Is the Mahmudullah-Mushfiqur duo in or out – BCB needs to decide

Can the Bangladesh Cricket Board call spade a spade? It seems highly unlikely factoring in the recent turn of events involving the senior duo of Mahmudullah and Mushfiqur Rahim, and their so-called “rest” from the three-matchT20I series against Zimbabwe. Have they been rested or axed is the million dollar question. And as things are at the moment, it looks highly unlikely that it will be answered in the near future.

BCB higher-ups arranged a lunch for the national players at a city hotel on Monday (July 25) where team director Khaled Mahmud insisted that they don’t feel they can say that the transition period has begun, which suggests that their actions are not a by-product of their decisions. Though initially, it looked like Bangladesh cricket is entering a new era considering the fact that none of the seniors will be available during the three-match T20I series against Zimbabwe. But in reality, it hardly seems to be moving in that direction.

The BCB decided to rest Mahmudullah and Mushfiqur for the T20Is, while Shakib Al Hasan is unavailable for the whole tour for personal reasons. Tamim Iqbal retired from the format recently, while Mashrafe Mortaza – who is considered the man behind developing the ‘fabulous five’ – is all but over as far as playing international cricket is concerned. BCB’s claim of resting them instead of saying they were not considered due to form only shows that the board is not convinced with their own judgments about trying out their luck with young blood for a considerable amount of time.

Furthermore, the BCB is yet to clarify if Nurul Hasan will be the stand-in captain or not, because if Mahmudullah is rested it implies that he still holds his position as the T20I captain.

“Handing captaincy to Nurul Hasan doesn’t necessarily indicate the exclusion of Ryad (Mahmudullah) and Mushi or Shakib. The thing is, we want to examine a few players, see how they perform as we are all aware of the abilities of the senior players. We are trying to create opportunities for our young players to play a whole series,” Mahmud said on Monday. “You can’t judge a player just to oversee his performance in a single game; it takes time. We must need to turn around at a stage. However, I wouldn’t say that our transition period has already started.

“Sohan [Nurul] is leading the side since seniors aren’t there. It [captaincy] might get changed once the seniors are back. He has been handed captaincy only for this series,” he said before adding that they are well aware that at some point the seniors will have to pave ways for the youngsters. “Someone needs to take the baton. Tamim, Ryad [Mahmudullah], Shakib, Mushi [Mushfiqur] are the icons for Bangladesh cricket although Mashrafe isn’t there. They won’t play forever. Many of us speculated whether this is [captaincy change] going to be a test, which is not. To me, this is the format where we couldn’t explore ourselves to the maximum level,” he said.

Bangladesh need to make up their mind about how they want to explore and go about their T20I plans accordingly instead of just for the tour of Zimbabwe, otherwise, it will be a futile exercise to say the least. This message that seniors will return is certainly going to have an impact on the mind of the youngsters as they will be aware that their reasonable performances will hardly be enough for them to retain their places as the senior cricketers have a big say one way or the other.

BCB could have easily come up with their plan of action that they are discussing at the drawing table and communicate that Shakib will be leading the side in T20Is from the Asia Cup, while Nurul will act as his deputy from then onwards. As far as Mahmudullah and Mushfiqur are concerned, their experience will be hard to ignore in the coming days and largely due to this fact the board opted to choose to rest them instead of axing them from T20Is. When they will return – if they eventually make it – it will largely be due to their experience because there is no T20I tournament in between the Asia Cup and World Cup where they can show their credentials to get their place back.