Bangladesh ODI skipper Mashrafe Mortaza has been under scrutiny since the World Cup in 2019 as the veteran seamer only managed to pick up one wicket in the whole tournament.
Since then, he missed Bangladesh's ODI tour at Sri Lanka and questions have been put up by many about if Mashrafe needs to step down from ODI cricket, the only format he currently plays in.
Mashrafe has finally returned to the Bangladesh side for the Tigers' three-match ODI series against Zimbabwe. In the pre-match press conference, Mashrafe said that there might be criticisms of him regarding not picking wickets but there should not be any questions about his self-respect.
"Self-respect and to be ashamed of? Do I steal on the field? Am I a thief? I can not mix up shame or self-respect with the game. Are the people who are stealing ashamed of their deeds? Only if I don't pick up wickets I have to be ashamed? Am I a thief? I might not pick up wickets, the media will criticize me, the fans will, why would I need to be ashamed? Am I not playing for Bangladesh? Or am I playing for another country that I have to be ashamed? If I perform poorly, I will be dropped, easy as that," the 36-year old said.
Mashrafe also said that he did not come to play cricket to lose his self-respect and he did not agree to the point of being ashamed of anything.
"I am playing for Bangladesh. Am I against the people of Bangladesh? Anybody can fail to perform. Criticism is normal. If I don't pick up wickets I will be criticised. But when talks surface about my self-respect or being ashamed of then I have some questions. There might be criticism of me but my self-respect? Have I come to play cricket to sacrifice my self-respect? Am I playing for any other country or am I stealing? No. So I do not agree to this (question about self-respect or being ashamed of)," Mashrafe wrapped it up.
Bangladesh take on Zimbabwe on Sunday in the first ODI at Sylhet. And in that match, Mashrafe will play for Bangladesh after more than seven months and will look forward to getting rid of his bad patch.