Having returned from injury and surgery after eleven months, he has taken four wickets and bowled seven tight spells in the Asia Cup, but what Mashrafe Bin Mortaza brings to the Bangladesh dressing-room as a cricketer is more than just wickets or the confidence of a brave cricketer.
“If Mashrafe bhai is in the team, whether he is playing or not, he is the kind of person who can lift a team’s morale just by his presence,” says skipper Mushfiqur Rahim. “He always helps us and guides us.”
After bowling his heart out in the crucial third and final league game on Tuesday, Mashrafe should have been pleased with his effort; bowling with economy and ending up with at least a wicket on a flat track. But the Narail Express was asked to share his thoughts with the team and from one corner of the huddle, his words spelled assurance.
“It is always Riyad bhai, Shakib or I who talk, so yesterday we asked him [Mashrafe] to say something, which he wanted to say on his own after the innings.
“We would normally go back to the dressing-room and have the talk but he wanted to say it on the field to underline the importance of the match.
“He said that this kind of opportunity does not come often, so we should grab it. And he said that 230 is not a difficult chase but nor is it easy, so we should play our natural game,” narrated Mushfiqur.
Imrul Kayes, restricted to the sidelines despite his return to form, also finds Mashrafe as an important figure in the Bangladesh dressing-room. “He fosters a friendly atmosphere. He makes sure everyone is talking and involved. He is everyone’s friend, no matter who it is in the team,” he said.
“The national team also missed his services as a fast bowler, one must remember. He is a very incisive bowler and gives the team a good start,” added Imrul.
Man’s cricket, as Imrul has said, shouldn’t be forgotten but the dressing-room these days is about much more that a player can bring to the field. For Mashrafe, his pragmatism and ability to connect with everyone is involuntary, he can’t help it.
-With The Daily Star input