Inside the Tiger’s Den

On the road for quite some time now, Bangladesh captain Mashrafe Bin Mortaza must have been a tired man. He returned to his Dhaka home yesterday only after leading the Tigers to yet another series win, in fact the fourth on the trot on home soil. During the process he led his side to 15 wins against five losses. So he deserved a long nap to put aside the tiredness. Then he thought the doze at his apartment would not be as relaxing, so he changed his mind and was planning a trip to his home town of Narail, the only place that can give him back the full freshness. Against the backdrop of these many little issues, Mashrafe thought yesterday would not be a perfect day to talk cricket with Bishwajit Roy when The Daily Star reporter contacted him upon his arrival in the capital from Chittagong on completion of the ODI series against South Africa. But at the reporter’s insistence, the pace bowler finally welcomed him and allotted fifteen minutes for him. And that is when Mashrafe started baring his soul. He spoke of things from captaining the Tigers, the fans’ madness towards the game and unbelievable successes of the team to future stars like Soumya Sarkar and Mustafizur Rahman and the real heroes of the country, the freedom fighters, and his 200-wicket feat during his more than an hour conversation. Mashrafe is not someone who will tell you things to please you; rather he always talks from his heart. And that’s the reason we felt to publish the below excerpts from the long tête-à-tête in his own words:
Since the Zimbabwe series I was so engrossed with cricket that I couldn’t even realize when any festivity was coming. After the match yesterday [Wednesday] I went out for sehri and fortunately one shop was open so I did some shopping for my two kids.
Oh! Such a hectic life. After third match, I am finally feeling that Eid is coming and I’m going to my sweet hometown [Narail]. Everyone has some kind of way to blow off steam. Some people like to go outside and visit places, but for me it’s by going home. It refreshes me completely and I feel reenergised.
If someone really understands the game then they will say that what happened to us over the past few months is outstanding. And from my perspective this is a huge achievement for Bangladesh cricket, especially the year 2015. For us, in terms of one-day cricket, the last eight months were like a dream, but we are the ones who realised that dream.
I feel Bangladesh cricket has reached such a stage that it’s time for us to move further forward. Although I still doubt how the normal people are taking this. If they keep on expecting wins then it will become very difficult for us because we still have a long way to go. We will now be playing T20Is one after another, which is always challenging for us, but before that there is an even bigger challenge; playing 4 Test matches against South Africa and Australia.
I said before the World Cup that if we could perform well then it would help us in our series after that, but I didn’t expect it to help us so much.
Honestly, a lot of people have criticised us saying that Tamim [Iqbal] keeps getting out, Soumya [Sarkar] is not making the most of his starts, but we toned everyone out. Out of 16 crore people if 5 crore are watching cricket, then 1 crore people will have the same opinion and the rest of the 4 crore will have different opinions. So if you try to listen to everyone you can never move forward. I feel that we understood what we had to do to play good cricket and we executed that. Tamim is still playing shots, Soumya is playing with freedom, the bowlers know where and when to attack. We did everything based on a system.
I never planned ahead for anything in my life — not for my exams, not when I had to buy clothes for an occasion — I always do things at the last moment. So when I got the captaincy, I kept doing what I always did. I never thought about success, failure, future or past. None of that bothered me.
I never expected that I will captain Bangladesh. There’s a reason behind saying that because when I started playing I always felt that there can be nothing better than playing for my country. I thought there’s no need to go further than that.
People are talking about my attacking captaincy. The thing is very simple to me. Recently I saw that things have become much easier for the batsmen. They have gotten into a habit of hitting shots. They never defend and both the wicket and format suit them. From what I have seen, the batsmen will play shots, but as long as I can stop them from taking singles it will create pressure. If you don’t allow them to rotate the strike then the batsmen are forced into taking risks. I always try to stay one step ahead of the batsmen.
I do what my instinct tells me to do. On Thursday I was told to bring in Mustafizur [Rahman] but I waited, because my gut-feeling was telling me to bring on [Mahmudullah] Riyad. I did that and he got a wicket with his first ball. So it’s mostly all instant decisions.
We’ve climbed from ninth to eighth to seventh [in the ICC ODI rankings] and we can keep moving forward. At least we should try and hold onto this spot for a while and then go up when the time is right. Cricket is all about ups and downs, but the main thing is to hold on to your position and be patient.
I would like to urge everyone not to get too excited. We should respect all teams we play. On the flipside don’t treat our defeats too harshly. Patience is very important in every aspect of life. I think the team that is developing now can put in more professional performances after 2 or 3 years.
Regarding my 200 wickets, if I did play 100 matches more then I might have been a more celebrated bowler. Perhaps everyone would have been more proud of me that I have taken 300 or 350 wickets. I believe I had that ability and longevity, but despite playing for Bangladesh for 14 years, I’ve lost 3-4 years to injury.
Let me shatter some illusions today. We are entertainers. We are not heroes. The heroes are our freedom fighters. We don’t sacrifice anything for the cause of the nation. The freedom fighters did. Don’t misunderstand me, cricket is not everything. What we try to do is to bring happiness to our nation.
We still have to prove many things. We have games in England, New Zealand and Australia. If we can win some matches there then I will say that we can beat any team anywhere. However, the beauty of this team is that none of the players are ever fully satisfied.
I can tell you right now Tamim will finish on 10,000 runs, Shakib 10,000 runs and 400 wickets, Mushfiq 10,000 runs, Mustafiz 400 one-day wickets and Soumya 10,000 runs. Bangladesh is the team that will produce the most world-class players in the next ten years, if the money-spinning T20 leagues don’t creep in.
I don’t know how long I can keep playing with this team. But I can assure you the moment I will understand my drive and willpower have decreased, I will call time.

