All the talk has centred on the Mashrafe Bin Mortaza question and there seems to be no end to speculations ahead of today’s World Cup squad announcement.
The three-member selection panel again sat with the technical committee last evening to deliberate the issue, but the feeling among many (including those who matter) was that the door is all but shut for the paceman.
Mashrafe bowled off a few steps in the nets for almost 30 minutes at the Academy ground and while this was surprising to the media, who got the impression that he would not be bowling until early February, the coaching staff was quite aware that this was how it was going to pan out.
“He [Mashrafe] is on track with his rehab. He was supposed to bowl today, bowl off a full run-up at the end of the month in eight to ten days,” explained head coach Jamie Siddons after yesterday’s training session in Mirpur.
“We definitely want him to be fit. If the selectors don’t pick him and if he’s fit by the first match, we can use him as a replacement in the World Cup,” he said.
Mashrafe was the only talking point in an otherwise quiet net session but it is clear that the Narail Express is desperate to play his third World Cup.
“He has responded well and there were no negative repercussions after his bowling stint,” said team physio Michael Henry, adding that everything is going according to plan and at the start of February, the paceman will begin bowling off his long run-up.
But Siddons was clear that he wants a fit Mashrafe, though the timing of the injury and the proximity to the selection deadline are going against him.
“There are a few good reasons for him to bowl. I expect him to be fit by the start of the World Cup. I want him in the team, I want a fit Mashrafe. [It is a] really unfortunate timing. We are not going to play more than two fast bowlers here in this country,” said the Australian coach.
Bowling coach Ian Pont, who was also excited with the prospect of the announcement, said that he didn’t actually see Mashrafe train in the nets.
“I didn’t see him bowl. He turned his arm over for four overs. I think he is walking around okay. He also had a hit in the nets and fielded with Julien Fountain,” said Pont.