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Bangladesh v India, 2nd Test, Dhaka, 3rd day

Bashar gives up one-day captaincy

Sidharth Monga in Dhaka

May 27, 2007

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Habibul Bashar - down, but certainly not out just yet © AFP
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Habibul Bashar, the Bangladesh captain, has announced that he will step down as skipper of the one-day team with immediate effect. Speaking to the media after Bangladesh slumped to an innings defeat to India, Bashar said that he would still be available for selection as a player, but would not continue to lead the team.

Even though Mohammad Ashraful and Mashrafe Mortaza took some of the gloom off with defiant and flamboyant half-centuries, the fact remained that Bangladesh still needed to go a long way before they could start competing with the big teams in the Test arena. The future of their captain and coach is unsure in these times. The duo, on their part, cleared their stands, though.

Habibul Bashar, awfully out of sorts with the bat, has time and again received calls to step down. He agreed that the pressure has got to him, thought a lot about his future and quit as one-day captain. Bashar said that he still believed he could contribute to the team as a batsman.

Despite heavy criticism, there are certain people in Bangladesh cricket who feel that the extremely young Bangladeshi team still need his experience. His bat may not have produced runs in the recent past, but his contributions to Bangladesh cricket have been immense. One of those supporters is the outgoing coach, Dav Whatmore.

"No batsman means to not score runs; Habibul doesn't either," Whatmore said. "Habibul has been Bangladesh's best player in Test history."

Whatmore himself is on the way out. He now goes home to Australia, reunites with his family, and awaits the Indian board's decision whether to appoint him coach or not. "My contract [with Bangladesh] ends on June 1. Then I need to recharge my batteries," he said. "There may be another challenge not far away. That will remain the decision of the employer."

It has in some ways been a pity that instead of celebrating his last few days with the Bangladesh team, who achieved a lot during his tenure, the journalists have been concentrated more on his future. But Whatmore will take away fond memories. "Lots of interesting things happened on the way," Whatmore said, "Beating some of the big teams was special. Progressing in the World Cup was a big effort."

"You wish you could do better in the matter of the individuals becoming better players. One or two players who were dropped, I thought, could have done better," said, when asked if he had any regrets. "I would have loved Ashraful to develop more in the four years. His best cricket is surely yet to come. And his consistency will improve as he gets older, but [he has not come along] quite the way I would have loved him to have."

All that's gone now, and there's nothing either Whatmore or Bashar can do about it. What they can do is wait on the verdict on their professional futures, which coincidentally, for both of them comes on June 4.

Sidharth Monga is a staff writer with Cricinfo Magazine

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