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Mushfiqur: Criteria should be fitness and performance, not age

"Didn't you say before [the BPL] that Barishal is the 'team of the old'?" Mushfiqur hits back after they make the final

Mohammad Isam
Mohammad Isam
Mushfiqur Rahim is among the top five run-getters this BPL  •  BCB

Mushfiqur Rahim is among the top five run-getters this BPL  •  BCB

Mushfiqur Rahim has hit back at the criticism of Bangladesh's senior cricketers, saying great team performances in T20 cricket require experienced hands as much they do the fearlessness of youth.
Mushfiqur, 36, pointed towards the success of Fortune Barishal, who beat Rangpur Riders in the second Qualifier on Wednesday to make it to the final of BPL 2024. Apart from Mushfiqur (36), Barishal have two more players older than 35: Mahmudullah (37) and Shoaib Malik (41). All three have chipped in with important contributions during the season.
"Didn't you say before the tournament that Barishal is the 'team of the old'?" Mushfiqur said. "Didn't you say that T20s can't be won with experience? I think this is a wrong concept. You need experience in every format. New players will come, the older ones will go, but they will combine well to build the team. We want to leave a legacy, and we want the likes of [Towhid] Hridoy and Tamim [Tanzid Hasan] to leave a legacy when they become senior players [for Bangladesh]. It is supposed to be smooth sailing."
Mushfiqur made a call for fitness and performance to be given preference over age when considering players.
"It [the criticism] doesn't motivate me," he said. "It hurts me. I can guarantee you that I am better than most players in terms of fitness. I can write it down. More than age, I think the criteria should be fitness and performance. Age is just a number."
All three matches between Barishal and Rangpur this season were billed as Shakib Al Hasan vs Tamim Iqbal battles, with crowds booing both players on several occasions. The pair's differences first came to light last year when BCB president Nazmul Hassan said Shakib and Tamim were not on speaking terms. When Tamim retired, unretired and then resigned from ODI captaincy, Shakib slammed Tamim in a TV interview.
They both deserved better, Mushfiqur said. "To be honest, if the limelight is on the two players, then the rest of us can relax. They will have their 'war', and we will watch. They are both legends. They have given a lot to Bangladesh cricket. This 'bhua bhua' [a form of booing in Bengali] chant, if they have to hear it, the rest of us should be buried in the ground."
Mushfiqur also added that he was pleased with Bangladeshi players dominating the BPL batting and bowling charts.
"It is a positive sign. The top five run-getters and [four of the top five] wicket-takers are all from Bangladesh. Such consistency doesn't happen by chance. If we can deliver in crunch moments, it means we have cool nerves. Such a thing is helpful for the cricketer and his team."

Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent. @isam84