Mustafizur Rahman, one of Bangladesh's most prolific seamers, has been criticized in recent times because of his high economy rates. Mustafiz had picked up 20 wickets in the 2019 Cricket World Cup but had an economy rate of 6.7 and the criticisms went up a notch when he remained wicketless in Bangladesh's T20 series against India, where he bowled 9.4 overs giving away 94 runs without picking up a wicket.
The objections reached its apex when Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) selector and Rangpur Rangers technical director Habibul Bashar told the media that Mustafiz was picking wickets but leaking runs.
But Bangladesh ODI skipper Mashrafe Mortaza has said that Mustafiz needs to be taken care of because Bangladesh does not have a seamer of half of Mustafiz's quality.
"I will try to back Mustafiz. Even if we get half of Mustafiz, that is fine, show me another player with half of Mustafiz's ability in Bangladesh if you can. There is not and that is why we are trying to prepare Mustafiz. Mustafiz picked up 20 wickets in the World Cup, maybe at a high economy rate but how to solve this? There is a way to fix it. Many great bowlers have gone through a tough patch and come back. Why isn't that happening in our country? Because those who are working with Mustafiz are speaking like the spectators. Mustafiz is also human. So when you have criticized him a day before, how will he share his thoughts with you?" Mashrafe enquired.
Questioned about the Bangladeshi pacers' performance in the ongoing Bangabandhu Bangladesh Premier League (BPL) T20 2019-20, Mashrafe said that this was a positive sign for Bangladesh and these seamers should be backed up, rather than being criticized like Mustafiz.
"I have said about Mustafiz that it is important to take good care of him. Everybody will want him to play well and when he will not, the spectators will criticize him. But when I am in charge of Mustafiz, why would I criticize him in front of the media?" Mashrafe said.
He further added, "Maybe Mustafiz could not do that well in India. But as they are in touch right now, it is important to back them up. I am not talking about the criticism from the spectators or the media, what I am saying is if the persons who monitor them criticize the players in front of the media, then the players will very obviously mentally break down. It's not the job of those who work with the players to criticize them when they don't perform up to the mark. Their job is to always back the players up, to be on their side. And when the players are in a good rhythm like now, they need to help the players to step up their game. I think that is their duty."
He also added that the necessity of boosting up the players was missing in Bangladesh and if that does not happen, the cricket of the country will stay stagnant and not go ahead.
Mashrafe also faced some harsh decisions in his career and questioned if his and Mustafiz's situation was the same, Mashrafe disagreed. He said that his case was behind the scenes while the ones with Mustafiz are in front of everyone's eyes.
"My case was different. There are problems here (in Mustafiz's case) too. What happened with me was behind the scenes. The things that are happening with Mustafiz is happening in front of his eyes, he is watching them. The media can do an analysis because that is their job. The fans will also criticize because they expect good performances (from the players). But when I am working with Mustafiz, I am a part of him. I have the responsibility to help out Mustafiz. When I criticize Mustafiz then I can also be criticized because then there will be questions about the work I am doing," Mashrafe added.
Mustafiz has been brilliant in this ongoing BPL as he is currently on top of the wicket-takers' list with 20 wickets at an economy of 7.01. Despite his team, Rangpur Rangers, being knocked out, Mustafiz has played his part and has replied to his critics with his performance.