England in Bangladesh 2009-10

Mortaza uncertain of Test future

Andrew Miller in Fatullah

February 25, 2010

Comments: 16 | Text size: A | A

Mashrafe Mortaza bowled an incisive spell with the new ball, New Zealand v Bangladesh, 1st Test, Dunedin, 2nd day, January 5, 2008
Mashrafe Mortaza has not played a Test since July last year © Getty Images

Mashrafe Mortaza, the most successful fast bowler in Bangladesh's Test history, believes that he too may be forced to follow the route chosen by the likes of Andrew Flintoff, Brett Lee and Shane Bond, and retire from Test cricket in order to preserve his injury-ravaged body for the shorter forms of the game.

After eight months on the sidelines, Mortaza has been named in a 13-man squad for the three one-dayers that get underway at Mirpur on Sunday, but he has already ruled himself out of contention for next month's Test series against England. He returned to competitive action for a Bangladesh Cricket Board XI in Fatullah on Thursday, his first appearance in national colours since breaking down during the tour of West Indies in July.

"It would be very hard to come back straightaway into Test cricket," Mortaza told Cricinfo. "It will take some time, and you can't make a decision on Test cricket just from playing in three one-dayers. In Test cricket you have to bowl 20-25 overs a day, and you have to be 100% at all times. It's always difficult and against England massively so. You first have to play some proper cricket, and I'll only be back when I feel good."

Mortaza, 26, has claimed 78 wickets in 36 Tests since 2001, and is second on Bangladesh's list of wicket-takers, behind the spinner Mohammad Rafique. He was one of his country's stand-out players on England's last tour in 2003, claiming four wickets in consecutive innings at Dhaka and Chittagong, but it was during the last rites of the series that he suffered one of the many knee injuries that has plagued his career ever since.

In total, Mortaza has undergone six knee reconstructions in the space of eight years, but his latest return to fitness followed arguably the most demoralising setback yet. In July 2009, he was handed the captaincy for Bangladesh's tour of the Caribbean to allow Mohammad Ashraful to concentrate on his batting. But he was able to bowl just 6.3 overs of their famous Test victory at Kingstown, his first match in charge, before collapsing in his followthrough on the second day of the game.

"It was tough when I got injured in that first Test," said Mortaza. "It was a very difficult moment for me to survive out there, but straightway afterwards I flew to Australia to have the situation explained by my doctor. It would have been a great honour to have led the side to victory, but you can't do anything when you get injured and the first priority has always been the team."

To that end, Mortaza has no interest in reclaiming the captaincy, especially given the manner in which Shakib has been leading from the front. "I'd like to give this opportunity to Shakib because he's doing well so far, and I'd like to play in his team," said Mortaza. "But also, I'm not playing both forms of cricket right now - I'm only looking to one-day cricket - and if I don't do both, then the captaincy and the relationship with the team is difficult."

Nevertheless, there's no denying Mortaza's enduring popularity. In an otherwise low-key contest at Fatullah, his reappearance was the highlight for an enthusiastic crowd, who reserved the loudest cheer of the day for the moment he walked out to bat with the BCB XI floundering on 76 for 6 in the 20th over. He soon departed for a third-ball duck, but he showed enough glimpses of form in his eight subsequent overs with the ball to suggest he's on the right track.

"To make a comeback after so long against international players is hard, but I felt good today," said Mortaza. "England are a very good team right now. They were playing good cricket in South Africa and against West Indies in England, and this is a great opportunity for me after injury to come back and play cricket. My pace is not yet at 100%, but my line and length is still there, so I was happy. I think I can get better than this, and hopefully I will."

The selectors saw enough in his performance at Fatullah to recall him to the one-day squad, even though his most recent limited-overs appearances came against Zimbabwe back in January 2009. He was given the all-clear on a recent visit to Melbourne by his surgeon, Dr David Young, following a double knee operation back in July, but his progress will have to be monitored carefully in a series as prominent as an England campaign.

But there is no realistic prospect of Mortaza appearing in the two Tests at Chittagong and Dhaka, and in the long-term, it could well be that his final five-day match was the one that got away from him at Kingstown. "I am not going to make a decision exactly now, but my only choice is to play one-day cricket and see how it's going," he said. "If everything is alright then I'll be back in Tests. But if not, I'll have to make a different decision."

Andrew Miller is UK editor of Cricinfo. Go to http://twitter.com/miller_cricket to follow him on Twitter through the England tour of Bangladesh.

