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BCB hope for Mashrafe's return as leadership crisis looms

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The Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) will formally request Mashrafe Mortaza to return to T20 internationals following his retirement from the format last year. The request will be made as BCB prepare to name a squad for the tri-series in Sri Lanka – which will involve India – that begins in March.

Mashrafe took 15 wickets at 24.73 in the 2017 edition of the Bangladesh Premier League (BPL) as he led Rangpur Riders to their maiden BPL title. His economy of 6.74 was the best in the competition. BCB president Nazmul Hassan said the decision about returning to T20Is is up to Mashrafe, who still captains the ODI squad. He last played a Test in 2009.

“We have talked about it in today’s meeting,” Hassan said. “It also depends on Mashrafe. Everyone has told me that he will listen to me. I can’t put him under pressure. I can tell him if he agrees. I had mildly told him to play the last T20 series. He told me he wants to play Tests, not T20s. There’s no doubt that he is our best new-ball bowler.”

With Shakib Al Hasan expected to return from injury and resume captaincy duties in Sri Lanka, Mashrafe is likely to play only as a bowler if he decides to return, but that will be precious to a Bangladesh bowling line-up that has struggled for form recently.

With the BCB still unable to find a new head coach following Chandika Hathurusingha’s exit, he will certainly be adding to the leadership vacuum in the senior team’s setup which has seemingly irked Hassan.

“Your strategy – type of pitch and the squad – is shaped by the opposition. There will be problems if you are not sure about those things; you start listening to what everyone has to say and don’t show leadership. I want to make it very clear that I am not belittling anyone, however it is also very clear that we need a coach. [Chandika] Hathurusingha was a good coach, but he isn’t the only one. There are many like him who can reorganise this team and bring back the good times,” he said.

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Hassan said that the team had looked rudderless in the last few weeks. “I had seen them work with a plan for the last four years but it was missing this time. I just felt that they were lacking in planning, strategy, mental strength and teamwork. So our immediate need is a high-quality coach. [The team] needed someone over them. What we had, was not enough. If it was enough, then this team wouldn’t have changed so much. It didn’t seem like the Bangladesh team of old,” he said.

Hassan said that there had been much confusion within the management that nobody knew the playing XI even two hours before the first T20 against Sri Lanka on February 15.

“It wasn’t possible for me to see this. I could have returned to Dhaka five days earlier. The day before the first T20I, nobody could tell me the team. They couldn’t even tell me at 3 pm, and the match was about to start from 5 pm. I was speechless. I cancelled my return. I kept my word that I will let them [senior players and team management] play their way, but now we can’t sit quietly,” he said.

When asked about technical director Khaled Mahmud’s recent remark about the “dirty environment” surrounding the Bangladesh team, Hassan said that Mahmud needed to ensure a better performance.

“It was his personal opinion. He didn’t tell me anything about it. Like everyone, he gave his best in the position but it wasn’t enough. We needed a much better performance,” he said.

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