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May 9, 2013
Emotional outburst is now the accepted rationale of Mushfiqur Rahim's resignation from the Bangladesh captaincy but BCB president Nazmul Hassan has vowed to get to the bottom of this sudden decision, hinting that there were other contributing factors.
Mushfiqur's inability to control himself has been well known to those close to him, and given how easily Bangladesh went down to Zimbabwe in the ODI on Wednesday, it was enough for him to get riled and defeat to Zimbabwe would obviously lead to anger in the Bangladesh dressing-room.
There were far too many poor shots played by senior batsmen, including Mushfiqur, and the bowling was not efficient enough to defend 247 on Wednesday or 252 in the 2nd ODI. In general, there was a lack of hunger, noticeable in the players' body language.
There was, predictably, a lot of expectation on Bangladesh. A team that can beat West Indies and Sri Lanka would certainly be expected to win the subsequent series against Zimbabwe. Instead the pressure of expectation got to the players, some taking the contest too lightly while others, like Mushfiqur, visibly crumbled.
When he took over as captain in 2011, former Bangladesh national selector Faruque Ahmed, who picked Mushfiqur at the age of 16 to play the Lord's Test in 2005, pointed out only one blemish in Mushfiqur's make-up, saying: "He has difficulty handling matters when he doesn't do well himself." In essence, Faruque meant that when his batting or wicketkeeping sees bad days, he has a difficult time coming to terms with it.
At the time this was a minor factor as some argued that he was mature enough to keep a positive outlook in tough times. There was a short honeymoon period in his captaincy before losses to Pakistan at home, but over the last 12 months, Mushfiqur has led well and kept the team on an even keel.
But in Zimbabwe, his preparation was hampered by poorly organised practice sessions and trouble in the hotel. For someone who is very particular with preparation, these were important issues that needed to be taken care of. Then came the 335-run defeat in the first Test, after which Bangladesh recovered with a series-equalling win in the second Test. Mushfiqur led from the front, his 93 in the second innings being the clinching factor. But the 2-1 ODI series defeat ultimately became the trigger for his announcement.
He talked to BCB president Hassan on Wednesday night, but like he told his teammates and the media earlier, he did not elaborate on the "why" and "why now". Apparently he was sobbing as he talked to Hassan, who was critical of the time he chose to quit, especially as it was done while on tour and with two more matches left to play.
"Mushfiqur couldn't speak properly when I called him," Hassan said. "He was probably choking back tears. He just told me that he can't give proper leadership, and that there were issues with teamwork. We will investigate all of this when the team returns.
"But it wasn't smart to give up the captaincy while on tour. We will find out upon his return why he quit so suddenly. We need to find out what compelled him to take this decision, if there were any instigating factors. If we find anyone guilty of hampering our team's progress in any way, we will definitely take action."
Hassan said he will also talk to Mushfiqur about some of the shots the senior batsmen played. Throughout the three ODIs, there were ordinary dismissals from the top and middle-order batsmen that led to collapses but while they recovered through Nasir Hossain, Mahmudullah and one occasion Abdur Razzak, it was not enough in the second and third ODIs.
"We probably still don't know how to bat in such conditions," Hassan said. "But at the same time, the way some of the batsmen gave away their wickets at crucial times was just astonishing. I have told the management to investigate already, but I think it's best to talk to Mushfiqur directly."
The Bangladesh captaincy has changed hands quite frequently over the last decade, despite the cultural subtext that success was not always the defining factor. Since the team loses more often, the captains over the years have been expected to lead from the front. In his stint, Mushfiqur has done it well on the field, but this move will lose him a lot of goodwill.
If there were internal issues that prompted him to quit, Mushfiqur should have spoken to the players directly or gone through the cricket board. A defeat to Zimbabwe is unacceptable in Bangladesh, but this was no case to kick out the captain. It should have led to introspection, and now perhaps there will be, but with a lot of hue and cry.
Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent. He tweets hereFeeds: Mohammad Isam
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