Bangladesh bowling coach Ottis Gibson has urged Mashrafe Mortaza to retire from international cricket as he doesn't see the bowler in head coach Russell Domingo's plans for the 2023 World Cup. Mortaza, who stepped down from captaincy during Bangladesh's last home series, against Zimbabwe in February, hasn't made any announcements about retirement despite being constantly questioned about it since December 2018.
Gibson, who joined Bangladesh in January this year, said that Domingo has to look at several younger bowlers to build a team in the next three years, which would mean having to look beyond Mortaza. Gibson suggested that Mortaza, Bangladesh's leading ODI wicket-taker, can advise the young fast bowlers in a different capacity.
"I think he has had an outstanding international career," Gibson told the Bengali daily Prothom Alo on Monday. "He has done himself and his country proud. With the next World Cup in 2023, any international coach will now start to build a team. I am quite sure that's what Russell will be thinking. So he would want to see players like young Hasan Mahmud, [Mohammad] Saifuddin, Shafiul [Islam] and Ebadot [Hossain]. We haven't seen Ebadot in white-ball cricket yet. There's Taskin [Ahmed] and Khaled [Ahmed] gets fit again. We have Hasan and [Mehedi Hasan] Rana. So there's a lot of young cricketers in the country.
"I think if Russell is now trying to build a team for the future, then I don't know what part Mashrafe will have to play in that. Perhaps now is his time, with all that's going on in the world, to move on. He can find other ways to pass on his vast knowledge and experience to the young guys. I don't think he has to be on the field to be able to pass on what he has learned over his career. He needs to find other ways to pass on that message."
This is the first time a coaching staff member has explicitly asked Mortaza to retire from ODIs, the only format he plays currently. Mortaza is currently on 269 international wickets from 218 matches. Despite his long absences due to mostly leg injuries in the first 10 years of his career, he has only missed five ODIs in the last five years, two of them to over-rate suspension. However, he only took one wicket in the 2019 World Cup, which brought into question his place in the team, notwithstanding his new role as a member of parliament after the 2019 general elections.
Gibson said he is pinning his hopes on 20-year-old quick Mahmud who recently made his T20I debut against Zimbabwe, after impressing in domestic and A team competitions.
"I have really been impressed with Ebadot who can clock 140kph," Gibson said. "There's Taskin who is still there. I have had some time to chat with him. He is still hungry to get involved. Khaled has been injured for a while.
"Young Hasan Mahmud has really impressed me too. I have a lot of faith on him. He can really break through and become a top international Bangladeshi fast bowler. I have high hopes from him. He is very hungry to learn. He has a fantastic action that can only get better, so it will be interesting to see how he goes over the next few years."
Gibson, however, said the attitude towards pace bowling has to change in Bangladesh, if they are expected to do well at home or overseas. "The bowlers genuinely have a lot of skill but they lack in experience. They only get one spell in domestic cricket. Even if they pick two fast bowlers, the captain generally tends to go to the spinners if there's a crisis. The fast bowlers never really get to bowl in pressure situations.
"It is a very different story when we go abroad. We are relying on the fast bowlers to do the job away from home but they lack in experience in closing out games, even back home in domestic cricket. We must look at the way we play domestic cricket."