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Asia Cup

‘It’s proved that we are also the flag bearer of Bangladesh’


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Photo: Courtesy

|| CF CORRESPONDENT FROM DUBAI ||

Bangladesh national team has been knocked out from the first stage of this year's Asia Cup. Pakistan and Sri Lanka will meet in the final at the Dubai International Stadium on Friday. Although Bangladesh is not playing in the final but there is one, who will represent Bangladesh, umpire Masudur Rahman Mukul. He will be one of the on-field umpires of Sunday’s extravaganza.

Mukul shared his experience in the ongoing Asia Cup and his umpiring career’s ups and downs during an interview before the Final in Dubai with Cricfrenzy's Syed Sami. The excerpts are below:

Cricfrenzy: How does it feel to be umpiring in the final match of the Asia Cup?

Mukul: Of course, it's an unique feeling. I'm feeling good. The most important thing is to umpire in the final match as a Bangladeshi on such a big stage. I'm definitely focused on the task at hand and I won't forget that.

CF: Bangladesh did not play well in this tournament. If Bangladesh was in the final, would that be more complete?

Mukul: To be honest, like you and the supporters, we also wanted Bangladesh to play in the final. Before coming to the Asia Cup, the thought was that we would be happiest if Bangladesh played the final. If we don't reach the final then someone among us will represent Bangladesh. Our first expectation didn’t meet. However, it is a pleasure to officiate in the final match being a representative of Bangladesh.

CF: You performed successfully in tournaments like Asia Cup. Is it a good message for other umpires in Bangladesh?

Mukul: Of course, those of you in the media knows everything about sports. We Bangladeshi umpires never come to positive discussion, always in negative discussions. If you look around the world, the best cricketers come to umpiring. Bangladesh does not have that environment.

I believe, if we can finish the tournament successfully, it will definitely create a big platform for the umpires of Bangladesh. Following this success, many will express interest in umpiring in Bangladesh. Most importantly we have to try and focus on two areas. The two areas are economic and social, I believe many umpires will come forward from Bangladesh and dominate the world.

CF: You have umpired in both India-Pakistan matches. Did you feel any pressure in such a high-voltage match?

Mukul: There wasn’t really any pressure but it was quite thrilling to do umpiring in such a big match. I was more confident in the second match compared to the first match. Look, India vs Pakistan match is the biggest match in world cricket. To be a part of this match was a huge experience. And being able to successfully complete the match. I am very lucky that I managed both matches successfully. Of course, it will be memorable for me. It makes me even more excited when I see over one billion viewers watched the game.

CF: You have been working for a long time. How did you actually come to umpiring?

Mukul: It's really a funny story. I don’t share it with everyone. Only those who are very close to me know. I had a 19-year cricketing career. All cricketers (Bangladeshi) actually have a dream to play for the national team. In our time Bangladesh did not tour consistently. We used to visit once or twice a year. The U-19 team might have had one tour or the 'A' team might have had a game. I couldn't really establish myself in either of those. There was no anger but pain towards myself that I may not have the ability to wear the logo of Bangladesh. I never wanted to get into umpiring. I wanted to go into coaching or manager post.

One day, late Masud Bhai [Afzarul Rahman Masum] who was the member of the umpires committee and was also a cricketer. We had land phones then. One day, he called me on the landline and said you have to do umpiring. I said I can't do that. Later he said just take the exam. Later I took the exam around year of 2001-02. I continued playing till 2006. After leaving the game, Cricket Australia was offering a course on umpiring. The first day I went to the umpiring course I was given a white t-shirt. I still have that t-shirt. That t-shirt had the logo of Bangladesh on the left side. Then, I realized that after playing cricket for 19 years, I could not wear a logo of Bangladesh on my own merit. But when I came to umpiring, I got the logo? Then I thought I will do the umpiring. I used to have a job, left that too for umpiring. Then I gave 100% attention to umpiring. Because after 19 years I can carry a logo. That actually inspired me to umpiring.

CF: Are BCB giving enough support for all the umpires as you want?

Mukul: Look, at one time even the Bangladesh team did not get enough opportunities. When Shakib, Tamim, Mushfiq, Mashrafe introduced the flavor of Bangladesh cricket to the world, then the Bangladesh Cricket Board gave more focus on the cricketers. One thing I have always followed that I am not happy to put the blame on anyone. I think if we the umpires could take it to the next level, the board will pay more attention than now. We need to perform better without looking at what the board is doing or not doing. So that the board pays more attention to us.

One thing we have been able to prove and make people believe is that we are also the flag bearer of Bangladesh. Secondly, the stronger socio-economic status, the better our umpiring standard will flourish. If I can't run my family by umpiring all year round, if I don't have an identity in the society, then I won’t able to do this job. The stronger you make our umpires economically and socially, the more quality umpires you will get from Bangladesh.

CF: A Bangladeshi umpire is in the Asia Cup final is a matter of pride for any Bangladeshi. How does it excite you to be the pride of the country's huge cricket audience?

Mukul: I am proud of myself. We actually never got this much hype before. We are proud to think that you are proud of us. Now we are very happy that you [Journalists] or the general supporters are thinking about the umpires. But you didn't think about us like this even two days ago. You might have contacted me on a personal basis, which is a different context but you didn't focus on us like this before. The focus is on us because we have been able to give something to the nation or the country. Same goes for our board. They will give more attention than before. It is not right to ask for something from someone if you do not give it by yourself.

CF: Is umpiring in the Asia Cup a turning point of your career?

Mukul: Of course. Look, to be honest there was a time when I thought I wouldn't do umpiring. Because I missed the U-19 World Cup due to Corona at the beginning of the year. In a career of so many years, there has never been a question about my place of trust in domestic cricket. Not in the mainstream media, but in the social media, my integrity was questioned because of a small mistake I made. Why did I miss the ICC event? Because my visa came late. I was actually having a bit of a bad time because of this. I have continued umpiring depending on only two things. I always believed that Allah had something good in store for me. Another thing was, I thought if I give up, those who question my integrity will win. I have continued umpiring depending on these two things. Our umpiring in the Asia Cup will change the scenario a lot. The challenge is we have to continue it. If we can't continue this, we will stay where we were.