He is always the centre of attention, but the spotlight seemed to be shining brighter on him yesterday at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium in Mirpur as Bangladesh ODI and T20I captain Mashrafe Bin Mortaza 'celebrated' his birthday.
However, there is a correction in that statement as the Tigers skipper, who turned 33, is not someone who is fond of celebrating any anniversary. Coincidentally, yesterday was also his son's birthday, but there were no parties; at home or elsewhere. Instead, his focus was on bowling as he returned to the nets after twisting his ankle during the third and final ODI against Afghanistan at Mirpur on Saturday.
Still, his demeanour could not stop his well wishers, who poured in birthday wishes. It was his teammates who wished him first in the first hours of Tuesday before the reporters wished him during the practice session.
Have you met your son on the day?
“I'm yet to get the time as there were team meetings and other engagements,” was the response from the inspirational Bangladesh skipper.
Many, including Tamim Iqbal and team manager Khaled Mahmud, also poked some fun at Mashrafe's reluctance to celebrate his birthday as he was unwilling to even accept cakes.
Mashrafe is willing to treat people on any other day, but not for the purposes of any anniversary.
Were there any special reasons to go along with the popular traditions these days?
“No…not at all. You know I wish everybody on their birthday, maybe not with gifts or flowers. And everyone wishes me on my birthday and that's it. I don't do anything more and in my family we do not observe it. We distribute some food to orphans, which gives us enough pleasure,” said Mashrafe.
“My mother celebrated my first birthday but my maternal grandfather asked my mother why she was celebrating the reduction of one's age [as the time to his eventual demise reduces with each birthday] and he had advised her to give something to the deprived people on the day. Since then we have been following those instructions. There is nothing wrong if someone celebrates it in a different way,” he continued.
Mashrafe was more interested to talk about his first bowling session in the nets after he had slipped just as he was about to deliver a ball against Afghanistan. His right leg slipped and then came to a jarring halt, causing him to twist his ankle at the crease and he fell in a heap, silencing the entire stadium.
“There is still a little pain but the more important thing is the psychological effect of that incident. While I was bowling in the nets, automatically my attention came to my landing rather than being on what was before me,” informed Mashrafe.
And it is not unexpected that the brave-heart cricketer took the brief panic in his stride as he has been going through a good time in regards to fitness. A Mashrafe enjoying a long spell of fitness has been a pleasant change, especially considering the success the team has been achieving under his leadership and long may that continue.