Bangladesh’s Mashrafe Mortaza to step down as captain

Speculation around Mortaza’s future has been abounding since last year’s Cricket World Cup.

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Adding credence to talks of an impending retirement of their One-Day International captain, the Bangladesh Cricket Board announced that Mashrafe Mortaza will be replaced as leader at the end of Bangladesh’s upcoming three-match series against Zimbabwe.

Speculation around Mortaza’s future has been abounding since last year’s Cricket World Cup. And though Mortaza declared earlier this year that he will continue playing for as long as he enjoys the game, it hardly served to quell talks around what has increasingly seemed like an imminent retirement.

Now, Nazmul Hassan, the BCB president, has declared that not only will Mortaza no longer lead the side after the Zimbabwe series, but he will also have to earn his place in it by proving his form and fitness.

“We have started to stress on beep tests, so Mashrafe may not pass the beep tests, so we can drop him if he doesn’t pass it,” Hassan said. “We also have to keep it in mind that Mashrafe’s leadership was vital in the turnaround in Bangladesh cricket. But, the time has come for him to decide how long he wants to play.

“I think Mashrafe will play the ODI series against Zimbabwe, pending fitness. We will be lenient about his fitness. But very soon, we have to decide on the team and captain for the next World Cup. We don’t have much time. We will make our decision after this ODI series.”

As for Mortaza’s retirement, Hassan said that it’s up to each player’s discretion. Mortaza had, in August last year, asked the board for time to ponder over his ODI future, but things have hardly become clearer in the time since.

“Retirement depends on individual players,” Hassan said. “We know that top players retire on their own will. We also wanted to give him a good send-off. He can play if he wants to, but I am more concerned about the captaincy. Once we declare on the captaincy, he can enter the team on his performance.

“When I spoke to him during the World Cup, we discussed that if we can arrange a home ODI, he will retire. After returning, he changed his mind. And then he also said that he doesn’t want a send-off. He never told me. I saw it in the media. We have taken a month or a month-and-a-half to decide our next ODI captain.”

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