Rafique blames selectors
Saturday, 01 March 2008

Sports Correspondent

Left-arm spinner Mohammad Rafique lashed out at the Bangladesh Cricket Board officials on Thursday for forcing him to retire from international cricket.

‘The same people who did not allow me to play Test cricket for nearly three years are now back in the Board. So, I have decided to quit.

I don’t want to play at anybody’s mercy,’ Rafique said at news conference on Thursday. The 37-year-old spinner, who has played 32 Tests and scalped 98 wickets, will make his final appearance in international cricket with the second Test match against South Africa starting at the Chittagong Divisional Stadium.

Rafique was a member of Bangladesh’s inaugural Test squad against India in November 2000, but was not considered for nearly three years before making comeback with the South Africa tour in October 2002. In the meantime he was branded a one-day specialist and thereby missed at least 12 Test matches.

He was dropped again after his second Test match in East London and made a comeback the next year with the home series, also against South Africa. Since his third Test, Rafique has been an integral member of the Bangladesh Test team until he was dropped against New Zealand earlier this year.

He did not play any one-day matches in Sri Lanka and New Zealand. ‘I was then denied Test cricket unjustifiably and the same people played a role in my axing before the New Zealand tour.

It seems the Board hardly cares about senior players. ‘They (selectors) said that New Zealand condition was not going to be helpful for the spinners, so I wasn’t picked. But in the end they picked another spinner, which was disgraceful,’ he added.

Bangladesh had opted Enamul Haque Jr instead of Rafique in New Zealand, where they lost both Test matches against the hosts. Enamul played in the first Test in Dunedin with no reward. Rafique replaced Enamul against South Africa and has taken four wickets in two innings in the first Test in Dhaka.

He is now only two shy of 100 Test wickets. ‘I could have finished with much more wickets had my three years not been taken off,’ he said.

The gutsy spinner however refused to blame the batsmen for not allowing him bowl in the second innings too often which could have raised his wicket tally much higher than what he has got now. Rafique was denied a chance to bowl in the second innings in 17 Tests out of 32 as the batsmen failed to set a target for opponents.

‘Yes, my wickets should have been higher if I could have got a chance to bowl in the second innings more often. But I cannot blame the batsmen as they are still in the learning stage. It will take time for us to be established in Test cricket.’ Asked whether he has a chance to change his mind in future if the BCB request him, Rafique replied in the negative.

‘Bangladesh will play their next Test match after six or seven months. Why should I wait so long? I can tell you that this is going to be my last match,’ he said.

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