“I will keep playing as long as my mind and body are going well. I don’t know what awaits me.”
Mashrafe Mortaza has left the fate of his international career to the national selectors, after he was omitted from the preliminary squad for the upcoming ODI series against West Indies, Bangladesh’s first international games since the start of the pandemic.
While Mortaza, 37, did play in Bangladesh’s last ODI series, completing a 3-0 win against Zimbabwe, he was later informed by the team management that they were looking to move on from him. Last month, the BCB president Nazmul Hassan reiterated those plans, saying that Mortaza was unlikely to be considered for national selection.
The significance of Mortaza being dropped is the timing, especially with the 2023 World Cup qualification in focus. Mortaza, who is currently Bangladesh’s highest wicket-taker in ODIs, however said that he wasn’t entirely surprised by the decision, adding that he would continue playing domestic cricket and make himself available for the senior side.
“I have taken it professionally,” Mashrafe told Kaler Kantho. “It wasn’t a surprising news for myself or my family. Everything has an end. I am sure everything was considered before taking the decision.
“I have mentioned my retirement thoughts before. I will keep playing as long as my mind and body are going well. I don’t know what awaits me. The selectors will decide on my international career. I won’t play any cricket after I retire. I am 37 years old. Everything comes to an end. I will leave cricket one day.”
Given his age, Mortaza’s fitness is usually mentioned as a cause for concern but his track record, particularly in the last five years, is remarkable. Even during the recent domestic T20 tournament, Mortaza took a five-wicket haul in a short burst for Gemcon Khulna, shortly after recovering from Covid-19 as well as a hamstring injury.
Mortaza said that speculation about his fitness has made him fitter, and helped him enjoyed cricket more.
“I have never failed a fitness test in my 18-year career. I have always believed that hard work pays off. I knew my fitness would be a talking point so I always kept my fitness intact; even during the Bangabandhu T20 Cup, I passed the fitness test. I am pleased with the cricket I have played, which is why I want to continue playing,” he had said.
Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo’s Bangladesh correspondent. @isam84