Khaled Mahmud slams Mustafizur for shunning Test duties

Khaled Mahmud, the Bangladesh team director, feels Mustafizur Rahman should not have been allowed to pick and choose the formats he wished to play, as it has led to a fast-bowling vacuum in the Test side. Mustafizur is currently playing in the IPL for Delhi Capitals, having taken eight wickets in as many matches this season.

Ahead of this year’s IPL, the BCB gave Mustafizur the clearance to play in the tournament even when Bangladesh were playing Tests in South Africa.

It wasn’t a topic of particular interest at the time because Bangladesh had already won the ODI series, and they still had Taskin Ahmed and Shoriful Islam around. While there has been debate about who decides on the format, the BCB president Nazmul Hassan has been saying since mid-2021 that the centrally contracted Bangladesh players will be allowed to pick and choose their formats, regardless of their experience.

It started as a verbal promise last year, and the players have since signed the 2022 contracts by providing their choice of format in some cases. Mustafizur was given the IPL No Objection Certificate (NOC) this season after the Bangladesh selectors didn’t pick him in the squads for the South Africa and Sri Lanka Tests. Mustafizur has not played a Test since February last year, having taken just four wickets in the last four years.

“(BCB president Nazmul Hassan) Papon bhai said that the players can discuss which format they want to play but this was only applicable to the senior players, not all players,” Mahmud said in a press briefing at the Shere Bangla National Stadium on Saturday.

“Would it be okay if (Mahmudul Hasan) Joy said that he doesn’t want to play Tests? How old is Mustafiz? How long has he been playing for? He is not Shakib, Tamim, Mashrafe or Mushfiq. These players have provided service for many years. I don’t know why Mustafiz doesn’t want to play Tests. The board should decide which format a player plays.

“Shakib and Tamim are 34-35 years old. They deserve breaks. But Litton Das doesn’t need breaks. When he becomes Shakib or Tamim, I will say that he deserves rest. Mustafiz must play Tests. It is his peak time. I am not saying he should play all the Tests but he should definitely be available for six to eight matches per year. I used to hear that he doesn’t want to play due to bio-bubbles, but now things have changed so that can’t be an excuse anymore. If Taskin and Shoriful can play (Tests), he should too.”

Capitals are currently just outside the top four with four games remaining in the league stage, so Mustafizur will be available for them till May 21 at the very least. There’s still no movement from the BCB or the selectors to bring him into the Test side, but Mahmud said that with Taskin Ahmed already out of the Sri Lanka series due to a shoulder injury and Shoriful Islam’s availability still subject to a fitness test, the home side are missing out on their best bowler, regardless of the format.

“With Taskin injured, one of our main bowlers is out. Shoriful could be injured any time soon. Both Taskin and Shoriful are injury-prone bowlers. In that case we need Mustafiz who, when you consider his experience, skills, technique and tactics, is Bangladesh’s best fast bowler. Mustafiz would have provided balance to the side.

“There’s a lot of cricket in the three formats so everyone needs time off. Taskin and Shoriful also deserve rest. When we have enough bowlers, we probably won’t need Mustafiz in this format but till then he should provide support. He is dangerous in white-ball cricket but I also know that he can be a handful with the red ball too.”

Mahmud came down strongly on Mustafizur’s commitment towards red-ball cricket and Bangladesh, but also felt that someone should have gotten in touch with him to clarify the situation.

“He might get two or four crores in the IPL, but isn’t cricket bigger than the money? Isn’t the country bigger than money? We never played for money. Now a cricketer needs the BCB’s help when he is dying. (Mustafizur) won’t need the BCB (in that situation). They can themselves help others (financially). Why won’t I want to play for Bangladesh?

“Cricket board means Mustafiz, and Mustafiz means the cricket board. They are both in the same place. There’s no distance. Maybe nobody spoke to him.”

Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo’s Bangladesh correspondent. @isam84

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