They say an ideal captain on a cricket field always leads by example. The entire team always looks towards the skipper for motivation. If a captain can raise the bar higher by giving his best on the field, the rest of the unit automatically gets charged up. As a leader, you always have to be inspirational so that others can follow your footsteps.
However, these logics do not apply to Mushfiqur Rahim, the skipper of the Bangladesh Test team, who is happy to be dominated by the others.
As an individual, Mushfiqur is very honest and always tries to give more than 100 percent on the field. In Bangladesh’s 17 years of Test history, by far he is their best captain in this format. Seven out of their 10 Test triumphs have come during his tenure, which includes victories against big boys like England, Australia and Sri Lanka (at their backward) within past year and a half.
But still, at present, there is insecurity all around his game and fear of failure is dictating his decisions on the field.
Following a horrible tour of Zimbabwe under the leadership of Shakib Al Hasan, a 24-year old Mushfiqur was given the charge of the team on October 2011. Initially, he was made captain in all three formats but later in 2014 following a poor form of the team, Mashrafe Mortaza replaced him as limited-overs skipper, while Mushfiqur continued to lead the Test team.
Despite not being a natural leader, one has to give him the due credit for taking up the challenge. We should not forget that he has kept wickets for the most part of his leadership tenure. Along with that, he has also been one of the most dependable batsmen the in the Test team. A batting average of 35.16 in the longest format proves that.
So, life hasn’t been a bed of roses for Mushfiqur, who made his Test debut at Lord’s at the age of 16 back in 2005.
However, despite trying wholeheartedly to handle the triple role in the Test team, time and again Mushfiqur has to face a lot of criticisms for being a defensive captain. When the opposition is at the top, he looks like fish out of the water. Unlike Mortaza, he doesn’t have that spark in him as a leader. Majority of the time Mushfiqur tends to be reactive rather than being proactive. Such negative thinking on the part of the captain, has hurt his team’s chances on quite a few occasions.
Besides that, often, we have seen he doesn’t have faith in the abilities of his own teammates. Probably, that is the reason why he did not choose to bat first after winning the toss in Potchefstroom and Bloemfontein. On both occasions, he thought his batting unit is not capable enough to take on the likes of Morne Morkel and Kagiso Rabada on a fresh pitch.
Furthermore, in the press conference, to defend his decision, he went on to admit that winning the toss was a “mistake”.
“I think it was my mistake to win the toss. I have been trying to do everything honestly for the last 12 years. But in these last two games, it seems it’d been better had I lost the toss. I think it is my personal failure. I am not able to motivate my players or guide my bowlers.”
When a captain openly admits that he is not being able to motivate his teammates, then it is high time that the team management should look for a new person for the job.
Meanwhile, Mushfiqur didn’t stop with that. He further went on to add that even his own fielding position is being decided by the “coaches.”
“I am not a good fielder. The coaches wanted me to field in the deep because they feel I give away runs or drop catches in the field. I tried to abide by their instruction. You have to do what the team management tells you to do.”
For me, this should be the final nail in the coffin of the captaincy career of Mushfiqur. When you are not good enough to decide your own fielding position, then you do not deserve to lead any team, forget about a Test side.
Mushfiqur is still Bangladesh’s best Test batsman and he has plenty to offer for his country. Thus, on an ideal world, he should be relieved of the burden of captaincy before Bangladesh’s next home series against Sri Lanka which is likely to take place at the end of this year. He has served the team as captain for six long years and now he should be allowed to focus on his own batting.
The Bangladesh Cricket Board should immediately convince seniors like Shakib Al Hasan or Tamim Iqbal to take up the captaincy of the Test team. I know the boards had already tried that before but the concerned players were not ready to take the responsibility. However, this time the authorities have to find an alternative as the situation has reached an extreme level.