Bangladesh picked up a 123-run win via the DLS method in the rain-hit third ODI against Zimbabwe on Friday, 6 March, to complete a 3-0 rout. For Mortaza, who announced his decision to relinquish the captaincy ahead of the game, it was a moment of relief as well as emotion.
''One responsibility has lessened. It was a huge responsibility. Some feel bad, some feel good, I have a mixed feeling [on giving up the captaincy],” he said. “But I feel good that I could complete in a good position as captain. And finishing with a win makes me feels good.”
He carried this team on his shoulder over the years and following his last match as a ODI captain, Mashrafe Bin Mortaza has carried by teammate @TamimOfficial28's shoulder 🙏#ThankYouCaptain pic.twitter.com/RVc4GfWTwa— Bangladesh Cricket (@BCBtigers) March 6, 2020
It’s not known yet if stepping down from the captaincy would also translate to the end of the road for Mortaza as a player. But with the Bangladesh Cricket Board having made it clear that the veteran will have to prove his form and fitness to be considered for selection, and with him being on the wrong side of 30, there is a sense of uncertainty around his future.
''I cannot say anything about selection,” he said, “but you have to perform as a captain. And captaincy is a huge pressure, especially in international cricket.”
Mortaza finishes up as Bangladesh’s most successful ODI captain ever by a distance, with his 50 wins putting him 21 ahead of the next best Habibul Bashar, while his win/loss ratio of 58.13 is over 11 better than that of Shakib Al Hasan.
One responsibility has lessened. It was a huge responsibility. Some feel bad, some feel good, I have a mixed feeling [on giving up the captaincy]
Reflecting on his biggest challenges as a leader, Mortaza said: ''I don't think there is much to do on the field, but off the field there are so many things to do with the players.
''I think they get disturbed by so many things. It could be from their family side, something might be popping up that they might not want to see. Personal problems. [Being] out form, not able to adjust with the coach, fitness issue. It varies.
"So it's a captain's responsibility to support him and also take the responsibility of the team. No matter how bad they play. I have seen many cricketers who could not perform because they were focusing entirely on their captaincy rather than giving focus to their game.”