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Posted by   on (February 27, 2010, 9:13 GMT)

He is still young and has time to come back. I expect to see him in tests again, Bangladesh need him. His bowling is very handy for them and he knows how to bat which is also a massive boon.


Posted by osee_bhai on (February 26, 2010, 20:36 GMT)

From what I remember he was really one of the best bangla players, on and off the field, hope he gradually makes his successful return to test cricket.

Posted by sawn on (February 26, 2010, 18:34 GMT)

Good Luck Mash!!!!! we've been missing u a lot!!!!!!!!

Posted by   on (February 26, 2010, 13:46 GMT)

Congratulation Masrafe .We miss you.

Posted by ian_whitchurch on (February 26, 2010, 12:00 GMT)

If you think Shahadat/Rajib/Sharapova has been bowling well, you watched a very differnt Hamilton test.

I wish Mortaza the best of a recovery, and hope he plays well in on day cricket. Me, I'd like him playing for the Tigers in Test cricket, but what happens, happens.

Posted by uglyhunK on (February 26, 2010, 11:26 GMT)

Jeezz !!!! He is 26 after all. Why is he even thinking about that. As if he's been playing test for over a decade. His goals are misplaced....

Posted by   on (February 26, 2010, 10:51 GMT)

mashrafee should not play test. because we want him to play as long as possible. if you too much you wont get anything. so mashrafee should concentrate in t20 and odi. bangladesh should have some especial player for 3 different games like aussies.

Posted by Greatminhaj on (February 26, 2010, 5:17 GMT)

I think Mashrafee will come back2da test side again.If not it will b a great loss 2 our team.To make da side stronger Mashraffe is must.All the best Mashrafee

Posted by bobagorof on (February 26, 2010, 1:52 GMT)

Fast bowling injury problems are nothing new - Ian Bishop struggled with injury throughout his career, Damien Fleming stopped playing Tests after a shoulder injury, etc. It would be a massive shame if Mortaza doesn't play Tests again - he's one of my favourite Bangladeshi cricketers. Hopefully he's like Shane Watson - injury plagued in his younger years but, with rehabilitation and regaining some confidence in his body, able to string some matches together as he matures.

Posted by   on (February 26, 2010, 1:10 GMT)

increasingly masrafi good come back.

Posted by   on (February 25, 2010, 20:13 GMT)

Just don't understand this worrying trend of fast bowlers being unable to play test cricket. It never happened before why now? On Mortaza himself I personally think he speaks rather impressively. Definitely sounds as though he has Bangladesh's best interests at heart, especially over the captaincy issue.

Posted by wallstreet on (February 25, 2010, 17:31 GMT)

May be t20 and some big money from this stuff has yorked another bowler...Mortaza need not worry about maintaining the shiny side of the red cherry anymore...Develop the art of slower ball mate...Trust me it suits you...

Posted by stocky699 on (February 25, 2010, 16:49 GMT)

Getting a bit sick of seeing stories like these now.

If you were a young fast bowler why even bother playing test cricket? Sad times :-(

Posted by manasvi_lingam on (February 25, 2010, 16:32 GMT)

It will be a loss for Bangladesh cricket if Mortaza can't play. They've got decent spinners and Shahadat Hossain is doing well along with Saiful Islam. If they had Mortaza the attack would have been a decent one. Now, they lack an experienced pace bowler to guide the rookies.

Posted by manasvi_lingam on (February 25, 2010, 16:29 GMT)

It will be a loss for Bangladesh cricket if Mortaza can't play. They've got decent spinners and Shahadat Hossain is doing well along with Saiful Islam. If they had Mortaza the attack would have been a decent one. Now, they lack an experienced pace bowler to guide the rookies.

Posted by   on (February 25, 2010, 16:27 GMT)

Well..Crazy Crazy Crazy...Make Money Quick...till stocks last.

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Andrew Miller Andrew Miller was saved from a life of drudgery in the City when his car caught fire on the way to an interview. He took this as a sign and fled to Pakistan where he witnessed England's historic victory in the twilight at Karachi (or thought he did, at any rate - it was too dark to tell). He then joined Wisden Online in 2001, and soon graduated from put-upon photocopier to a writer with a penchant for comment and cricket on the subcontinent. In addition to Pakistan, he has covered England tours in Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand, as well as the World Cup in the Caribbean in 2007
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