A new year has begun; a new cricketing season has already started for the Bangladesh cricket team. And on the occasion of the new year, one of the poster boys of Bangladesh cricket, Shakib al Hasan is dealing with a new challenge and an unfinished business in his career.
The past year, 2017, was a great one for Shakib. He scored plenty of runs and took key wickets in all three formats for the Tigers and also registered his name in the record book on quite a few occasions.
He scored a double century against New Zealand in New Zealand and set the record for the highest individual score in Test cricket by a Bangladeshi. He also scored a hundred in Bangladesh's historic 100th Test match, against Sri Lanka in Colombo. Eventually, Bangladesh won the Test and Shakib was named the man of the match.
Bangladesh recorded a memorable Test win against Australia at home in August and yet again, Shakib played a crucial role behind the victory. The all-rounder scored 84 in the first innings at Mirpur Sher-e-Bangla National Cricket Stadium in Dhaka and took a five-wicket haul in both innings to seal a memorable win for Bangladesh.
Surprisingly, he took a breather just before the away series against South Africa. And Bangladesh missed him heavily in both the Tests as they lost the series comprehensively.
In many aspects, 2017 was an important year for Shakib’s career. After the sudden retirement of Mashrafe bin Mortaza from T20Is, the BCB handed the captaincy to Shakib in the shortest format of the game. And following a poor South Africa series, cricket's governing body in Bangladesh once again appointed Shakib captain. So the new year brings new responsibility for Shakib.
Shakib, who will turn 31 in March, is more matured and experienced compared to his last tenure as captain and after receiving the Test captaincy, Shakib vowed to improve in the longest format.
“It’s a new responsibility. We have been playing well in Test in the last few years. We have won Tests against Sri Lanka, Australia and England at home. So our aim is to improve as a Test team from this point. It’s tough to say how much change will come at first. But it’s important to adjust to the situation first,” said Shakib in his immediate reaction after being named skipper.
“We have some senior players in the squad who are leaders. And we often take decisions together. It’s not important who remains captain or not. When we start playing on the field, everyone’s assistance will be required. And [Mahmudullah] Riyad bhai has been captaining his side brilliantly in BPL in the last few years. He has had leadership quality for many years now. So I think my task will be made easy as he is the vice-captain,” he added.
This is the not the first time Shakib will lead Team Bangladesh. Shakib was previously handed the captaincy in 2009 during Bangladesh’s tour of the West Indies after Mashrafe got injured in the first Test. Later, Bangladesh won the second Test to clinch the series 2-0 against the Windies. The Tigers played eight more Tests under Shakib’s captaincy, losing all of them.
Shakib lost his captaincy in 2011 after the Zimbabwe series where Bangladesh lost the one-off Test and the ODI series 2-3.
When queried about his previous captaincy experience, Shakib answered promptly and said light-heartedly that he has forgotten those incidents.
“I don’t know what happened last time (smiles). What happened? It’s all right. Many things happen in life. I will definitely try to fulfill my duty as captain in the best possible way," said Shakib.
Bangladesh have changed in the last few years in term of performance and attitude. Eight years ago, when Shakib took over the captaincy, he was the key performer of the team. There were not many match-winners around him at that time. But times have changed. Bangladesh cricket has changed. Now Bangladesh have many performers in the squad. The Tigers can even win matches without Shakib or Tamim Iqbal. No doubt a positive sign for Bangladesh cricket.
So this time around, Shakib can lead the side with less pressure. Now the challenge for him is to unite the team under one umbrella. He also needs to maintain the bridge between senior and experienced players and junior and talented players. Shakib knows what he has to do. Let’s hope he can help Bangladesh become a great side in Test and T20I.
“Obviously it will be easier this time. Nowadays almost every cricketer is performing consistently. When players perform, captain’s job becomes easier. I hope everyone will perform. When everybody performs, ultimately the team are benefited,” he said.
Shakib recently sat at the Marylebone Cricket Club’s World Cricket Committee meeting as a representative from Bangladesh. That’s a great honour for him and also for Bangladesh cricket as this is the first time a Bangladeshi has attended such a prestigious event.
Shakib was added to the elite list in October last year with the other three new members – former West Indies all-rounder Ian Bishop, umpire Kumar Dharmasena and New Zealand women's cricketer Suzie Bates. Chairman of the MCC’s WCC, Mike Gatting earlier praised Shakib’s inclusion to the Committee and hoped Shakib will bring valuable contribution.
And so, Shakib passed a brilliant 2017 as a player. Now fans are hoping for an equally brilliant Shakib as a captain in 2018 and in the following years. Good luck, Shakib!
Did you know?
Shakib is the first ever Bangladesh cricketer to be inducted into the Marylebone Cricket Club’s World Cricket Committee.
Shakib in 2017
665 runs (14 innings at an average of 47.5)
29 wickets (14 innings at an average of 33.37)
430 runs (12 inn, ave 35.83)
6 wickets (12 inn, ave 49.5)
64 runs (4 inn, ave 16)
6 wickets (4 inn, ave 17.16)
Shakib finished the year as the Tigers’ second highest run-scorer and highest wicket-taker in Test.
Shakib ended as the Tigers’ third highest run-scorer and fourth highest wicket-taker in ODI.
Shakib finished as the third highest run-scorer and highest wicket-taker in T20I.