Monday, 4 July, 2022

The curious case of Fizz

Can you motivate Mustafizur Rahman to play Test cricket? Bangladesh’s newly-appointed Test skipper Shakib Al Hasan was asked during the pre-series press conference on Wednesday by the lone Bangladeshi journalist, who arrived in Antigua earlier to cover the bilateral series between Bangladesh and West Indies.

The journalist had all the reason to put up the question considering the fact he had done a story on his OTT platform that suggested the left-arm pace bowler is not ready to play both the Tests.

According to an audio clip available in the story that was produced following the last day of the lone practice game, it appeared that Mustafizur was requesting Shakib literally onto his knees that he doesn’t want to play both Test matches.

The incident happened when Shakib joked with him that he confirmed his place in both Test matches from the sideline after he picked up the second wicket in his first over to mark his return to competitive red-ball cricket after a long gap.

Mustafizur, who last played red-ball cricket during the home series against West Indies in 2021, was reluctant to play Tests as he stressed the need to pick and choose formats to prolong his international career.

However, the left-arm pace bowler, who is not included in the Test format contract for 2022 after his insistence not to consider him for the red-ball, later changed his stance and agreed to play the Test series against West Indies.

It is understood that the left-arm pacer didn’t want to refuse the BCB after an official letter was sent to him during his stint in the Indian Premier League asking him to clear his position regarding his Test future.

It didn’t take long for Mustafizur to understand that the BCB is losing their patience as far as his Test participation is concerned and if he remained adamant not to take part in Tests, it could hurt his relationship with the BCB.

Shakib, however, didn’t agree with the observation that came in front of him as he stated that none could inculcate motivation in anyone considering it must come from inside.

“I don’t think anyone can be inspired out of nowhere,” Shakib said.

“As he (Mustafizur) is in the series, I’m sure he is motivated to play these two matches and that is important for us. As a captain, I’m focused on these two matches and he looked very motivated to play these two matches,” he added.

The inclusion of Mustafizur in the opening Test on Thursday clearly validated Shakib’s words.

Meanwhile, Shakib added that no one should push Mustafizur to play Test cricket if he is not enjoying it.

“If Mustafizur prefers that he wants to play one day or T20 then I think we should respect that,” said the Test leader, which clearly suggested that he is not ready to accept anyone on the Test side with questionable commitment in the longer format.

“In the long term I’m not sure what is in store and whether he wants to play Test or not but I think every player has individual preference and choice and there is something like a comfort zone and we must respect that,” he added.

Test cricket had always been at the bottom of Mustafizur’s priority list and a local coach pointed out one of the reasons behind it and it was explained to him by none other than the seamer himself.

“One day, Mustafizur was telling me that you know why I don’t want to play (Test) because suppose I bowled the best delivery of the day still it can come to no use as the batsman can leave it without any effort putting water on my whole effort,” the coach told The Daily Sun on request of anonymity.

Mustafizur aka ‘Fizz’ certainly made his point clear with the statement. It also implies that for him every ball is important, a prerequisite to succeed in the shortest format - a format that can fetch money and according to the majority of the country’s cricket fraternity, it is believed to be the biggest motivation for the boy of Satkhira.