Soon after Mominul Haque decided to quit Test captaincy on Tuesday, the question 'who's next' emerged with the rumours indicating Shakib Al Hasan possibly taking up the armband for now. Right-arm batter Litton Das is reportedly going to be his deputy. Whether this is the best call from the Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) remains up for debate.
The reason for the debate is Shakib's rare availability in Test cricket, especially in the away ones. Shakib has been fairly non-committal about his long-term plans in the format. He's also missed many games for the team in the last few seasons. There is no doubt about Shakib's captaincy, but his availability remains a serious issue of debate before appointing him as the Test captain.
Even the BCB president Nazmul Hassan Papon seemed skeptical about re-appointing the southpaw as the next Test skipper.
"Shakib was our skipper (before his ban in 2019) and there is no doubt about his captaincy. But we also need to be sure about his availability," Nazmul told the media regarding Shakib getting the armband.
Apart from Shakib, the Bangladesh team management actually has limited options for the Test captaincy role. Ideally, ODI skipper Tamim Iqbal would be the most viable candidate for the post, but he wants to concentrate on 50-over captaincy only. T20I skipper Mahmudullah Riyad has already retired from the red-ball game last year. Another senior campaigner Mushfiqur Rahim, who captained Bangladesh in 34 Tests from 2011 to 2017, is not interested in taking up the role again.
Among the young crop, Najmul Hossain Shanto was being regarded as the future captain but his dip in form has shot the possibilities down for now. Litton Das may be another candidate but he doesn't have much past experience. Also, he is just getting into his zone of scoring runs for fun, captaincy may add extra pressure on him and affect his performance.
Then comes Mehidy Hasan Miraz. Considering his position in the team, his consistent performances, his previous captaincy experience, and the team's long-term plan, the all-rounder seems like the best option right now.
Apart from the victory against New Zealand at Mount Maunganui, which is arguably Bangladesh's biggest achievement in cricket, the Tigers have been pretty poor in the red-ball format in recent years. Bangladesh will need to have a base for their Test side and they got to start from scratch. Proper long-term planning with a long-term skipper may help their cause. And Miraz fits absolutely right for that.
Shakib is 35 now. Even if he gets the captaincy, he will probably lead the side for two years maximum. Then there will be another search for the captain and whatnot. Also, this will not be the right move for Shakib to become the centre figure of an uprising Test side and then leave it after a couple of years.
If Miraz gets the captaincy, he will have some time to get groomed while the seniors are still there. This will be really important for him. Also, the early stage of captaincy is never easy and the seniors can help him calm his nerves when needed. Miraz does have past experience in leading, and learning from the seniors will only make him better.
Miraz has been in the Test side for the past six years. He can play at the highest level for at least seven-eight years more. His away form may arise a few debates but he can always get better as he has the knack of thriving under responsibilities.
Past captaincy experience
Miraz has been tipped as a future captain ever since his age-level days. He's had a few stints of captaincy under his belt and the numbers speak for himself.
He led Bangladesh's U-19 side in 48 youth ODIs, including the 2016 U-19 World Cup where Bangladesh came third. He was also the player of the tournament there. Bangladesh won 30 of those matches and lost 17. Pretty impressive, no?
He also led Bangladesh in two youth Tests against Sri Lanka and drew both of them.
In the senior circuit, he captained Rajshahi Kings and Chattogram Challengers in 2018-19 and 2022 respectively. Rajshahi Kings won six out of the 12 matches under Miraz in his first captaincy stint. Rajshahi came fifth in the table but his captaincy did impress a lot of people.
Appointing Shakib as the Test captain may have its own risk factor. It can either work out really well or destabilize the team (for the drama that is created before every Test series regarding him). Litton is still inexperienced as a skipper and he needs to focus more on his batting right now. Miraz is all-set with past experiences and here for the long run.
But will BCB think it through and see what is on offer? Or will they go with the short-term strategy again? The latter is likely to happen on 02 June in the BCB board meeting, but Miraz is definitely a candidate, arguably the best out there.