Mominul Haque‘s press conference at the end of the first day’s play in Indore could be interpreted in many different ways.
The new Bangladesh captain seemed to be riled at the suggestion that his team isn’t used to playing fast bowling. Mominul then tried to delicately broach the idea that journalists’ questions sometimes put the players under more pressure. To be fair, the question was whether the Bangladesh batsmen were scared of India’s fast bowlers, to which no cricketer would ever answer in the affirmative.
“You guys might find it funny but ahead of every series, even against Afghanistan, you [media] have a major role to play,” Mominul said. “This thing can go against me, so don’t take it otherwise, please. When we are playing against Afghanistan, the way you ask questions, by saying they have Rashid Khan, etc. Even if you don’t want to think about them, it will creep into your mind. I just think how you present it makes it difficult.”
Later, when he was asked why he was feeling under pressure at a press conference when he and other cricketers are trained to avoid much more difficult situations in the middle, Mominul didn’t back down.
“I am the one who has to answer your questions, of course, but sometimes we don’t think about a certain thing, and then when you ask us about it, we start thinking about it,” Mominul said. “This is how the mind works. But you’re right. Myself and the rest of the side have to be mentally stronger.”
Throughout the press conference, it was clear that Mominul was relishing the captaincy, so much so that he let go of his usual introverted self and became a lot more outspoken. This was only his second interaction with the media after becoming captain.
But perhaps his inexperience at handling a prickly press conference got the better of him, after a tough day in the field. He perhaps didn’t need to admit that he was at fault for choosing to bat first after winning the toss. Initially, when asked about the toss, he said he would have to live with the burden of the decision since Bangladesh made a low score.
“When you take this decision at the toss and things don’t go your way, these questions will definitely come up,” Mominul said. “Because we were bowled out cheaply, it was probably a bad decision on my part. It was totally my fault. I think if I had batted for longer with Mushfiq [Mushfiqur Rahim] bhai, we would have posted a bigger total.”
Another way to look at Mominul’s decision was that it was a positive one, showing his – and his team’s – willingness to meet the Indian attack head-on. The trust he placed in his batting line-up was remarkable, and perhaps a positive sign from a new captain.
R Ashwin came out with the exact thought in his press conference.
“I personally thought it was a very brave decision to bat first having won the toss,” Ashwin said. “We didn’t expect that. We thought they’ll bowl but they batted first which is very commendable on their part. I also thought some of their batsmen batted beautifully in the morning, it’s never easy to come and play on a wicket that’s got a bit of life. It was damp. And I thought Mominul Haque and some of the other batters batted beautifully.”
It is not as if Mominul isn’t used to harder challenges but handling questions at the end of a long day in the field can get the better of many top players. In only his first day as captain, Mominul can be given some leeway, but this Test series will not just be a test of Mominul the cricketer and new captain of Bangladesh, but also of Mominul the communicator.
Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo’s Bangladesh correspondent. @isam84
ESPN Sports Media Ltd.