Last chance for Shakib to right the wrongs of 2011

Shakib Al HasanProthom Alo

Even before completing three years in international cricket, Shakib Al Hasan had become a captain after a dramatic turn of events. At the twilight of his career, the crown of captaincy once again rests on Shakib’s head. But that’s not entirely correct, is it? Shakib has been the captain for some time now in Tests and Twenty20s. I mean, isn’t he the guy who goes out for the toss wearing the Bangladesh blazer in Tests?

Yes, he is. And that’s why calling him ‘captain Shakib’ is nothing new. So, no matter how many more crowns are placed on his head, it shouldn’t evoke any new emotion. But in this case it does, because there is an added significance to him being named the new captain in ODIs.

Firstly, he is once again the captain in all three formats. This is the first time since 2014 that Bangladesh have the same captain in Tests, ODIs and T20s. There’s another fact even more important than that. Shakib has been named the captain for two tournaments and one of them is the World Cup. Meaning, Shakib will lead the Bangladesh team in the next World Cup in India in the coming October-November.

Before the World Cup, there is the Asia Cup. In between the Asia Cup and the World Cup there is a three-match ODI series against New Zealand. As that series is sandwiched between two important tournaments, it’s not getting much attention. But that series is also in the agenda of ODI captain Shakib.

Shakib Al Hasan will lead Bangladesh in the World Cup in India
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The Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) president has left some ambiguity over whether or not Shakib will remain as the captain in all three formats after the World Cup. Shakib’s frequent stints in franchise leagues all around the world and the pressure of captaining the side in all three formats are the reasons behind this ambiguity. Even if his ability to expertly balance his on and off the field engagements says otherwise, his age can’t be ignored. He crossed 36 last month.

Whether Shakib can do it or not, that can be discussed at some other time. For now, the bigger relief is that with less than two months to go before the World Cup, the drama surrounding captaincy has finally reached its conclusion. To talk about the captaincy drama, one has to inevitably talk about Tamim Iqbal’s resignation as captain on 3 August or about his shock retirement from cricket about a month before. From the day Tamim stepped down as captain, it was quite obvious that the ODI crown will be given to Shakib, making him the holder of the triple crown. All everyone was waiting for was the official announcement.

That announcement too came after its fair share of drama. Usually in cricket, captaincy changes are declared in a grand manner. And in this case, cricket’s grandest event, the World Cup, is also attached. Naturally, it was expected that the new captain will be announced in a press conference. This is the norm in cricket. But the news of Shakib becoming captain came from the garage of the BCB president’s residence. That too without informing all journalists beforehand. The press release from the BCB came much later. But just like Shakib’s appointment as captain, this can’t be termed as a big surprise. In the past few years, many important decisions of Bangladesh cricket have come from the car park of the BCB president’s Gulshan residence.

Shakib Al Hasan had an incredible World Cup in 2019
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When it was announced that Shakib will be the ODI captain once again after 12 years, the all-rounder was in Sri Lanka. He also had a match at the Lankan Premier League (LPL) on Friday night. In the BCB press release, there was a statement from the BCB president but there was no reaction from Shakib. An attempt to get Shakib’s reaction personally also came up short. A congratulatory message was sent to Shakib on Whatsapp, to which the all-rounder’s response was a simple ‘Thank you.’ Even though Shakib has a reputation of being emotionally detached, there is no way that Shakib was completely untouched by the joy of leading the country in a World Cup. Especially, as his previous experience as a captain in a World Cup wasn’t too pleasant.

He was also the captain in the 2011 World Cup. As Bangladesh was one of the hosts in that World Cup, the World Cup frenzy had taken over the entire country. Shakib’s Bangladesh won three matches, which included a remarkable victory over England as well. But the agony of getting bundled out for 58 against the West Indies in Mirpur and getting all out for 78 against South Africa all but completely diminished joy of that victory.

The World Cup in India is likely to be Shakib Al Hasan's last dance in the grandest cricketing competition
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Shakib, enraged by the criticisms of the former cricketers after the World Cup, wrote a scathing column in Prothom Alo which further fueled the fire. In the last World Cup of his career, after a surprising turn of events, Shakib is once again the captain. It’s natural that Shakib will be dreaming to get rid of all controversies and disappointments of the 2011 World Cup.

A few days ago, during a conversation over the phone, when I said, “This will be your final World Cup,” Shakib began laughing and replied, “How do you know this will be my last World Cup?” One doesn’t need to be Einstein to figure that out. The next World Cup after the upcoming one will be played in 2027. By then, Shakib will be 41 and surely will no longer be playing! “I think about playing even in the 2031 World Cup,” said Shakib. But it would be wiser to take this statement from Shakib as a joke.

Four years ago, Shakib had a memorable World Cup to see the least, lighting up the tournament with an all-round performance never before see in the competition. He might jokingly say that he will play in the 2031 World Cup, realistically, it’s unlikely that he will play even in the 2027 World Cup. This is the last time Shakib will play in the ODI World Cup. Shakib also must want to mark his last dance in the tournament in a spectacular manner. And who has a better opportunity to do that than the captain!

*This report appeared in the print and online edition of Prothom Alo and has been rewritten in the English edition by Ashfaq-Ul-Alam Niloy