we [the players] faced as a team. I always got the support from the players, the coaches so it is difficult to mention that one occasion that had satisfied me the most. There are occasions when I thought if it would be achievable but that happened at the end.