Mashrafe bin Mortaza has been the talk of the country, ever since his sudden announcement to retire from Twenty20 internationals. It was an emotional endeavor to meet him for a short while at his residence after his return from Sri Lanka.
Mashrafe has become the symbol of Bangladesh cricket for his amazing leadership qualities that has transformed a perennial losing side into a force to reckon with.
Under his guidance, Bangladesh who used to be known as the minnows of world cricket, not only humbled big names like India, Pakistan and South Africa with consecutive series wins but also earned respect from all the teams in the cricketing arena.
However, Mashrafe is venerated not only for his leadership qualities but also for his tenacity and never-say-die attitude.
The paceman underwent seven major operations on his legs and sometimes even has a limp while bowling. Yet his boundless willpower and determination helped him hold his head high while going forward to win numerous battles.
But it was a different Mashrafe, the man who could not be defeated by injuries, strongest opponents and involved in incidents on and off the field incidents on innumerable occasions, seemed helpless in the face of the most potent weapon – Love.
It was not the face of an inexorable warrior but that of a father whose face radiated with a content smile hearing the screams of his two children at his site when he reached his Mirpur residence.
It seemed not only R Premadasa Stadium in Colombo, where he announced his sudden retirement, but even the game cricket was in a different universe and it was hard being an observer to endure the divine emotion of a warrior in a complete different dominion.
The pace bowler who is considered to have nerves of steel when it comes to dealing with injuries, coming back stronger every time of his innumerable injuries seemed to lose for a moment when his housekeeper rushed to him and burst into tears while embracing him.
‘What can I do they love me too much,’ he told Cricwizz at the doorstep of his apartment.
It only coincided with a statement former national skipper and current selector Habibul Bashar said regarding the cricketer while analyzing his career.
‘You can have better player than him but there will be no one matching his character,’ said Bashar.
‘I am watching him since the beginning of his career till date and it’s amazing the way he handled himself both in lows and highs,’ said Bashar, who had been Mashrafe’s skipper in Tests at an early stage of his career.
So it was not difficult to digest when he started playing with his child in his drawing room after giving them their toys, a red car for his son Sahel and a doll box for his daughter Humayra.
Though he was lost in his own world for a few seconds he did not show any kind of grievance against the team management and BCB high-ups, who seemed to force him to retire from the shortest version.
According to media reports Mashrafe decided to retire from the Twenty20 international when he was asked to step down as captain in T20Is.
BCB president Nazmul Hasan announced it during a meeting with four senior cricketers ahead of the two-match Twenty20 series against Sri Lanka.
The plan was to set a new squad with 2020 World Cup in mind where there was no place for Mashrafe and it was tabled by none other than coach Chandika Hathurusinghe.
The three captain formula was good enough for the experienced campaigner to understand he is no longer required in the shortest format.
According to insiders he received some hostility from the coach since his arrival at Sri Lanka but was determined to fight it out till the last.
But when BCB president Nazmul expressed his mind he left with no other option but to call it a day as he knew there was no one around who would back him.
It was not the timing of the retirement by the 33-year old that is questioned but the manner in which BCB decided to make it happen. As by all means Mashrafe remained the most faithful servant of his country over the last 17 years.
‘I don’t want to stir any controversy,’ he said in a tone that was good enough to understand the amount of bloodshed that was going through his heart.
‘We should all work for the development of cricket in our country,’ he added only to summarize the entire episode that seemed to have gripped nation’s cricket fraternity in shame.
For Mashrafe it’s all about how you prepare to face the challenge and at present all his concentration lies on the upcoming Dhaka Premier League, traditional 50-over tournament.
It will give him the time in the middle to settle things down and make sure his focus back totally leaving behind all this disappointment.
‘Hope to see everyone in DPL,’ he said as kind of warning for others who is said to be more effective than him according to Hathurusinghe.
With the tri-nation in Ireland and Champions Trophy to follow, Tigers ODI skipper needs to fire on full cylinders in the DPL and he made it look like business as usual.
And it was seen on the face of an emotional father, who becomes emotional facing the love of his children. All of a sudden he transformed into a dogged warrior and the determination of his face indicated the gladiator still has many challenges to overcome.