-With The Daily Star input

Related News

Bangladesh wins final-over thriller in Brisbane

Sports Desk : dhakamirror.com Bangladesh got back on track in the Twenty20 World Cup on Sunday when they beat Zimbabwe in a thrilling last-ball win. Opener Najmul Shanto’s first half-century and Taskin Ahmed’s three wickets helped them win. Shanto’s 71 helped Bangladesh get to 150-7 at Brisbane Gabba ground in a game that came down ... Read more

Tigers can become very good T20 side in future: Sriram

Sports Desk : dhakamirror.com Despite their mixed fortunes in the ongoing T20 World Cup, Bangladesh’s technical consultant, Sridharan Sriram, believes the Tigers have the potential to become a very good T20 side in the future. The Tigers entered the tournament with their only win in the main draw of the 2007 Twenty20 World Cup against ... Read more

Tigers suffer their worst-ever loss in T20Is to SA

Batters surrender against their opponent Sports Desk : dhakamirror.com Bangladesh’s batting was no match for their counterpart South Africa, which led to a massive loss for the Tigers by 104 runs at the Sydney Cricket Ground today in the two teams’ second Super 12 fixture of the T20 World Cup. Chasing a daunting 206, Bangladesh ... Read more

Taskin leads Bangladesh to 9-run win over Netherlands

Sports Desk : dhakamirror.com Bangladesh began their T20 World Cup campaign on a high note today, defeating the Netherlands by 9 runs at the Bellerive Oval in Hobart. The Dutch were all out for 135 after 20 overs, in reply to Bangladesh’s 144 for eight after 20 overs. The result is historic from Bangladesh’s perspective ... Read more

Tamim to attend Brazil’s match against Serbia at FIFA WC

Sports Desk: dhakamirror.com Tamim Iqbal, captain of the Bangladesh ODI team, will attend the FIFA World Cup match between Brazil and Serbia. Tamim told The Daily Star he was gifted the tickets. Brazil plays Serbia on November 24 at Qatar’s Lusail Stadium. The FIFA World Cup attracts interest from around the world, and seeing Neymar ... Read more

Netherlands become Tigers’ first opponent

Sports Desk: dhakamirror.com Bangladesh may start analyzing the Netherlands after Group A qualification ended yesterday. The Tigers will face the Dutch on October 24 in Hobart. Despite losing by 16 runs against Sri Lanka, the Dutch are in the Super 12s as runners-up behind the Lankans after UAE beat Namibia by seven runs on Thursday. ... Read more

West Indies ousted, Ireland reaches Super 12

Sports Desk: dhakamirror.com Veteran opener Paul Stirling smashed an unbeaten 66 to propel Ireland into the Twenty20 World Cup Super 12 and eliminate two-time champions West Indies in a shocking upset on Friday. Gareth Delany took a career-best 3-16 to reduce the Caribbeans to 146-5 before the Irish reached their goal with 15 balls to ... Read more

Shakib reclaims the top all-rounder ranking

Sports Desk : dhakamirror.com Bangladesh captain Shakib Al Hasan will enter the ICC T20 World Cup on top of the world after he was elevated to the No.1 spot for all-rounders on the latest MRF Tyres ICC Men’s T20I Player Rankings. Shakib claimed top billing on the back of an excellent tri-series against New Zealand ... Read more

