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Cricket news - Mortaza opts out of national contract but wants to continue playing

"As far as playing cricket is concerned, let my decision be my own."

"As far as playing cricket is concerned, let my decision be my own."

Mashrafe Mortaza has decided to withdraw his name from the list of nationally contracted cricketers for 2020, BCB president Nazmul Hasan announced, fuelling rumours of the 36-year-old's retirement. Akram Khan, the cricket operation chairman at BCB, had recently told Cricbuzz that Mortaza's contract renewal "largely depends on him" as the board isn't sure what the all-rounder is thinking about his international career.

"Mashrafe called us today and said that he is not interested to take the national contract. He wants it to be given to some youngster," Nazmul Hasan said on Sunday (January 12). "We wanted to give him a farewell but now it seems he is not interested. He wants to continue, even if that means playing domestic cricket. Earlier in England, during the World Cup, I had told him that we want to give him a farewell match in Dhaka but now it seems that we have to talk to him again to know a clear picture."

The arrival of Mortaza's family members for the Dhaka Platoon vs Chattogram Challengers game on Monday (January 13) fuelled further rumours of retirement although the cricketer, who's coming back from a 14-stitch injury, did not make any such announcement.

"As far as playing cricket is concerned, let my decision be my own. When did I say I want to play in the national team?" Mortaza said after the game. "I was a national contracted cricketer till yesterday but that is not the case now. I don't think it will be like the board will select a captain and then select the team. What the selectors think, they will do. If BCB asks to quit as a captain I will leave right now."

Mortaza also clarified that he has no ambitions of a fairy tale farewell, that's been publicly offered to him by Nazmul Hasan, and that he just wants to continue playing cricket at the moment, be it for the national team or not.

"There was a time when I thought about having a farewell game but at this point in my career, I don't feel the need of it," he said. "Maybe some players want to leave when they are at their peak while some keep playing because they enjoy the game. Now it could be the national team or in another place. A player does not play only aiming for the national team. I want to play cricket: Dhaka League, I have BPL too. I am enjoying where I am playing. Selectors will think about the national team. I think I have that freedom to play as long as I want. I won't retire if anyone insists."

For someone who can opt to play cricket with 14 stitches just for the love of the game, it must be difficult to say goodbye. And more so after living a life in the middle of the sport for more than 18 years, which saw him undergo eight operations on his knee just to prolong his career. Mortaza has to retire someday and he will do that sooner than we think. "Cricket is not bigger than life but obviously it's a big part of my life," he summed it up after his comeback game in the ongoing Bangabandhu Bangladesh Premier League.

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