Left-arm seamer Mustafizur Rahman, who is currently in India playing the Indian Premier League (IPL) for Delhi Capitals, explained his decision to pick and choose between formats a few days ago in an interview. The pacer has played four Tests in the last four years and has been exclusively playing white-ball cricket for a while.
With some of the frontline fast bowlers battling injuries, the Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) president Nazmul Hassan stated that Mustafizur might be called back from the IPL if the team needed his service although the fast bowler is not a contracted player in the longer format.
Since then, Mustafizur's irregularity in Tests has been a major talking point. While speaking to the media on Saturday, BCB director and former captain Khaled Mahmud criticised Mustafizur for not being available for selection in Tests.
"I want him to play Tests. Why not?" said Mahmud. "We don't have many options to choose from. Mustafizur is our best pace bowler based on experience and skill. Now that Taskin [Ahmed] is injured, we will miss one of our main weapons against Sri Lanka. Taskin and Shoriful [Islam] are injury-prone players. If Mustafizur was there, we didn't need to worry much. We could've rotated our bowlers because everybody needs rest."
"Mustafizur should've been there, at least as a backup option. I know he is a dangerous customer in white-ball cricket but I also know that he can prove a threat to the opponents in Tests as well."
Taskin Ahmed and Shoriful Islam have been playing all formats on a regular basis and Mahmud feels that Mustafizur should be able to do so too. "The senior players like Shakib [Al Hasan] and Tamim [Iqbal] are in the mid-30s and they will need breaks every now and then. But someone like Liton Das can't take such breaks. Because he's not a Shakib or a Tamim. I am not saying that Mustafizur should play all the Tests. But he can very well play at least 6-8 Tests a year," he said.
"We need a pool of 12 pacers who can perform in all formats. For Tests, we need express fast bowlers and there are only a few guys who can clock 140 kph. Mustafizur can do that and that's why he should play Tests. I heard once that he doesn't want to play because of bio-bubbles. But this can't be an excuse."
Mahmud urged Mustafizur to give more importance to international cricket than franchise T20 leagues. "The T20 format maybe more glamorous, the amount of money maybe more, but Test cricket is the ultimate format. There is a lot of talk about managing workloads but it's the IPL where his schedule is hectic. Say, he bowls 60 overs in the IPL in total. Our Test bowlers bowl the same number of overs in two Tests. Then where is his workload? You play under the BCB and you have to give more importance to international cricket. I hope he will understand that the team needs him."
"If he plays IPL, he might get big money. But isn't cricket greater than money? Isn't the country bigger than money? We never played for money," mentioned Mahmud.
Mustafizur is not part of the squad for the Sri Lanka Tests but the BCB director wants the paceman to play at least one Test match in the upcoming series against the West Indies.