Mashrafe Bin Mortaza (born 5 October 1983 in Narail District) is a Bangladesh international cricketer, and current captain of the One Day Internationals for Bangladesh national cricket team. He is also a former T20I captain, until his retirement. He broke into the national side in late 2001 against Zimbabwe and represented Bangladesh before having played a single first-class match. Mortaza captained his country in one Test and seven One Day Internationals (ODIs) between 2009 and 2010, however injury meant he was in and out of the side and Shakib Al Hasan was appointed captain in Mortaza’s absence.
Mortaza used to be considered one of the fastest bowlers produced by Bangladesh, previously bowling in the mid-135s km/h in the 2000s, and regularly opens the bowling. He is a useful lower-middle order batsman, with a first-class century and three Test half-centuries to his name. Mortaza’s career has been hampered by injuries and he has undergone a total of ten operations on his knees and ankles.
Mortaza retired from Test cricket in 2009 due to continuous back injuries and continued to play in shorter formats. On 4 April 2017, he announced his intentions to retire from T20Is as well. He retired from all T20Is on 6 April 2017
Mortaza was born in the district of Narail in south-west Bangladesh. He enjoyed playing sports such as football and badminton from a young age, and sometimes went swimming in the nearby River Chitra instead of doing school work. He was admitted to the Department of Philosophy at the Jahangirnagar University in 2003–04 for his bachelor’s degree.
Mortaza has been described as an open and animated character who enjoys motorcycling. He used to travel from a local bridge onto the tops of passing goods barges. He is very popular in his hometown, leading to him being dubbed their “Prince of Hearts”. At Govt. Victoria College, Narail, Mortaza met Sumona Haque Shumi, whom he married in 2006. They have a daughter, Humaira, and a son, Sahil.
Mortaza is one of the most successful pace bowlers to have emerged from Bangladesh. The pace and aggression Mortaza displayed as an under-19 player impressed Andy Roberts, the former West Indian fast bowler, who was acting as a temporary bowling coach for Bangladesh. Under Roberts’ recommendation, Mortaza has drafted into Bangladesh A team.
After one match for Bangladesh A (to date his only Bangladesh A match), Mortaza made his Test debut on 8 November 2001 against Zimbabwe in the Bangabandhu National Stadium in Dhaka. Khaled Mahmud also debuted in the match, which was curtailed by rain and ended in a draw. Mortaza opened the bowling with Mohammad Manjural Islam and took 4 wickets for 106 runs (also written as 4/106) as Zimbabwe did not bat a second time. His first, also known as “maiden”, Test wicket was that of Grant Flower. Unusually the match was also Mortaza’s maiden first-class match; he was the 31st person to have achieved this, and the third since 1899. Mortaza also made his first appearance for Bangladesh’s one day team on 23 November 2001 along with fellow debutants Fahim Muntasir and Tushar Imran. Opening the bowling with Mohammad Sharif, Mortaza finished with figures of 2/26 from 8.2 overs as Zimbabwe won the match by five wickets.
After the Test series against Zimbabwe and one against New Zealand, Mortaza missed the series against Pakistan in January 2002 as he was suffering from a back injury. While recovering, Mortaza suffered a knee injury while skipping and required an operation. As a result, he was unable to play cricket for a further eight months. At this stage of his career, Mortaza had played four Tests and taken 12 wickets at an average of 31.16.
Mortaza did not return to international cricket until the 2003 World Cup in South Africa during 2003. Bangladesh failed to progress past the round-robin stage, and Mortaza played in two matches collecting two wickets at an average of 38.00.
In October and November 2003, England toured Bangladesh for two-Tests and three ODIs. In the second Test, Mortaza took what at the time was his best Test figures of 4/60 before succumbing to injury, collapsing with a twisted knee after delivering the ball. Despite challenging England in the series, Bangladesh lost 2–0, Mortaza finished the series with 8 wickets at an average of 21.25. As a result, he was again out of international cricket; this time for over a year. Injuries in the first three years of his international career saw Mortaza only play 12 Tests and not more than four in a row
In early 2009, Ashraful’s position as captain came under scrutiny and the BCB considered possible replacements. Mortaza, wicket-keeper Mushfiqur Rahim, and all-rounder Shakib Al Hasan were identified as potential successors, but the board decided to let Ashraful remain as captain. Mortaza was also reconfirmed as vice-captain. Following Bangladesh’s early exit from the 2009 ICC World Twenty20, as a result of their defeat by Ireland, Mohammad Ashraful’s leadership was criticised, but stated that he wished to remain captain. In June 2009, the BCB relieved Ashraful of the captaincy so that he could focus on his batting and Mortaza was appointed captain for the tours of the West Indies and Zimbabwe. Shakib Al Hasan replaced Mortaza as vice-captain.
