Mashrafe Bin Mortaza born 5 October 1983) is a Bangladeshi international cricketer and politician who is the former captain in all three formats of the game for the Bangladesh national cricket team. Widely considered as the best captain for Bangladesh in ODI and T20 formats of all time, he became only the fifth bowler in the history to take 100 ODI wickets as a captain. Mortaza's career has been hampered by fifteen injuries as he has undergone a total of ten operations on his knees and ankles. Mashrafe is also the first pace bowler in Bangladesh who bowled a delivery clocking over 148 km/h during a Test against New Zealand at Hamilton in 2001.
Early life and family
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 has been described as an open and animated character that enjoys motorcycling. He used to travel from a local bridge onto the tops of passing goods barges. He is very popular in his home town, leading to him being dubbed their "Prince of Hearts".
He completed his Secondary School Certificate (SSC) from Narail Government High School in 1999 and his Higher Secondary School Certificate (HSC) from Narail Victoria College in 2001. At Govt. Victoria College, Narail, Mortaza met Sumona Haque Sumi, whom he married in 2006. They have a son and daughter.
Mortaza obtained his bachelor's degree within the Department of Philosophy at the Jahangirnagar University in 2003–04. He was more interested in cricket as a youth, especially batting. In spite of this, his bowling is now his main attribute and his pace has gained him the nickname of the "Narail Express".
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 was drafted into the 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 over’s as Zimbabwe won the match by five wickets.
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-145s-148s km/h in the 2000s, and regularly opened the bowling.
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 he 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 were 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.