Mashrafe named ODI captain, Mushfiqur stays Test captain
Mashrafe Mortaza will lead the Bangladesh ODI side in the five-match series against Zimbabwe from November 21. Mushfiqur Rahim remains the Test captain but only for the upcoming series, which effectively means his reign as captain has been terminated by the Bangladesh Cricket Board. Mushfiqur's term was to go on until the 2015 World Cup when he was retained as captain in November 2013.
Shakib Al Hasan has been named Mashrafe's deputy, while Tamim Iqbal will be vice-captain in Tests. Bangladesh will have split captaincy for the first time and the three new appointments create a larger leadership group, with the team's four most experienced cricketers involved.
"The board has decided to appoint Mashrafe Mortaza as ODI captain for the Zimbabwe series," BCB president Nazmul Hassan said. "His deputy will be Shakib Al Hasan. Mushfiqur Rahim will remain as Test captain, with Tamim Iqbal being his vice-captain. Before we announced the new captain, the board has spoken to Mushfiqur, who was not negative about any of this.
"What we decide for the future will depend on what happens in the Zimbabwe series. This [split captaincy] is an experiment before we take a final decision on the World Cup. Prior to their departure for the Asian Games, I spoke to Mashrafe, Shakib and Tamim. They know of their responsibilities, but I reminded them that they are senior cricketers and our best players. Everything that they do - their attitude and behaviour - is linked to the team spirit."
Shakib assumes a position of greater responsibility for the first time since being sacked as captain in 2011. Tamim was made vice-captain for the Sri Lanka tour at the start of 2014, but it was Mashrafe who was made stop-gap T20 captain when Mushfiqur got injured in the Test series. There had been tension in the Bangladesh camp, after which Tamim stepped down from the vice-captain's role.
The decision to release Mushfiqur from ODI captaincy was made to help preserve his batting form. He is Bangladesh's highest run-scorer in fifty-over cricket this year, with 491 runs at an average of 44.63 with a hundred and four fifties. As captain, Mushfiqur averages 34.35 with the bat, while his career average is 28.26.
In Tests during the same period, he is second only to Mominul Haque, with 274 runs at an average of 45.66, including a hundred and a fifty. Mushfiqur's average as captain is 44.50 while his overall average is 33.60.
"We considered Mushfiqur's form as a batsman as one of the major reasons to relieve him of the ODI captaincy. He is batting very well, and he can improve even more. So to captain the team, keep wicket and bat in this manner must be very difficult.
"He will remain as Test captain in the Zimbabwe series, and see how he performs. We believe of seeing a positive outcome of this decision in the Zimbabwe series," said Hassan.
Bangladesh have endured a string of 13 ODIs without a win this year, all under Mushfiqur, and that has raised the most questions about his leadership qualities. Till the end of 2013, he had won 11 out of 24 matches. But losing a tight series to Sri Lanka, the Asia Cup blunders against Afghanistan and Pakistan, an embarrassing loss to Hong Kong in the World T20 and the latest drubbing in West Indies have contributed to this BCB decision.
Hassan also clarified the board's position on Shakib, who they banned for six months in July due to "serious misbehavior." But the penalty period was later reduced to three months.
"There was a misunderstanding among people who are not related to cricket that the board had a problem with Shakib. We only had a problem with his behaviour. We believe he is improving, but we will keep an eye on him whether he is a regular member of the side or a vice-captain. He has to keep this in mind. I hope he will uphold the faith and belief that we have placed on him.
Shakib also finds himself to a similar position as in 2009-10 season, when Mashrafe's injuries put him in charge.
"Mashrafe is injury prone so he won't feel let down if we change the captain. When I told him about taking over the one-day team, he offered to be the vice-captain. He will give the same effort if he is not the captain. If he is fit, he will be the captain, but if he injured, the vice-captain will take over," Hassan said.
Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent. @isam84