DHAKA: Disbelief, outrage and the anticipation of more revelations tumbling out – that summed up the mood in Bangladesh after the two-year ban (one year suspended) on Shakib Al Hasan for not reporting three bookie approaches.
There was plenty of support for the Bangladesh allrounder. After the news became public, social media was inundated with messages backing Shakib, including from his wife, his team-mates, friends, and fans. The day after, newspapers ran front-page headlines while there has been round-the-clock coverage in the news channels.
Bangladesh ODI captain Mashrafe Mortaza, on his Facebook page, wrote of his shock but also hoped for a strong comeback from his long-time colleague.
“Definitely I will have some sleepless nights seeing the recent incidents of my comrade of 13 years. But I can also sleep in peace soon knowing full well that he will lead us to the 2023 World Cup. Because the name is Shakib Al Hasan,” Mashrafe wrote.
Mushfiqur Rahim, who had gone to the same school and college as Shakib, wrote that he was going to be sad not to have his mate around for the foreseeable future. “Age level.. international… over 18 years of playing cricket together… very sad to even think about playing without you on the field. Hoping that you come back soon like a champ. You always have my support and whole of Bangladesh. Stay strong In Sha Allah.”
On to the newspapers, and Biswajit Roy wrote in The Daily Star, “You have name and fame and yes, you have had also some blunders in terms of discipline in your career. But what was revealed on the 29th October 2019 will remain the subject of bemusement.”
Bengali daily Kaler Kantho, meanwhile, revealed that Tamim Iqbal was also among the seven cricketers that the ICC’s anti-corruption unit had spoken to in January this year, as part of their investigation into Deepak Aggarwal, the bookie named in the Shakib files. But Tamim, who had blocked the individual on WhatsApp after being sent a few messages, had immediately reported him to the BCB’s anti-corruption unit, so in January, he was cleared by the ICC’s ACU. It is, however, not known who the other five Bangladeshi cricketers are.
At the same time, many average fans on social media questioned the timing of the announcement, especially in light of recent events in Bangladesh cricket, even though the ICC had clearly marked out the timeline of its investigation in its press statement.
One post on Facebook said: “Something just does not smell right. I hope BCB had nothing to do with the timing!!”. Actor Ariq Anam Khan wrote, “So much happened due to a small mistake. I can’t believe someone, as experienced as Shakib, can make such an error. I didn’t expect this to happen. For nothing he got tainted. Come back soon Shakib.”
Shakib led a players’ strike from October 21 to 23, which ended when the BCB promised to fulfill all the players’ demands. But during the strike and in the days following it, BCB president Nazmul Hassan had gone on a smear campaign against Shakib, who had in the meantime also signed a deal with a telecom company that was deemed “unlawful” by the board.
SHAKIB’S ABSENCE ‘WILL WORK AS MOTIVATION FOR US’
Named Bangladesh’s T20I captain just over an hour after Shakib Al Hasan was banned by the ICC on Tuesday, Mahmudullah has called on his players to “play with our heart” in the three-match series in India.
Shakib’s absence has weakened an already depleted team further. Tamim Iqbal had earlier opted out of the tour, while Mohammad Saifuddin was sidelined with an injury. Mohammad Mithun, Taijul Islam and Abu Hider have since been brought in as replacements, with Mahmudullah promoted to the leadership role.
The conversations centred on Shakib as the team assembled at the airport in Dhaka for the trip across to New Delhi, where the first T20I will be played on November 3.
“We have to play with our heart for the country,” Mahmudullah said. “I think this [Shakib’s absence] will work as motivation for us. I think there’s no greater honour than playing for the country. The responsibility to lead the side lies with me, so I will try to give it my all.
“The statistics don’t lie. It is a tough ask, but it is not impossible. We have to perform as a team, and ensure we take advantage of every opportunity.”
Bangladesh will play two Test matches, including a day-nighter in Kolkata, after the T20Is, with Mominul Haque leading the long-format side.