O’ Captain, My Captain,
I took the privilege of using captain while mentioning you. The polite thing would have been to use Respected Mortaza, but that would just limit the scope of what I am trying to achieve.
You know, cricket is not just a sport in Bangladesh. Like India, cricket is viewed as a faith here. It is one of the very few things that unites an otherwise divided nation. No matter how much pain a loss causes us, we always find ourselves glued in front of the screen whenever Bangladesh take to the Cricket field.
However, our faith in the team was always erratic because of the inconsistencies that it displayed in the past. A lot of captains came and went, but they couldn’t do what you did.
The best all-rounder in the world wasn’t the best when it came to captaincy and Mushfiqur Rahim never really came out as an intimidating figure for the opposition.
But you, Mashrafe, you are something else.
Bangladesh has, since the last decade, produced some quality players. However, what they always lacked was a fiery leader—but in you, we found the tiger that roars its horde to glory.
When the youngsters needed a confidence boost, your hand found its way to their shoulders. When the players weren’t showing enough commitment on the field, you made sure that the sternness of your voice reached their ears.
When a wicket fell, the little child in you took over and celebrated with as much zeal as possible. And when Bangladesh won a game...oh my, what a sight it is to watch you then.
With your retirement from T20Is, who will put a hand on the youngsters’ shoulders and calm them during the pressure cooker situations that arise in T20 games? Who will bark at the players and show some tough love to keep them attentive? Who will celebrate like you do?
Nobody will because nobody can.
Nation before anything else—this has always been your motto. Seven major surgeries and yet you opt to come back and play for the nation. Despite fears that you might not be able to walk at all in later life, you come back to play again and again.
The pain is so much that it can be seen on your face whenever you run up to bowl; the knee braces can only hold back so much. For you, putting smiles on the faces of Bangladeshis always meant more than the pain that you suffered from.
When your 5 months old baby boy was admitted to the hospital, it would have been understandable for you to spend time with the family. But no, for you, the country always came first – and so you left with the squad for the 2015 World Cup.
The T20I format is one where Bangladesh still struggle to play with the consistency that they ooze in ODIs. If the last game against Sri Lanka was any indication, this Bangladesh team is a great one but needs a leader to urge them forward.
You see, we are humans and we all seek for what’s best for us even if it is at the expense of other people’s welfare. Hence, I am being selfish to say this, but it feels as though your retirement has come a little too early. However, you deserve some rest after all that you have done.
Right now, replacing Mashrafe the player might not be much of an issue given the talent pool that we have. But Mashrafe the captain? Scoffs. Never.
We can never replace the captain that you are, be it for your heart or your head. Your man-management skills are unparalleled. It is so good that people often overlook the fact that you are a great strategist who knows exactly what move to make next.
Such a perfect blend is a rarity. Such a perfect blend is unique. Such a perfect blend is Mashrafe Mortaza.
It is true that Sheikh Hasina is the Prime Minister of the country, but even she doesn’t hesitate to stand up on her feet and applaud the hero that Mashrafe is—you are her leader, too. The day you became captain of the Bangladesh Cricket team, you were no longer just Mashrafe Bin Mortaza, you became our captain—the whole nation’s leader.
And you will always be my captain. Our captain. Our leader.