Captain or puppet?

Azad Majumder . Chittagong | Published: 00:05, Sep 09,2017

 
 

Bangladesh captain Mushfiqur Rahim reacts after scoring a half century against Australia on the first day of their second Test in Chittagong on Monday. — AFP photo

Mushfiqur Rahim is leading Bangladesh Test team for six years since the home series against West Indies in 2011, which has made him senior most Test captain in the world cricket at the moment.
But after a crushing defeat against Australia in Chittagong it has become a hot topic for discussion if he can assert the same authorities as the other Test captains do in the world.
From deciding the batting order to fielding change, coach Chandika Hathurusinghe pulled the strings behind the scene, making him more or less a puppet captain with little responsibilities apart from carrying some instructions.
Mushfiq’s self-respect also came under question after he publicly denied his role in sending Mominul Haque at number eight in the second innings of the Test match.
It was apparent Hathurusinghe did not want Mushfiq to play a role on many things when he took Sakib al Hasan to the field with him during a rain-break on the third day in Chittagong.
While Sakib not even the vice-captain of the side, Hathurusinghe made no hesitation to show him where to set the field once Australia would resume their batting from a strong position of 225-2.
It was, however, not for the first time that the former Sri Lankan Test opener ignored Mushfiq, despite him being Bangladesh’s longest serving and most successful captain.
During the 108-run win over England in Dhaka last year, vice-captain Tamim Iqbal was seen setting the fielding in an entire session despite the presence of Mushfiq on the field.
Mushfiq was unable to summon his courage to protest against such move, which not only damaged his personal dignity, but reportedly also reduced the confidence of other players, especially the younger ones, in their captain.
While in world cricket captain usually calls the shots in many issues ranging from the nature of pitch to the number of overs a bowler should be used Mushfiq seems to have no say in the matters.
He could not even decide his own role in the team, as admitted by the wicketkeeper-batsman in the post match press conference, when he made himself available for the job of 12th man.
He was stripped of wicketkeeping duty in the first Test against Sri Lanka against his wish but he could do nothing the stop the move. He returned to the role in the next match after an injury of his understudy Liton Das and did an excellent job since.
However, his return behind the stumps behind the stumps made his batting position uncertain and Mushfiq admitted he has no control in the matter.
‘It is not up to me,’ Mushfiq said in Chittagong on Thursday. ‘It was not my decision not to keep wickets in Sri Lanka.
‘I don’t have any problem keeping wickets. I want to contribute to the team in any way possible for as long as I play. It doesn’t matter if I am not the captain or the keeper. I will give my all if I am told to be the 12th man.
‘I will do as the team management says. You better ask this question to the higher authorities. It would also clear me,’ said Mushfiq.
Mushfiq’s utterance raised a fundamental question, who are the team management then or whom he had referred higher authorities to make a call about the team affairs.
Selectors clearly distanced themselves from these matters and in the case of Australia series manage Sabbir Khan, an employee of Bangladesh Cricket Board, held no such authorities.
BCB president Nazmul Hasan sometimes made few calls though it was never his job. It left Hathurusinghe as the lone member of team-management with the captain acting only as a puppet.

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