Sunday 25, September 2022

Muminul let off captaincy in Test

News Desk: In a normal cricket culture, this would not be an issue. Especially when a Test captain wants to resign, it is the captain who asks for the decision to be either made public or makes the announcement himself, preferably in a press conference in an official setting.

What usually never happens is that a squad is named with a designated Test captain before an important series and then a saga begins about whether he will remain in the hot seat. However, such unprecedented events have become a regularity in Bangladesh cricket as Test skipper Mominul Haque said yesterday that he had decided to step down from captaincy to focus on his batting.

Mominul Haque was thrust into the hot seat after Shakib Al Hasan, the then Test captain, was banned by the ICC for breaching ICC Anti-Corruption Code.

His Test captaincy stint began with three innings defeat and there have been five overall during his 17 games in charge. The win over New Zealand at Mount Maunganui earlier this year remains not only the high-point of his Test captaincy, but Bangladesh cricket's too. Bar that, there have been just two other wins, both coming against Zimbabwe.

“I like the fact that Shakib is a straightforward guy. I know what he wants. The only thing that I don’t know is when he will call and say, ‘I won’t play’. The only problem with Shakib is that he says at the last moment that he won’t be a part of a tour or a series. But if he is to become the next Test captain, he cannot do any such thing. There is no other problem with Shakib.” Nazmul Hassan Papon, BCB president

But the ratio of success to failure does not speak to the challenge Mominul had to face. Mominul had to deal with key absences of regular stars such as Shakib and Tamim Iqbal while trying to perform as a captain throughout his tenure.

Pandemonium was created after several officials from the board remarked about the problems encircling Mominul the batsman and the problem it created in terms of him being able to lead the side. BCB president Nazmul Hassan Papon yesterday told The Daily Star that the board had no plans to take away Mominul's captaincy.

But at the end of a pivotal meeting in the evening with the BCB president, Mominul informed the media that he had decided to step down.

"When you are playing well, you can still motivate the team even if it doesn't bring a result. I feel that I am not being able to play well and the team is not getting results. It's a hard situation to captain the side in. I feel it's better not to do it [captaincy] right now. I feel that if I can focus on my batting, it would be better," Mominul remarked to the media following the meeting.

"The decision [about who will be the new captain] will be taken during a board meeting on June 2. I have informed them of my decision. He [Hassan] told me to continue but I don't want that anymore."

The BCB president had said that he intended to talk to Mominul about how the batter can find his form with the bat. However, the situation leaves a bad taste in the mouth. One BCB higher-up remarked to this newspaper that the environment "has not been healthy".

Mominul's batting average in his 17 games in charge was 31.44, compared to the Test average of 41.47 he maintained without captaincy. He accumulated just 24 runs in his last eight innings, which appeared to be the crux of the decision. His contributions as a Test batter are key, but that should be a separate issue altogether from the team's point of view, especially since he is the Test captain.

Questions remain about the instability that will hound the Test team only days ahead of their departure for a tour of the West Indies.

BCB president Papon told The Daily Star following the meeting that Mominul intended to leave the role as soon as possible.

"As he was not scoring runs, he said it was hard to lead the side. He told me it would be awkward for him if the board doesn't take a decision soon," the BCB president told this newspaper yesterday.

The talk of a potential successor is already in the air. Will Shakib now take over? "We can decide day after tomorrow on the replacement. We have to also talk to the player first before we hand him the captaincy."

Asked if he was being preferred, he remarked: "We have to know what he's planning. You can make him captain of any of the formats but he has not always been available. As captain, he will have to play and he won't be able to pick and choose. We wanted to linger on the decision [regarding captaincy] until after the West Indies series but hearing Mominul, it appears he wants to step down now. I told him [Mominul] that we have to see how things are and we will let you know. We will sit down and take a decision day after tomorrow on whether Mominul will be staying on in his role and for how long but he will be going to West Indies as a player."


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