Published: Friday, May 10, 2013

Mushfiqur's Decision to Resign

An emotional call?

Mushfiqur Rahim’s resignation from national captaincy has left everyone involved with the team and outside it guessing. It was evident from the press conference in which he made the announcement that he was very emotionally exhausted from the whole tour — the ups and downs in fortunes of winning their first Test in Zimbabwe and then losing the ODI series after being 1-0 up, which seemed to be the straw that broke Mushfiqur’s back.
But two things are certain or as certain as can be in these tumultuous times — there appears to be no rift in the team, and there is a very encouraging solidarity among the players, coaching staff and officials as they have closed ranks out of respect for their young, departing captain.
No one in the team, from the coaching staff to the younger players, was willing to go on record when talking about the decision of Mushfiqur. Even their off-the-record utterances were guarded — some were not willing to venture anything beyond a ‘no comment, sorry’ when asked about Mushfiqur. The general atmosphere was of surprise and sadness that one of their very own, their leader at least until the end of the tour, was undergoing emotional turmoil.
“I am saddened to hear that our captain has resigned,” said a young member of the squad at the team hotel yesterday. When asked if he saw it coming after the loss in the second ODI, he said, “None of us saw it coming. I did not even know about it in the dressing room after the game.”
That it was a surprise to all and sundry indicates that it was an emotional decision, taken in the heat of the moment after a disappointing three weeks in Zimbabwe. The spontaneity of the decision was evidenced by a member of the extended coaching staff learning about the huge development only after reaching the team hotel.
The surprise in the dressing room was reflected in vice-captain Mahmudullah Riyad, who was conducting the press conference before Mushfiqur came in. Efforts were underway, among the few senior colleagues who were told of the decision at the end of the game, to dissuade him.
A senior member was asked if he could put his finger on why Mushfiqur arrived at the decision. “You know, we are a young team, and he is a young captain. I do not know exactly why he took the decision. Maybe the pressure got to him, it is not easy being the captain of an international team and that too at such a young age,” he said. “The Zimbabwe series has always been hard for us. But this time we won our first Test here and if the toss had gone our way, things could have been different in the ODIs.”
With everyone guessing, one can only go back to the things he said during that eventful press conference. The reasons he gave were that he felt that his batting and leadership deficiencies led to the loss in the ODI series, but his batting has not been well below par on the tour, having scored a 93 in the Tests and getting starts in the ODIs. However, he did say when answering a question about complacency that: “Yes, it seemed like that. Of course I cannot say that they [Zimbabwe] did not bowl well, but as you said there was something missing in the application and skill, for which we lost four or five wickets when we should not have.”
One can only assume that perhaps he was a little fed up with the team underperforming and known to be an intense character — that may have been enough.
While no one could give a plausible reason as to why he would step down, there was a unanimous plea that the team and its well-wishers should respect his decision — a reflection of the esteem he is held in. Most members, from officials to players, have asked readers to be thankful for the time he has given them and not be saddened or frustrated by the time he may no longer be putting in as skipper.
If indeed the first poor tour in a year and a half of leadership had driven him to resignation from leadership duties, then he will be one of the few Bangladeshi cricketers who demand such high standards from himself and the team — not an unwelcome development. If he does eventually take back the captaincy as there are efforts within the board afoot in that regard, it will be a boon for Bangladesh. If he does not, then the country should be happy to have a player with such integrity and one who cares extremely deeply about the team’s fortunes.