Shakib has always been a warrior and came back stronger whenever his back was in the wall, but this time the return may be a bit trickier as some questions are lurking regarding the procedure and road ahead
The covid-19 pandemic has stopped all sorts of sport in Bangladesh and as the players are gradually trying to return to field the supporters will be waiting for another good news. Shakib al Hasan, the ace all-rounder of the country will see his ban from cricketing activities being lifted on October 28 and he is also preparing himself for a return.
Shakib has always been a warrior and came back stronger whenever his back was in the wall, but this time the return may be a bit trickier as some questions are lurking regarding the procedure and road ahead.
Undoubtedly one of the most popular cricket figures of the country, Shakib’s suspension had rocked the cricket fraternity. The left-arm ace all-rounder of the country was imposed with a suspension for two years, with one year of that suspended, after the cricketer accepted three charges of breaching the ICC Anti-Corruption Code. The charges had one point in common – Shakib had failed to disclose to the ACU full details of any approaches or invitations he received to engage in corrupt conduct. Discussion of the suspension was part of every household of the country perhaps more because of the timing of the incident. Around 200 top Bangladesh cricketers had called a strike against Bangladesh Cricket Board [BCB] on October 21, 2019 with Shakib as one of the leaders of the movement. The cricketers had a 13-point demand which the BCB later promised to fulfill and bring the cricketers back to the field. Shakib’s suspension had come about a week later from the strike and this triggered wild rumor amongst the supporters. Fingers were pointed to the board – the suspension was being called a conspiracy against Shakib, a punishment for him to lead the movement. The perception by majority of passionate supporters of Bangladesh cricket however slowly dissolved when they understood the decision against Shakib was part of an investigation that had started almost a year ago. Shakib was in communication with one Deepak Aggarwal, a well known corrupter of the game. Now Shakib is on verge of coming free having stayed away from all from of professional cricket activities for a year and the country will be eagerly waiting for its hero.
Shakib since October last has worked only on fitness and to shred the rust on his skills will need vigorous training program in the nets. Shakib’s initial plan was to set a training camp in England under supervision of two of his favorite mentors – Nazmul Abedin and Mohammad Salauddin. The plan however was forced to change due to the restrictions caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. Now, former Bangladesh captain Shakib is planning to head to his alma mater – BKSP [Bangladesh Krira Shikkha Protishtan] for the camp to start in September as informed by Nazmul Abedin to the media. This plan has however slowly started to raise eyebrows within the fraternity. Shakib’s suspension had clearly mentioned that the cricket during the suspension will not be allowed to use any facilities that falls under the jurisdiction of BCB. BKSP being part of the Dhaka Division Cricket League setup is affiliated with the board. Argument is if Shakib can practice at BKSP why not at any other facilities that come under BCB radar. A few of the decision makers of the board were reached for a comment of this but it is understood that this is something that they still need to set a tone on.
Shakib in the Bangladesh setup is irreplaceable. The left-arm all-rounder comes as vital package to aid both the batting and the bowling but there is a discussion if there should be a process of having Shakib back in the team. Many are in believe that for the stature of a player Shakib is to Bangladesh, he should be part of the side immediately and that is when Bangladesh national team tours Sri Lanka. Bangladesh national team are in schedule to travel to Sri Lanka in the last part of September for a three-match Test series followed by a T20I series and there are claims that Shakib may travel with the team, practice under the national team management’s watch and declare part of the contingent as soon as he completes the suspension. There is however no concrete base to this plan as of yet and it also conflicts with the regulation. If there is an issue with Shakib setting a practice camp at BCB affiliated facilities before his suspension is over, then there surely will be observation of him getting close to the national team setup before October 28 this year, the date his suspension will be finished. Many believe it will be unfair to both the system and Shakib and that the cricketer should be given enough time before getting back to action for the Bangladesh colors.
If there was grief over Shakib getting suspended, there was anger too on the most successful cricketer of the country being callous and put himself in trouble. Shakib had had failed to report two corrupt approaches to the Anti-Corruption Unit and he admitted it shouldn't have come from a player of his stature and that others should take a lesson from this. There was frustration that how could Shakib overlook the dodgy multiple approaches by bookie Deepak Aggarwal despite having been part of innumerable numbers of Anti-Corruption education sessions and being a member of the MCC. Both the ICC and MCC had raised flag on Deepak.
“You have to be honest. You just can't lie to the people and pretend different things. Whatever happened has happened. People are bound to make mistakes. You are not 100%. The important thing is how well you can come back from those mistakes. You can tell other people not to make those mistakes. Tell them the path so that they never take those paths,” said Shakib to a cricket base portal in July.
“It could have happened to someone else and I would have learned from him, but it happened to me so other people can learn from me. I wanted to be honest from the first day. I didn't hide anything from the guys when they were asking me questions. I will say the straightforward things. I made mistakes. It shouldn't happen for a player like me. I apologised for it, and I want to move forward, I want everyone to learn from it and never make these mistakes," Shakib said.
It was seen in the past, when the backs are in the wall Shakib comes out as best. He was at his peak during the World Cup 2019 and he had back in his mind that the investigation was going on and that big stage might be his last chance. So, it can be assumed, after an agonizing year of redemption, he will try to utilize the remaining days of his illustrious career to push himself even higher in the cricket’s hall of fame. And the next 80 day’s journey could be a pivotal to conquer the top position of the cricketing world, where he once used to belong.