Bangladesh left-arm quick Mustafizur Rahman has had criticism thrown his way by BCB’s team director and former cricketer Khaled Mahmud, who thinks the pacer’s decision to skip Test matches is harmful to the side.
Rahman, who was allowed to give the Test series in South Africa a miss, is also set to skip the pair of World Test Championship fixtures at home against Sri Lanka in May as he stays put in India for the ongoing edition of the Indian Premier League.
The Delhi Capitals man could have been useful to Bangladesh’s prospects on dry surfaces in Dhaka and Chattogram with his mix of cutters but is utilising his strengths instead for the IPL franchise in Mumbai and Pune.
While the matter once again raises the club versus the national team debate and how the lucrative nature of an IPL gig influences players’ choices, its roots go down to BCB president Nazmul Hassan, who allowed centrally contracted players to pick and choose formats.
The chairman has been saying since mid last year that Bangladesh’s centrally contracted players will be allowed to decide which formats they want to concentrate on, irrespective of their playing experience in the set-up.
What began as a verbal promise seems to have been applied. Rahman was given an official clearance from the BCB regime to skip the South African Tests. It wasn’t much of an issue at the time, given Bangladesh had just won the ODI series on the tour and their premier quick Taskin Ahmed was available.
But with Taskin out with injury, and Bangladesh looking to firm up their bowling unit with a proper seamer against the Lankans, Rahman being allowed to miss the two critical WTC fixtures has raised eyebrows within the team’s support staff.
“(BCB president Nazmul Hassan) Papon bhai said that the players can discuss which format they want to play but this was only applicable to the senior players, not all players.
“Would it be okay if (Mahmudul Hasan) Joy said that he doesn’t want to play Tests? How old is Mustafiz? How long has he been playing for? He is not Shakib, Tamim, Mashrafe or Mushfiq. These players have provided service for many years. I don’t know why Mustafiz doesn’t want to play Tests. The board should decide which format a player plays.”Mahmud told the press, as quoted by ESPNcricinfo.
Mahmud made a point against less experienced players skipping Test matches by stressing home the fact that Rahman is approaching his “peak” years as a fast-bowler, when he could be a real handful for Bangladesh.
The former cricketer clarified he is not asking the bowler to play all the Tests that Bangladesh take part in but to prioritise certain fixtures and be fully committed to them as per the team’s demands.
“Shakib and Tamim are 34-35 years old. They deserve breaks. But Litton Das doesn’t need breaks. When he becomes Shakib or Tamim, I will say that he deserves rest. Mustafiz must play Tests. It is his peak time. I am not saying he should play all the Tests but he should definitely be available for six to eight matches per year,”he added.
Rahman, who started off as a match-winning limited-overs force for Bangladesh, has always had raw elements to his bowling that made experts talk up his Test match prospects. His ability to swing the ball with the left-arm angle and use cutters to very good effect was expected to give an edge to Bangladesh’s pace attack.
As it has turned out, however, the 26-year-old has played only 14 Tests over seven years for Bangladesh, with the last of those dating back to February 2021.