The sight of Mushfiqur Rahim walking towards the press conference area for the post-day press meet was a bit of a shock, and by the time it ended it was evident that all was not well in the Bangladesh dressing room. Usually the captains take the microphone on the day before the Test and once the match has finished. The intervening days are normally left to the best performers of the day and yesterday, with two wickets, it could well have been Subhasish Roy in Bangladesh’s woeful concession of 428 for three after choosing to field first.
That Mushfiqur, not often chomping at the bit to face up to the media, chose to take the questions meant that he had something to say, which for a second cast the mind uncomfortably back to Bulawayo 2013 when he announced that he would relinquish captaincy after an ODI series loss.
It was not as drastic as that yesterday, but there was something he evidently had to get off his chest. Over the first two sessions, while his bowlers were being hammered from pillar to post, he spent much of the time observing proceedings from the boundary and not guiding his bowlers. When asked why, he replied: “I want to make something clear: I am not a good fielder. The coaches wanted me to field in the deep because they feel I give away runs or drop catches in the infield. I tried to abide by their instructions. You have to do what the team management tells you to do. I tried to field in the deep but whenever I was in the infield, I tried to speak to the bowlers.”
Taken at face value, Mushfiqur’s reply means that someone among the coaching staff or in the team management is pressuring Mushfiqur about his fielding now that, because of team combination considerations, the captain has given the wicketkeeping gloves to Liton Das. That speaks to discord between the captain and management/coaching staff, always a sign of trouble that often leads to some kind of drastic action especially when the team is not doing well. Mashrafe Bin Mortaza’s T20I retirement had similar undertones, but the team were at the end of a largely successful tour of Sri Lanka by then.
And if that is the case, it does not say anything positive about Mushfiqur that as captain of the team, he would take things discussed in a dressing room so much to heart as to relinquish the reins for stretches of a day when his team were faring poorly.
That answer seemed to darken the mood of the presser. Before that Mushfiqur had answered with humour of a philosophical bent when queried on his decision to field again, after a similar decision had started the chain of events that led to a 333-run loss in the first Test.
“I think it was my mistake to win the toss. I have been trying to do everything honestly for the last 12 years. But in these last two games it seems it’d been better had I lost the toss,” he said with a smile.
But even in good humour there were some echoes of that day in Bulawayo in the way he blamed himself for the bad results and expressed his frustration.
“It could be my failure. Maybe I wasn’t able to give them the message properly. The bowling coach [Courtney Walsh] can’t go and do it himself. He bowls in the nets everyday but we still can’t work him to mid-on or mid-off,” he said when asked about the bowling. “I thought it was a good wicket to bowl on but our bowlers didn’t capitalise. We leaked a lot of runs in the first session. When it was up, they knocked the ball straight down the ground.”