• Thursday, Feb 21, 2019
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Steve: Shakib fitter than has been claimed

  • Published at 06:43 pm September 6th, 2018
Bangladesh head coach Steve Rhodes briefs the media in Dhaka in September as captain Mashrafe bin Mortaza looks on Dhaka Tribune/Md Manik

According to former English cricketer Steve Rhodes, Shakib al Hasan is in no different state than what he was in the West Indies tour a month back

Bangladesh cricket team head coach Steve Rhodes believes all-rounder Shakib al Hasan’s fitness is much better than has been claimed. 

Shakib had hit the headlines Wednesday after it was revealed that he was only 20 to 30% match fit following his left little finger injury. The statement coming from the Test and T20I captain had raised concern in the cricket fraternity, given that the Asia Cup is just over a week away.

According to former English cricketer Steve, Shakib is in no different state than what he was in the West Indies tour a month back. 

Despite the injury, which was picked up in January this year, Shakib had a brilliant Caribbean tour, scoring four half-centuries and bagging 13 wickets across the series consisting Tests, ODIs and T20Is.

“I don’t believe he is 20-30% fit. I think he is a lot fitter than that. That sort of statement has hit the headline. I am pretty sure Shakib is a lot fitter than that. He is in no real different state to the state in the West Indies where he played some fantastic cricket with bat, ball, and in the field,” said Steve to the media at Mirpur Sher-e-Bangla National Cricket Stadium in Dhaka Thursday.

“Everybody knows that he does need the operation. He has made that decision after speaking to the (BCB) president [Nazmul Hasan]. Asia Cup is very important to Bangladesh. He is not fully fit. But if he plays anything like he played in the Caribbean, then that will be a massive asset to Bangladesh cricket. This guy is a tremendous cricketer. Even if Shakib was 60-70% fit, you’d get a lot of cricket out of Shakib al Hasan,” the former wicketkeeper-batsman added.

Shakib in an interview to one of the national English dailies stated that he is unaware of how he would react to cricket as he has been out of practice for quite some time now. Shakib also said he would straightaway go to the surgery table if he does not feel fine once reporting to the team in Dubai. 

Bangladesh will begin their campaign at the six-nation Asia Cup taking on Sri Lanka at Dubai International Cricket Stadium next Saturday. 

Shakib after performing Hajj in Saudi Arabia is now is the USA to spend time with family. 

When queried if Shakib not training with the team in Dhaka is sending a different message to his teammates, Steve said, “The short answer is, I feel no. It doesn’t make an impact on the rest of the team. My philosophy is very much about team, and trying to make sure all the guys play for each other. Shakib is really, really respected by the rest of his colleagues in the dressing room. It is one side of it. They respect and understand Shakib. The time-off with family, I think it is important that everybody does realise that Shakib plays a lot of cricket. He doesn’t just bat. He bowls and fields and captains as well. He plays all formats.

“In making sure Shakib is playing at his best and freshest, we can give him opportunities to be with his family. It will make him a better player. He has done all the practice when he was younger. He did it out in the middle, bowling 50 overs every innings in Tests."

Meanwhile, talking about his first multi-nation assignment as Bangladesh head coach, Steve said he and his charges believe they can win the Asia Cup, but they would also keep in mind the ability of the competing teams. 

Bangladesh in Group B will have to compete with Sri Lanka and Afghanistan to qualify for the second phase of the tournament where they are likely to meet might sides in the shape of India and Pakistan.

“If I was looking at a crystal ball, I could have told you that we have won the Asia Cup. But I don’t have it. There are other mighty teams in Asia – India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Afghanistan. We believe we can. If we try our best, give the 100%, and play some good cricket and believe we can win, which probably is a good question for Mashrafe [bin Mortaza] and the rest of the team,” said Steve.

“I think it would be a wonderful achievement for us to win the Asia Cup. We are going there full of confidence. We are ranked higher than the West Indies but those were still tough games. Winning there gave the team a lot of confidence. We have two games to qualify, which is the most important thing. We shouldn’t assume that we will get into the next group. We play well against Sri Lanka and Afghanistan, then it will add to the confidence. Then if we are in the last stages of the tournament, why wouldn’t you believe that you could win?” said the Tigers’ head coach.