Monday, 20 March, 2023

Farewell culture: Hardly a possibility

Since former Bangladesh ODI skipper Mashrafe bin Mortaza decided not to lead the national side in the 50-over format in Sylhet in 2020, there was a hue and cry for his farewell match.

It was an emotional exit for one of the most influential captains of Bangladesh as his exit in national colours look all but certain with each passing day considering even he does not believe he can make a comeback.

Mashrafe retired from T20Is in 2017 after his so-called altercation with former head coach Chandika Hathurusingha while he decided not to lead the ODI side anymore following a cold rift between him and former head coach Russell Domingo in 2020.

Three years ago following his announcement, Mashrafe, who is now 39 years old, was never picked to represent the national team and his departure from the Tigers dressing room ended the era of the fabulous five.

Fabulous five that included the senior quadruple -- Shakib Al Hasan, Mushfiqur Rahim, Tamim Iqbal and Mahmudullah along with Mashrafe certainly had done a lot for Bangladesh to help them develop as a force to reckon in the international cricketing circle.

As a result, they certainly deserve to get a farewell game to say a final goodbye but is that possible in the present context remains a big question if not anything else despite the fact it turns out to be a matter of discussion once a year.

More precisely when Mashrafe is in an around the cricket field that is getting slimmer with passing days due to his political engagements being the Member of Parliament as well as his knee injuries that prevented him from reaching the height that was expected from him.

During the Dhaka phase of the ongoing BPL, Mashrafe’s father Golam Mortaza claimed that the pace bowler is probably spending his last year in competitive cricket following their match against Dhaka Dominators at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium in Mirpur on January 10.

“I don’t think he can continue (playing competitive cricket) even if you are watching that and today he bowled literally limping and it’s very difficult to play cricket in this manner. How long can he continue playing in this manner? It should come to an end,” Mortaza senior told reporters though his son claimed otherwise at the Sylhet International Stadium on Thursday (January 26) adding that he does not have any expectation of having a farewell game from the BCB.

Mashrafe, however, insisted that there should be a farewell culture in Bangladesh as that would help the senior four cricketers to leave the field on the head held high and be an inspiration for others.

“I don’t have any expectation (about getting a farewell) and I don’t have any grudge about it because all I have is love for Bangladesh cricket. I can’t say about myself because I left (international cricket) a long time ago. I don’t have any expectations and I don’t believe in it (having a farewell) regarding me,” said Mashrafe.

“There should be a culture (that players have a farewell game at home) and we should set it up for the players. We now have Shakib, Tamim, Mushfiq and Riyad (Mahmudullah) because whether anyone believes it or not they are legends in Bangladesh and there should be no doubt about it. Bangladeshi people should have the chance to give them farewell from the field and they can leave the game with respect,” he said.

Mashrafe’s statement surely pointed fingers at the BCB considering the board is expected to hold the farewell game if not anything else but if the history is taken into consideration at least on this aspect the board was more than happy to send their legendary cricketers with their heads held high.

Mashrafe was asked to play a farewell game though he didn’t take it. Mahmudullah’s decision to retire from the Test format in Zimbabwe came as a blow to the board while before the ICC T20 World Cup Mahmudullah was asked whether he wants to have a farewell game in the shortest format or not as the board was not ready to see their former T20I captain ending his career after being axed.

Mahmudullah did not agree too and was firm that he wants to give it one last try whether it eventually turns into a reality only the future can say. Mushfiqur and Tamim also announced their retirement from T20Is though the board officials insisted if they had wanted it could have been done in a different way. Shakib is yet to retire from any format but as the trend goes, it is expected to be announced on social media platforms rather than anywhere else considering that is the norm followed in modern-day cricket unless the board and the players have a mutual understanding where it is crystal clear that both parties know exact date and time to call it a day.

India’s most influential captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni also announced his retirement on social media platforms and this is the way going forward for across format cricketers considering the fact cricketers playing in different formats choose the format to retire one by another.

A top BCB official on request of anonymity told The Daily Sun on Thursday that they are not sure whether cricketers actually know when they want to retire considering that is the first step towards having a farewell game but on the same note, he added that it is not possible to give three farewell game to one player rather it should be something like when a player decides to retire from Test cricket it can be considered his farewell match.

“First of all, we always want that our cricketers can retire from the field but for that, you need communication between the board and the players where the latter says that he feels this is his last series and we plan accordingly but in reality that is not the case in Bangladesh and so anyone gets dropped unless he is making a comeback it is difficult for him to expect a farewell game,” said the director.

“Nowadays cricketers are playing different formats so you cannot expect that there will be farewell games for every format and that is the reason they are announcing their retirement on social media platforms,” he said.

“What I feel is that if a player says that he is retiring from Test he can be given a farewell game considering it is the pinnacle of all format,” he said while adding that players who are not playing Test can come forward and share their exit plan if necessary if they want to end their cricket from the field.

Another BCB official wondered whether cricketers will be brave enough to say it as he feels that it might have an impact on their endorsement market if not anything else and taking everything into consideration it looks hard to see national cricketers having a farewell game unless he knows for sure that it is the right time to end his career.