ESPNcricinfo’s South African correspondent, Firdose Moonda reported on October 4, 2017: “Photographs taken on Sunday showed a strip so green it almost could not be distinguished from the outfield. By Monday some of the grass had been shaved off, as shown in the accompanying picture, and since then, persistent rain has kept the pitch under covers. More showers are forecast for Thursday, which means the track may not see much sunlight before the first ball is bowled on Friday, and it could be tricky for batsmen on both sides”. Her reports and the photograph posted on the website indicated, the home team’s captain Faf du Plessis would have a track according to his wish – more pace and bounce.
But as a matter of fact, it turned out to be yet another dry wicket. Neither was there any grass nor any hints of true bounce to aid the pace bowlers. It was almost a carbon copy of the track at Potchefstroom. So, any captain who would win the toss, would definitely bat first. But yet again, Mushfiqur Rahim decided to field first despite knowing the fact, this track is ideal for the batters to cash in. He was even mocked by Faf at the toss who said, “Nine times out of 10 you will bat first. It is a very normal cricket wicket”.
Cricketers who play at the highest level and lead their men, are always expected to learn from their mistakes, but sadly, the Bangladesh captain seems to be a persona made of different material who is disinterested to learn from his mistakes. And, he loves to repeat them with a great consistency. An atom bomb may fall on him, a Tsunami may engulf him, a twister may threaten to blow him away or an earthquake may threaten him to bury underneath the earth, but still, Mushfiq would exhibit the determination of a saint to persist with his plans which are flawed and useless.
Even if the local goons chase Mushfiq down with guns in their hands and threaten him to change his flawed plans, he won’t change it. Now, definitely, Mushfiq is a rare species and a wonderful case study for the neuroscientists and psychologists who have done various studies on why some people don’t learn from their mistakes.
Well, Mushfiq might not shine as a captain or an intellect of the game, but surely, the study of his unique brain might win some scientists or psychologists a Nobel Prize! That would be a matter of pride for the people of Bangladesh who are extremely obsessed with winning a Nobel Prize these days.
Well, toss won and decision to field was taken. But what Mushfiq exhibited as a captain in first session was nothing short of hilarious captaincy. It was a wrong decision to bowl first and thus, to rectify his decision, he was needed to come out as a proactive captain. But as usual, it was a confused Bangladesh captain who did not know what he was doing out there.
Mustafizur Rahman started operating with the breeze from the Loch Logan end. Any captain would place at least three fielders at slip, but Mushfiq kept two and the third slip was placed at leg slip. With the ball new and shining like fresh apple, the idea to keep a man at leg slip did not make any sense. It forced Mustafiz to land the ball more on the middle and leg stump line and Dean Elgar flayed those easily on the onside.
Subasish Roy leaked fifteen runs in one over and he was replaced by Soumya Sarkar from the Willows end! How on earth could a captain bring on a part-time medium-pacer on the first session of Day 1 and that also within five overs? Then, surprisingly, from the Loch Logan end, Mustafiz was replaced by Rubel Hossain within six overs! Only a captain with no experience of playing at this level would operate with four bowlers in first ten overs of a Test match. But Mushfiq has the experience of playing Test cricket since 2005. Still, he was found wanting in the middle. He committed this same mistake at Potchefstroom and repeated it at Bloemfontein.
In the post lunch and tea session, Mustafiz, Rubel and Roy bowled with a lot of aggressive intent. But if an aggressive pace bowler is not gifted with an aggressive field, how can he think of fetching wickets? Mushfiq’s field setting remained defensive and the South African batsmen scored runs easily as if they were having a picnic at Manguang Oval and they were served food and desserts by Mushfiq.
Sometimes we twist reality so that it looks like we didn’t make a mistake at all. Unfortunately, for a person to learn from his mistakes, he must have the ability to recognize that he made one. We don’t like to feel bad, so we find ways to skirt around the truth which is one of the biggest obstacles one can make for himself and it’s arguably the most important one to overcome.
According to the psychology experts, this is known as “choice-supportive bias, or a tendency to retroactively create positive attributes to a choice you’ve already made. A good example of this is Buyer’s Stockholm Syndrome or Post-purchase rationalization”. As for example, according to Wikipedia, “If a person chooses option A instead of option B, they are likely to ignore or downplay the faults of option A while amplifying those of option B. Conversely, they are also likely to notice and amplify the advantages of option A and not notice or de-emphasize those of option B”.
Mushfiq is someone who doesn’t want to accept, he is making mistakes and tries to rationalize it either by weak logics or emotional statements. Perhaps, that’s why he keeps on repeating the mistakes and to overcome this, he needs to accept his mistakes first of all.