Ever since he lost his limited-overs captaincy to Mashrafe Mortaza in September 2014, Mushfiqur’s leadership in Tests has come under a lot of scrutiny © Getty Images
Mushfiqur Rahim, Bangladesh’s Test captain, has said coach Chandika Hathurusingha gave Tamim Iqbal the role of “helping” the bowlers closely during the last session of the Dhaka Test against England. He said that the four senior players in the field – himself, Tamim, Shakib Al Hasan and Mahmudullah – were given specific roles and told to lead the team from the front.
Parallel to Bangladesh’s 108-run victory last Sunday, there had been ongoing speculation about Mushfiqur’s captaincy after it appeared that Tamim was in charge of making bowling and fielding changes in the 22.5 overs after lunch in which Bangladesh took all ten England wickets as they were bowled out for 164. He was in discussions with Shakib Al Hasan and Mehedi Hasan ahead of every over, and was also setting fields for them.
It is highly unlikely for Tamim, despite being Mushfiqur’s deputy, to usurp the role on his own, but Hathurusingha only described what had happened inside the dressing-room during the tea break in an interview this week with ESPNcricinfo, saying he was disappointed after England got to 100 for no loss at the tea interval and told the players to step up to the challenge.
Mushfiqur said that other players apart from Tamim, such as Mahmudullah and Mominul Haque, were also tasked with specific roles, which ultimately helped Bangladesh take all ten wickets in one session.
“During the tea break, the coach was angry towards the players, which was obvious as we were not able to execute our plans in the middle,” Mushfiqur told the Dhaka Tribune. “The bowlers also struggled to execute. We had a group chat comprising all the senior players and the coach. He told the senior players to step up and take the responsibility. We were given some roles. Tamim was standing at mid-off so that he could help the bowlers closely.
“To add to that, close-in fielders like Mominul [Haque] and Mahmudullah Riyad bhai, they were also given roles to distract the batsmen. Shakib and Miraz meanwhile, were given roles as bowlers so that they could get the breakthroughs. With the combination of everyone’s effort, we were able to win the match.”
Mushfiqur skirted the notion that he wasn’t in charge of the team, saying the players tried to implement on the field the messages that Hathurusingha sent from the dressing room.
“Coach always tells us, whoever has the ball in his hand, he is the captain at that time as only he knows how and what to do in that particular situation and what is the plan,” he said.
“So, all the 11 players in the team always try to follow that and whatever message we receive from the coach, we discuss and try to implement that on the field. Especially us, the four senior members of the team, were given instructions to lead from the front and fulfill the responsibilities.”
While it doesn’t answer who exactly decided that Mushfiqur should not be in charge of bowling changes and fielding positions, it is clear that there are rumblings about Mushfiqur’s captaincy within the Bangladesh cricket hierarchy. Ever since he lost his limited-overs captaincy to Mashrafe Mortaza in September 2014, Mushfiqur’s leadership in Tests has come under a lot of scrutiny, especially after his defensive approach during the second Test against Pakistan in Dhaka.
Mushfiqur however said he was still up for all three roles – batting, wicketkeeping and captaining – in the Test arena, though he would accept anything that the board decides for the team’s benefit.
“I think I am enjoying all the three roles at the moment,” Mushfiqur said. “If you notice, wicketkeeping has always been my first priority. I have scored a double-hundred in Tests and also kept wickets in the same game. There is always a soft corner for it (keeping).
“But if the team management and the board decide that they might get the best outcome by picking someone else and approach me, then I will have to think about it. I will decide which will help my team as we all are part of the team.”
Bangladesh’s next Test series is against New Zealand in January 2017, closely followed by Tests against India and Sri Lanka.
Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo’s Bangladesh correspondent. @isam84
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Source: ESPN Crickinfo