Veteran all-rounder Mahmudullah has decided to retire from Tests, much to everyone's surprise. The players lined up and gave him a guard of honour before the start of play on day five. Mahmudullah produced a career-best performance in his last Test innings, scoring a match-defining 150. He is the first cricketer to start the Test career with a five-wicket haul and end it with a hundred.
Mahmudullah, who had been away from Tests for 18 months, was suddenly recalled to the Test squad. It was a surprising decision as the 35-year old was told to concentrate exclusively on white-ball cricket and left out of the red-ball contracts. His sudden decision to retire has raised many questions.
Did he make the right decision? Or should he have continued for some more time? The Business Standard (TBS) spoke to Khaled Mashud and Aminul Islam - two former skippers of the Bangladesh national cricket team - regarding Mahmudullah's retirement.
"It (retirement) is completely a personal decision," said Mashud. "But it is necessary to know the reason behind his decision. The board has to find out why he has decided to retire. But I am not sure whether the players have been able to trust the board."
Since Mahmudullah made his teammates aware of his decision, a lot has happened. Nazmul Hassan, the president of the Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) was very unhappy. He felt that Mahmudullah's decision would negatively affect the team. Mashud said that there is a communication gap between the players and the board. "I am not quite sure if the players can speak their heart out to the board. The board and the players constitute a family. But I think of late there's been a huge communication gap between the board and the players. Some external factors are responsible for this, not the players. In my opinion, the environment of a university or institution depends on how it is managed and who are the people managing it. It's pretty similar when it comes to the cricket board," he mentioned.
The former captain welcomed Mahmudullah's decision, saying, "It's a great thing to retire on a high, no doubt. I think the players should call it a day before speculation starts about his retirement rather than stretching his career aimlessly."
Mahmudullah decided to retire midway through the Test match and Mashud believes that the lack of professionalism of the board contributed to his decision. He also stated that the way the inside conversations are being leaked isn't a good sign. "The message should be clear from the board. A player should be made aware of what the board is planning. The board needs to let the player know about the future plan and whether a particular player is part of it or not. If the message is clear, then it becomes easier for a player to decide when he will retire. It's all about mutual respect and professionalism."
"The professionalism isn't there. Mahmudullah can retire anytime but the board has to communicate with him. A lot of legendary players were convinced by the board to come out of retirement. But what the board did is unacceptable. They aren't talking face to face. Communication is being conducted through the media. And there is a blame game going on. The conversation between the board president and a player or among the players inside the dressing room isn't supposed to come out. The lack of respect is evident," Mashud said.
Aminul Islam, former Bangladesh captain and currently an ICC development officer, said that Mahmudullah has made the right decision. "I think it's the right decision because it's only him who knows what's the best time to quit. I heard he was told to focus on white-ball cricket. He wouldn't have featured in the squad had Tamim (Iqbal) and Mushfiqur (Rahim) been fully fit. He came, played a match-defining knock and now he has decided it's time to go. So I think it's the right decision and he remains a key player in the rest of the formats," Aminul said.
When asked whether Mahmudullah's decision to retire on a high will set a good example, Aminul said, "No, I don't think so. We don't know what a particular player goes through in his cricketing career. So it cannot be considered a good example. Everyone has his own philosophy. Yes, retiring midway through a match seemed a little awkward but I don't think this is something unprofessional."
"It was completely his decision whether he could've continued for some more time. Look, he was available for selection in the last one year and a half. He wasn't called up when the team collapsed against the West Indies. Now he has been added to the team because the team needed him. They might not need him in future. So I think we have to respect his decision," Aminul signed off.