No more opening slot experiments: chief selector

Sports Desk : dhakamirror.com Bangladesh national cricket team chief selector Minhajul Abedin reassured that the team management wouldn’t experiment further with the opening slot during the ICC T20 World Cup in Australia. Bangladesh are scheduled to start their campaign in the Super 12 round on October 24 in Hobart against the Group A runners-up from ... Read more

Pakistan win tri-series final, sends T20 World Cup warning

Sports Desk : dhakamirror.com Mohammad Nawaz, an all-rounder, helped Pakistan defeat New Zealand by five wickets on Friday to win the tri-series Twenty20 final in Christchurch with three balls remaining. After the hosts finished on 163-7 at Hagley Oval, spinner Michael Bracewell checked Pakistan’s early momentum in the tourists’ reply, before Nawaz stepped up with ... Read more

Rain ends Bangladesh’s title defence

Sports Desk : dhakamirror.com Rain ended hosts Bangladesh’s chance of qualifying for the semi-final of the eighth Asia Cup as their match against the UAE was washed out in Sylhet on Tuesday. The wash-out meant Thailand moved to the semi-final for the first time in history with six points collected from as many matches earlier ... Read more

Bangladesh defeated by SL in thriller

Sports Desk : dhakamirror.com India and Sri Lanka advanced to the eighth Women’s Asia Cup semi-finals after defeating Thailand and the host Bangladesh, on a rain-hampered day in Sylhet on Monday. Pakistan joined them in the semi-final as well because both teams have eight points and are tied for second position with Sri Lanka. Bangladesh ... Read more

Conway leads New Zealand to victory against Bangladesh

Sports Desk : dhakamirror.com In the third game of the tri-nation series, played on Sunday in Christchurch, opening batsman Devon Conway led New Zealand to an eight-wicket victory over Bangladesh. The left-handed batter smashed six fours and a six as the hosts chased down Bangladesh’s total of 137 with 13 balls to spare, in the ... Read more

Bangladesh utterly defeated by India

Sports Desk : dhakamirror.com India recovered from a shocking loss to Pakistan to defeat hosts Bangladesh by 59 runs on Saturday in Sylhet, effectively securing a spot in the semifinals of the eighth Women’s Asia Cup. India has eight points after winning four of its last five games, with one more match to play in ... Read more

Tigers hope to improve against Kiwis

Sports Desk : dhakamirror.com When Bangladesh plays New Zealand in today’s second game of the ongoing tri-nation series in Christchurch, they will be trying to get back on track. The game will start at noon (12:00pm). The match will be broadcast live on T Sports and in Bangladesh Standard Time. Bangladesh, which lost to Pakistan ... Read more

Dona Ganguly diagnosed with chikungunya

Sports Desk : dhakamirror.com Dona Ganguly, wife of Sourav Ganguly, President of The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) was admitted to a private hospital in Kolkata on Tuesday after being diagnosed with chikungunya. As per reports, she was rushed to Woodlands hospital after showing symptoms of the virus. The acclaimed Indian Odissi ... Read more

Nepalese cricketer Sandeep Lamichhane is in custody for rape

Sports Desk : dhakamirror.com Sandeep Lamichhane, a former captain for Nepal, returned home on Thursday (October 6) to defend himself against rape allegations made against him about a month ago. Lamichhane, who has denied all the allegations, was immediately arrested, according to Dinesh Raj Mainali, a spokeswoman for Kathmandu District Police, spoke to AFP news ... Read more

Bangla Wash T20I tri-nation series logo unveiled

Sports Desk : dhakamirror.com The official logo of the Bangla Wash Twenty20 International tri-nation cricket series was unveiled in a ceremony held at a city hotel on Wednesday. Bangladesh, Pakistan and hosts New Zealand will compete in the series to be held at Christchurch from October 7 to 14. The title sponsor of the series ... Read more

Women’s team look to make turnaround

Sports Desk : dhakamirror.com Bangladesh national women’s team will be looking to move up in the order when they take on their Malaysian counterparts during their third match of the ongoing Women’s T20 Asia Cup at the Sylhet International Cricket Stadium today. The match is scheduled to start at 1:30pm and will be telecast live ... Read more

We are not thinking of results: Nurul

Sports Desk : dhakamirror.com Bangladesh vice-captain Nurul Hasan said that he was not concerned about the results, rather he was focusing on the process in the approaching tri-nation series starting in Christchurch on Friday. Bangladesh will take on Pakistan in the series opener at 8:00am Bangladesh Standard Time and T Sports will telecast the game ... Read more