A little over three months later, Bangladesh has just finished another Test match away from home. This time the Tigers suffered a thumping 332-run defeat at the hands of South Africa and lost the two-match series 0-2. Mominul and other Bangladesh batters surrendered against the Protea spinners. Mominul had his worst ever Test series with the bat, with only 13 runs from four innings.
His captaincy is also being criticised from all corners and many are blaming his defensive team selection, wrong decision after winning the toss in the first Test and indecisive nature behind Bangladesh suffering thumping defeats in both matches.
In a matter of months, Mominul has experienced the ups and downs of the life of a Test captain. From the highest of highs in New Zealand, the 30-year-old is now going through one of the lowest points of his life as an international cricketer. In Mominul’s case, cricket has once again proven itself as a great leveller.
The trouble for Mominul and Bangladesh started even before the first ball of the series was bowled. Mominul ignored South African head coach Russell Domingo’s advice and sided with the seniors as he chose to bowl first in Durban, on a pitch that is known to provide purchase to spinners in the final two days.
Bangladesh paid the price in the fourth innings as they got bundled out for just 53 runs on Day 5, their second lowest score in Test cricket.
After the match, Mominul and a few of the cricketers and cricket board officials alleged that the South Africa team went overboard while sledging and verbally abused the Bangladesh cricketers while the umpires turned a deaf ear to it.
South Africa captain Dean Elgar responded to the allegations by saying that his team just responded to what the Bangladesh players were doing and further claimed that Bangladesh are not used to playing intense cricket.
The war of words then ended abruptly as Mominul changed his tune completely in the pre-match press conference before the second Test. He said that his words were misunderstood and he never alleged that the South African team abused them on the field.
Mominul backtracking from his statement was seen as a sign of weakness. His authority over the team also came into question after an incident on the opening session of the Port Elizabeth Test.
Pacer Khaled Ahmed struck Sarel Erwee on the pads and went up for an appeal for leg-before wicket. But the umpire declined. Khaled straight away asked his skipper to review the decision. But Mominul, who was fielding on mid-off, kept consulting with other players and tried to get the nod from everyone before making up his mind. He finally decided to go for the review but before he could signal that to the umpire, the 15-second window to review a decision was up. TV replay later showed that it was in fact out LBW.
Not just captaincy, Mominul also struggled with the bat in the series. His scores in the series read 0, 2, 6 and 5. Mominul looked uncomfortable whenever he went out to bat and three of his four dismissals came against spinners.
The clean sweep at the hands of a weakened South Africa side evoked memories of Bangladesh losing 0-2 against a second string West Indies side at home last year. Bangladesh also lost a Test series against a struggling Sri Lanka the same year. Mominul was the captain in both of those series.
In fact, Bangladesh has just won three out of 15 Tests under Mominul’s captaincy. Two of those wins came against Zimbabwe and the other one was the historic win in New Zealand.
The weight of captaincy has also dented his stats as a batsman. Before getting captaincy, he averaged 41.47 in Tests. After receiving the mantle, his average has dropped to 34.65.
Mominul received the burden of captaincy out of the blue in 2019, when Test skipper Shakib Al Hasan got banned from cricket for a year for keeping contacts with bookmakers just one day before the team had to board a flight to play their first ever bilateral series in India.
Perhaps that’s why Mominul has gotten a longer rope than previous Bangladesh captains and the management and the board have backed him as the leader of the Test team. The incredible victory in Mount Maunganui seemed like a turning point in Mominul’s captaincy career. But the defeats in South Africa prove that Mominul is still a long way away from becoming an ideal Test captain.