Mushfiqur Rahim, as records say, is the most successful captain of Bangladesh national cricket team in the longer version of the game.
Under his captaincy, Tigers played 34 Tests matches and Bangladesh won on seven occasions, drew nine matches and lost 18 including the latest two losses against South Africa.
Musfiq himself said on Sunday left the matter of captaincy to the board, expressing his unwillingness to give up the leadership.
Seven Test victories under his captaincy can be put to a better context if it is mentioned that Bangladesh have won only 10 matches since their entry into Test cricket arena in 2000.
However, the wicketkeeper batsman's captaincy has come under serious question for the past few days, if not months.
There are rumours that the Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) is looking for a new Test captain to replace Mushfiq due to his ‘flawed’ decisions in the two Test matches against hosts South Africa.
Cricket pundits have expressed divided opinions on the role of Bangladesh’s most successful Test captain or whether to replace him.
Former chief selector and ex-captain of Bangladesh national cricket team, Faruq Ahmed, warned against raising such issue in the middle of a series.
“I don’t think this is proper time to discuss this topic [replacing Mushfiq as captain]. The team is now visiting another country [South Africa],” he said.
Lending his support to Mushfiq, Faruq also said, “There can be mistakes in a series. Each and every series will not bode well. But, my question is: can Mushfiq be held solely responsible for the team’s failure? Is the team management free of all responsibilities?”
“Everyone claims credit when the team plays well. But, only the captain and players bear liability when the team somehow performs poorly?”
Faruq said that the management has completely failed in this case. The former chief selector asked, “Is it a good practice that the team management has chosen his fielding position [Mushfiq said so in press conference after the first Test match against South Africa in this tour]? Then, the foremost person to hold responsible is the coach.”
He, however, criticised Mushfiqur Rahim for making the dressing room discussion public.
Another former captain of national cricket team, Raqibul Hasan, said, “Every captain has to stop at a time, so is Mushfiq. Team management may have thought that releasing the pressure of captaincy would make him a better performer.”
He, however, asked everyone to remember that Mushfiq is the most successful Test captain of Bangladesh history.
About possible next captain, Raqibul said, “Shakib Al Hasan is the most suitable alternative for Mushfiq as there is no other capable player among the youngsters crop.”
“He [Shakib] is a world-class performer. Teammates respect him a lot due to his performances. He is capable of leading from the front,” he added.
As a captain, Shakib, however, led Bangladesh in nine tests, recorded one win and eight losses.
Another former selector of national cricket team Atahar Ali Khan said, “Many people may think Shakib can replace Mushfiq as a captain. But for me, current vice-captain Tamim Iqbal is the most competent alternative to Mushfiq.”
“He [Tamim] is a very active player in the field and he is in the form of his life. Instead of waiting for something to happen he likes to force things happen in the field,” Atahar said.
The former selector also said, “He is an attacking batsman and likes to set fielding and bowling in the same attacking way. He is a bit more adventurous than Mushfiq and likes to lead from the front.”
Due to injury of regular captain Mushfiq, Tamim led Bangladesh side in a Test match against New Zealand in Christchurch in January. The team lost the match by nine wickets.
But, denouncing all opinions of replacing Mushfiq as Test captain, the first centurion of Bangladesh in Test cricket, Aminul Islam Bulbul said, “The decision would be suicidal.”
“Sacking the player, who has been performing as the captain of Test team and helped it secure wins over Australia, England and Sri Lanka, based on one series would be disastrous,” Aminul cautioned.
“Mushfiq’s wordings say he is under tremendous pressure and this is why he spoke out of emotion. The cricket board [BCB] needs to analyse his words and think, in which situation a player shares dressing room talks at a press conference.”
Alleging that the team management is interfering in the tasks of Mushfiq, Aminul Islam said, “A Test team captain needs to be all powerful, but is it happening in his case?”
“He is also a wicketkeeper and a very good batsman. All three tasks demand huge mental energy. It is a must [for a player like Mushfiq] to be free of mental pressure. I don’t think the team management is providing him with opportunity and comfort,” he added.
Expressing his astonishment over the decision of choosing to ball first in two Test matches against South Africa, Aminul said, “I don’t think Mushfiq took the decision alone.”
He, however, said Mushfiq could have shared his views, if he had any, with the team management as in the final analysis he has to bear all responsibilities for the team’s performance.
Lending his full support, Aminul, also the first captain of Bangladesh team in World Cup, said, “The decision to sack Mushfiq as Test captain might have a negative effect on his batting as well.”
“Let him and only him take the decision in this regard,” Aminul insisted.
Aminul acknowledges there are criticisms of Mushfiq’s style of captaincy. “[But] he has to take decisions considering the strength of the team. In answer to those who say he lacks aggressive temperament, I would say: is he free enough to be aggressive?
“Everyone needs to find answers to these questions before sacking Mushfiqur as Test captain whimsically,” Aminul stressed.
* This report is compiled from a few reports published in Prothom Alo Bangla online.