Before being handed the captaincy once again in this series, Shakib himself wasn’t a regular player in Tests. There are also rumours that some members of the side are uninterested to play Tests. Bringing this point up, Shakib was asked if the lack of interest from cricketers in red-ball cricket a reason behind Bangladesh’s poor performance in Test cricket. Are the players fully focused in Tests?
Shakib didn’t deny the logic behind the question. Contrarily, he accepted it and said, “It’s not right to blame the players too much. It’s not fair to only blame the players. The system in our country is like this. When have you seen 30 thousand or 25 thousand people show up to watch a Test match in Bangladesh?”
Shakib gave examples of the countries that the fans want the Bangladesh cricket team match or at least get near in terms of results in Tests, “In England, for every match (Test) there is a crowd like that. We never had a Test culture in Bangladesh, we still don’t.”
Bangladesh Test captain feels that everyone has to come together to change the culture if they are to do better in Tests, “We don’t have a Test culture, but that doesn’t mean we can’t cultivate it. Our biggest responsibility is to bring this change. This will only be possible if all of us come together and progress in a planned manner. Otherwise, we won’t progress too much. Because, we don’t have a Test culture.”
Shakib has 16 years of experience in international cricket. From this experience, Shakib feels that Test cricket is not highly valued in Bangladesh. But he didn’t overlook the players’ fault in it.
“It’s not like we value Test cricket a lot. Yes, maybe as we haven’t gotten good results here that’s why we haven’t given it importance. But these things are correlated. We have to connect these aspects, only then we can achieve something good.”
Bangladesh’s next Test assignment will be in November-December this year, against India at home. In the middle period, the skipper wants to go ahead with a fresh plan for Test cricket and for that he wants everyone’s support.
“In this period, the players who want to play Test cricket will maybe try to make improvements individually. There is no substitute to improvement. We don’t have players in the setup who we can bring in and start doing better in Tests. Those of us who are in the team and the two-four other players that are part of the setup, if all of us can progress in a planned way together, only then we can achieve something. If not, there is very little chance of changing the status quo.”
Shakib wants support from the players, coaching staff and cricket board in this plan, “We need to change our thinking. There is work to be done in this regard. All of us have to plan together. It’s impossible to be successful without including everyone in the plan. If all of us sit together and make a plan than 1-1.5 years later we can at least begin to perform consistently.”
But for Shakib, playing well doesn’t mean winning regularly. To him, that means consistency in performances, which will begin from not losing Tests at home anymore.
“I won’t say that we have to win Tests. In abroad, every team is an underdog. New Zealand are the current Test champion. Even they lose when they play abroad. New Zealand, Australia, India every team loses on tours. We have to ensure that we no longer lose at home. Either we will draw or win,” Shakib said.
He believes that improvement in performances at home can take Bangladesh ahead in Tests, “Even then maybe we won’t win Tests regularly. But at least we will play competitive cricket. That’s why it’s important to play the home series’ after proper planning. We need to win, if not we should ensure that it’s a draw. It’s important to ensure that we don’t lose home series. Then, even if we play poorly away from home, it won’t look as bad.”
*This report appeared in the online version of Prothom Alo and has been rewritten for the English edition by Ashfaq-Ul-Alam Niloy