“Day by day, Mustafiz is transforming into a bowler who is more recognized for his Twenty20 heroics and that’s where I get afraid. The lucrative offers must not deter this young man from becoming one of the game’s finest and if Bangladesh wishes to see Mustafiz become an all-time great then, he must put emphasis on first class cricket”

 

A full-strength Indian team was defeated comprehensively by Bangladesh in front of a vociferous crowd at Mirpur on the same date when The Tigers had stunned Australia at Cardiff ten years ago.

For the first fifteen overs it seemed, India might pull it off, but, as the match progressed, a young boy from Satkhira named Mustafizur Rahman, made it quite impossible for the visitors with his variation of pace and unplayable cutters. On his one-day international debut, he joined his fellow-teammate Taskin Ahmed as only the second Bangladeshi bowler to grab a five-wicket haul. Throughout the one-day series, Mustafizur continued to create havoc and announced his arrival on the international scene with a bang.

A month later, in the limited-overs and Test series against South Africa, Mustafiz was at his sublime best. In the first Test at Chittagong, the number one Test team at that time slid dramatically from 136 for 1 to 248  all out due to a lively spell of full-and-tempting deliveries from Mustafiz. In one eventful over, Fizz got rid of the classy Hashim Amla, Quinton de Kock, and JP Duminy to trigger a post-tea collapse. This boy is not an ordinary bowler, but a special talent who has the ability to claim a place among the all-time best left-arm pacers.

At least a year has passed since Fizz made his debut in international cricket and at the moment, he has created waves in England, Australia, and other major cricketing nations. In 2016, Mustafiz’s bowling prowess has sparkled more in cricket’s newest format, Twenty20. Along with his off-cutters, his incoming deliveries have proved quite a handful for the batsmen worldwide and his ability to check the flow of runs in cricket’s batsman-dominated format has been a subject of interest to many.

In India, Fizz’s bowling prowess in the Indian Premier League is creating a lot of buzz. As I don’t follow Twenty20 Leagues, I come to know about Fizz’s successes through various posts on social media. The Bangladeshi fans and critics are all crazy about him. Fizz’s exhibition in Twenty20 formats has created waves in England and Australia, where the Franchise teams have shown a lot of interest in recruiting this talent.

Fizz’s achievements should have been a matter of pride and immense gratification for me,  but perhaps, I am the only cricket fan from Bangladesh, who is unable to cheer Mustafiz’s feats in the Franchise-based cricket leagues.

The Twenty20 Leagues offer cash, glamour, and fast-paced cricket. It’s all about entertainment, but can these leagues be regarded as the nursery for creating the ultimate legends like Viv Richards, Imran Khan, Sachin Tendulkar, Brian Lara, Wasim Akram, Muttiah Muralitharan, or Shane Warne?

Can these leagues play an important role in uplifting the morale of a team? I have witnessed some of the senior West Indian players strike gold in these leagues for the last five years or so, but have they been able to bring back West Indies cricket on the right track? Or, can it help the South African players to motivate themselves and help them to regain their lost glory in Test cricket?

Moreover, why cricketers like Kumar Sangakkara and Co shunned such leagues for the sake of County Cricket to polish themselves?

Why Ranji Trophy, County, and Shield Cricket play such an important role in rebuilding a player who is struggling from a lean-patch and why does such longer-version of domestic cricket continue to produce high-profile players since they started their glorious journey?

What a four- or five-day match can teach a cricketer, a twenty-over match can’t. A cricketer’s ultimate patience and skill are tested in a Ranji Trophy or County Cricket. They prepare a cricketer in such a manner so that they can acquire the abilities to face the challenges of international cricket.  This is why Kumar Sangakkara decided to hone his skills by playing in County Cricket and Ajankiya Rahane rediscovered himself by spending a brief period in the Ranji Trophy.

I would have been a happier fan if Sussex or any teams from Australia’s Shield Cricket wanted Mustafiz to feature in their first class cricket. A brief stint in County Cricket would have helped Mustafiz a lot. He would have been able to come in contact with better coaches and utilize the experience earned by coming in contact with some renowned personalities of the game even more productively.

One can realize how Worcestershire had helped Shakib Al Hasan in 2010 to elevate his game to the next level.  Shakib was a more mature cricketer after playing County Cricket and frankly speaking, the County teams won’t be dissatisfied if they recruit players like Mushfiqur Rahim, Tamim Iqbal, Mahmudullah Riyad, Soumya Sarkar, or Mominul Haque.

Day by day, Mustafiz is transforming into a bowler who is more recognized for his Twenty20 heroics and that’s where I get afraid. The lucrative offers must not deter this young man from becoming one of the game’s finest and if Bangladesh wishes to see Mustafiz become an all-time great then, he must put emphasis on first class cricket. It’s the duty of the Bangladesh Cricket Board and his well-wishers to provide him the opportunity to showcase his talent in County Cricket.

Consistent performance in Test cricket is the ultimate yardstick to judge talent. You can shout and cheer about a Gayle or an AB de Villiers show in a Twenty20 League, but at the end of the day, Viv Richards and Graeme Pollock will be regarded as the all-time best.

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It’s my wish to see Mustafiz transform into a deadly Test bowler and it’s only then I can cheer for him.

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