Bangladesh have dropped former captain Mashrafe Bin Mortaza from the preliminary squad for the upcoming ODI series against the West Indies at home, with all-rounder Shakib Al Hasan returning to the fold after serving a one-year ban.
The Bangladesh Cricket Board announced the 24-man squad for the ODI and Test series on Monday, reports bdnews24.com.
Although Mashrafe has had numerous injury layoffs in the past, this is the first time he has been overlooked by the selectors since he was controversially omitted from the 2011 World Cup squad due to fitness concerns.
The 'tough decision' was taken 'collectively' after much deliberation and discussions with the team management as well as the player himself, chief selector Minhajul Abedin said in a media briefing afterwards.
“We've always had a lot of respect for him (Mashrafe). He has given a lot for the country. It was a difficult decision. Even then, we have to accept the reality. We have to move forward. With the focus being on the 2023 World Cup, we, the team management, have all taken this decision together. We had to leave out Mashrafe,” he offered.
"The team management, the fitness trainers, the bowling coaches... the decision was taken collectively. There was no disagreement here.”
Following the disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the selectors are seeking to take the team in a different direction and Mashrafe does not feature in the plans for the future, according to Minhajul.
“There are a lot of issues here. The team management has given us a lot of plans and we have also discussed our plans a lot. I came to this decision after many discussions and I have taken this decision for the sake of Bangladesh cricket, with the future in mind,” he continued.
"In 2021, we are starting anew. After 10 months, everyone is starting afresh. The pandemic has been a big setback. As such, we have all decided together that we want to start playing good cricket with the West Indies series. ”
Another reason for Mashrafe's exclusion was to make room for youngsters with an eye on the 2023 World Cup, the chief selector said.
"We have to give a place to young cricketers. They have to be given a chance. This is definitely a big opportunity for the newcomers to play in his place. We will build cricketers for the future.”
"Of course, we are focusing on the 2023 World Cup. We have a lot of matches from 2021 onwards, whether it's Test matches or one-dayers. That's why the Test and ODI pool has been made a little bigger. We are moving forward in line with the plans laid out by the team management. ”
Minhajul said he has spoken to Mashrafe 'in detail' about his omission from the squad and did not see any possibility of a 'misunderstanding' arising from the decision.
Preliminary squad for ODIs: Tamim Iqbal (capt), Momimul Haque, Taskin Ahmed, Khaled Ahmed, Shakib Al Hasan, Hasan Mahmud, Najmul Hossain Shanto, Mustafizur Rahman, Mushfiqur Rahim, Mehidy Hassan Miraz, Mohammad Mithun, Taijul Islam, Liton Das, Nurul Hasan, Yasir Ali, Shadman Islam, Saif Hassan, Nayeem Hasan, Abu Jayed, Ebadot Hossain
Preliminary squad for Test series: Momimul Haque, Taskin Ahmed, Tamim Iqbal, Khaled Ahmed, Shakib Al Hasan, Hasan Mahmud, Najmul Hossain Shanto, Mustafizur Rahman, Mushfiqur Rahim, Mehidy Hassan Miraz, Mohammad Mithun, Taijul Islam, Liton Das, Nurul Hasan, Yasir Ali, Shadman Islam, Saif Hassan, Nayeem Hasan, Abu Jayed, Ebadot Hossain