So, Mushfiqur Rahim is finally out of the gas chamber. He no longer has to take the blame for others, neither he needs to issue a public apology on behalf of the entire team in a post-match press conference.
Finally, with Shakib al Hasan is taking charge of the Bangladesh Test side, Mushfiqur can concentrate on his primary skill — batting.
With seven victories out of 34 attempts, which includes triumphs against heavyweights like Sri Lanka, England and Australia, Mushfiqur has certainly been Bangladesh’s most successful Test captain. Despite not being a natural leader, when needed, he did not run away from the responsibilities, like some of his teammates did. When others refused to take the burden of leadership, Mushfiqur, the crisis man, put his hands up.
Captaincy was nothing but a crown of thorns for him and he was wearing it for last six years. By his own admission, towards the end of his stint, Mushfiqur was not being able to motivate the team. Leadership was not his forte, it was just an added responsibility. Probably that’s why Mushfiqur has also been the most criticised Bangladeshi skipper ever.
Eventually, as predicted by CricketSoccer following the debacle in South Africa, the big bosses in Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) realised that time has come for Mushifiqur to be relieved of this obligation — a decision, which seems like a blessing in disguise for him.
“We want the best from Mushfiqur in batting. We think he should focus on batting and that’s why we are taking some pressure off him,” the BCB President Nazmul Hasan hit the bull’s eyes while appointing Shakib as the new Test skipper.
Mushfiqur — An ideal No. 4
Yes, at this point in time, Bangladesh need Mushfiqur, the batsman, who is undoubtedly their best performer in the five-day format for quite some time now. In fact, he is a serious contender for being regarded as Bangladesh’s best Test batsman ever. With his technique, class and temperament – Mushfiqur certainly has his noses ahead of his competitors like Tamim Iqbal, Shakib Al Hasan or Habibul Bashar. Test hundreds in West Indies, Sri Lanka, New Zealand, India and at home show his flexibilities as a batsman in different conditions.
And now, with the burden of captaincy and wicket keeping (in the five-day format) being taken away from him, the 30-year can entirely focus on his batting and improve his Test average of 35.16.
Having been around for 12 long years in the international arena, Mushfiqur is a veteran now and there is still a good 5-6 years of cricket left in him. Thus, at this stage of his career, Bangladesh cricket needs his batting to blossom, fully.
With Liton Das being trusted with the keeping gloves, now the team management should not have any hesitation in asking Mushfiqur to bat at No. 4, which he couldn’t earlier due to the keeping responsibilities. In the next few years, Bangladesh will have Test tours of Australia, New Zealand and England and on those pitches where seam bowlers get significant sideways movement, a technically sound Mushfiqur, who is equally good in his front and back foot, is the ideal No. 4 option. He will provide a much-needed stability to the middle-order and others can bat around him.
Also, at No. 4, Mushfiqur will get a lot more support from the other end to build his innings, which he lacks while batting at 5 or 6, where invariably he is being left to battle it out with the tailenders. Ideally, if Mushfiqur bats higher up the order, he will get a lot more opportunities to play those long innings, ultimately, which will be beneficial for the team.
Despite the recent debacle in South Africa, Bangladesh are still a team which is on the rise. At home, they are a force to reckon with in all three formats and now as Shakib mentioned recently while taking charge as a Test caption, their next target is improving their overseas record, especially in the five-day format. And the skipper knows, if his team wants to have a realistic chance of improving it’s away-record, then Mushfiqur’s bat needs to play a vital role.