In July 2009, Bangladesh toured the West Indies. Mortaza’s captaincy was off to a winning start in his first Test in charge when Bangladesh beat the West Indies. However, he injured his knee and was unable to take to the field on the final day, leaving Shakib Al Hasan to assume the captaincy and lead the team to a historic win; it was their first against the West Indies, their first overseas Test victory, and only their second Test win. This was achieved against a very inexperienced West Indies side as a result of a dispute between the West Indies Cricket Board and the West Indies Players’ Association overpay. The first XI had made themselves unavailable for selection and a new squad had to be chosen. Seven West Indies players made their Test debut in the match and the side was captained by Floyd Reifer who had played the last of his four Tests ten years earlier.
Mortaza’s injury prevented him from taking part in the remainder of the tour and his replacement, Shakib Al Hasan, led Bangladesh to a 2–0 and 3–0 victories in the Test and ODI series respectively. The West Indies’ dispute remained unsolved for the rest of Bangladesh’s tour and the West Indies continued to field an inexperienced side. The knee injury also ruled Mortaza out of playing on the tour of Zimbabwe in August. In early August, Mortaza travelled to Australia to undergo arthroscopic surgery on both knees; the expected recovery time from the operation was six weeks. Although Mortaza was reinstated as Bangladesh’s captain for the team’s home ODI series against Zimbabwe in October 2009, he did not play in the series. His injury persisted, and he did not play competitive cricket from his injury in July 2009 until February 2010
Pitches in Bangladesh are generally slow and suit spin bowling; the domestic circuit is dominated by spin bowlers and former Bangladesh coach Jamie Siddons suggested the pitches discourages the emergence of fast bowlers. Despite this in April 2008 Mortaza became the second Bangladesh bowler to take 100 wickets in ODIs and the first fast bowler from the team to pass the landmark. For a long time Mortaza was acclaimed as the fastest bowler that Bangladesh had produced, however Shahadat Hossain is now considered quicker. Mortaza uses his aggressive bowling to challenge batsmen. Although a naturally aggressive player, his accurate bowling has led to comparisons with Australian fast-bowler Glenn McGrath. He has been described by commentators as having “a strong sturdy physic … sheer pace and stamina with an aggressive frame of mind”. After his knee injury, Mortaza was forced to alter his bowling action slightly, and lost some pace. He has tried to develop his use of reverse swing in an attempt to become a more effective bowler.
Jamie Siddons, the Bangladesh coach, has stated that he believes Mortaza does not get the bowling figures he deserves because “opposing teams tend to see him off and then attack the others”. Mortaza has also commented that “it always puts pressure on the bowlers when their side is bowled out cheaply in the first innings”, something that the Bangladesh batting line-up has sometimes struggled with.
Although primarily a bowler, Mortaza is an aggressive batsman as demonstrated by his high Test match strike rate of 67.25. He holds Bangladeshi records for highest strike rate in Tests and ODIs, and for scoring the most runs in an ODI over (26 runs including four sixes). Mortaza’s batting is characterized by a reluctance to get in line with the bowling and he prefers to take a step towards square leg to facilitate his powerful shots. He has suffered a plethora of injuries, in his own words from 2007: “Left knee, three operations; right knee, one operation; back, stress fracture—it’s better now but still gives some troublesome shoulder problems; ankles, damaged ligaments twice”. Since then he has suffered further injury, and in total has undergone four surgeries on his left knee and three on his right, and three on his ankles
On 4 April 2017, Mortaza announced his retirement from twenty20 internationals after Sri Lanka tour. Mashrafe played his last T20I on 6 April 2017 against Sri Lanka in R. Premadasa Stadium. Though he was dismissed as the second victim in Lasith Malinga’s hattrick for naught, Mashrafe took a wicket in the match and guided the team to victory in his last T20I outing.
1. Highest ninth-wicket partnership for Bangladesh: 77 with Shahadat Hossain v India, 18 May 2007
2. Highest batting strike rate of Bangladesh players facing 1,000 balls or more (67.20)
1. Highest ninth-wicket partnership for Bangladesh: 97 with Shakib Al Hasan v Pakistan, 16 April 2007
2. Highest batting strike rate of Bangladesh players facing 1,000 balls or more (89.00)
3 Most catches for Bangladesh by a non-wicketkeeper
Best bowling figures by a Bangladesh player (6/26 vs Kenya)