Former Bangladesh captain and national selector Habibul Bashar is shocked that Shakib Al Hasan didn’t report corrupt approaches to the ICC and believes it would be tough, if not impossible, for the banned all-rounder to mount a comeback.
The world’s No 1 One-day International all-rounder was on Tuesday banned by the International Cricket Council for two years – one year being a suspended sentence – for failing to report corrupt approaches from an alleged bookie Deepak Aggarwal on three occasions, including one during the 2018 Indian Premier League.
While Bashar expects the 32-year-old, who has over 11,000 runs and more than 500 wickets across three formats, to be back after the ban, he also admitted that it will be easier said than done.
“It is a tough ask,” Bashar told PTI. “Shakib will be out of cricket for a year, which will be mentally tough for him. After one year, to first make a comeback, and then strive to reach where you were before the ban is a tall order but not impossible.
Bashar added, “Because the name of the player is Shakib, I have faith in his ability and talent. There have been spells of injuries, where has been out for three to six months. I have seen him make comebacks from rehabilitation and then very quickly get back into the groove. He is a seasoned player and there’s no reason that he can’t do it again.”
For now, Bashar is yet to get over the shock of Shakib not reporting the corrupt approaches to the ICC’s anti-corruption unit. As a young player the star all-rounder had played under Bashar’s captaincy.
“It is shocking for me. But I will take solace from the fact that having known Shakib for long, I knew he would never indulge in any corrupt practice. That he has not been indicted by the ICC on corruption charges is a big relief as far as I am concerned.
“But yeah, I am also surprised like anyone as to why a mature boy like Shakib didn’t report the matter to the ICC’s anti-corruption unit.”
Bashar admitted that the ban was a big setback to Bangladesh cricket. Shakib had been in a rich vein of form and was one of the star players during the World Cup earlier this year. “It is undoubtedly a big blow for Bangladesh cricket. A player of Shakib’s calibre won’t be available for a year. It’s a huge setback but we need to move on from this and emerge stronger as a team.”
Bashar said the focus should now be on the India series, which begins on November 3. “It’s not that we have not played without Shakib in the past. We have played and also won matches in his absence. Obviously, we will miss him but we have got to do with the resources that we have,” Bashar said.
“Those who would be playing need to put their hands up and take extra responsibility. Our focus shouldn’t waiver as everything from now, planning, strategy, execution should only be around this series.”
The Bangladesh Cricket Board has preferred 28-year-old Mominul Haque for Test captaincy and Bashar feels it is the right move as he was being groomed for the top job.
“There has been a lot of thought that had gone into making Mominul the captain,” the 47-year-old said. “He was being groomed by the BCB to take over Test captaincy in near future. Players like Shakib, [Mahmudullah] Riyad will be playing for a few more years but as far as captaincy is concerned, we need to look at future options.
“Mominul has been the Bangladesh A team captain for the last two years and he is someone we have all seen, can keep his calm under pressure. He can handle pressure. So he is the best bet as far as Bangladesh is concerned.”