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Why does Shakib really want a break?

  • Published at 07:16 am September 15th, 2017
Why does Shakib really want a break?
Shakib Al Hasan has asked the BCB for a six-month-long break from Test cricket and has been granted a break from the first Test against the Proteas, which starts later this month. For a team always clamouring for more and more international games, this might come as a surprise, but for Shakib it does make sense. See, he plays lots of franchise T20 cricket -- a lot more than what other top players in the world do in fact. Players like Virat Kohli, Steve Smith, and Joe Root all have played much less T20 cricket than Shakib has this year. It’s been a relentless season for the Number One ranked all-rounder in all formats of the game. In fact, he’s had no break since the turn of the New Year. He’s played the most number of matches across all formats for Bangladesh since his debut over a decade ago, but what really seems to have broken the camel’s back is the workload he had to endure during the two Tests against Australia and the over-reliance on him. He bowled over 90 overs in the two Tests and had to do quite a bit of batting in the first innings of the first Test as well. But it was evident that as the first Test match went on, fatigue seeped in. Workhorse derby He found a second wind in the fourth innings and helped Bangladesh to a historic victory, while also grabbing the Man of the Match award. In the second Test, he looked even more spent, and after bowling over 30 overs in the first innings, he managed just one wicket. He got out cheaply in both innings while batting and in the second innings, he really didn’t have much runs to bowl at. Bangladesh lost the match. It’s almost a case of “if Shakib fails, Bangladesh fails,” especially in Tests. We don’t really have an alternative to him either. Mehedi Hasan Miraz might be seen as the long-term successor to Shakib but he is far from the finished article, especially with the bat and against pace. South African conditions will be perfect for the pacers, and our spinners and batsmen will be tested to the fullest. Perhaps this is going to be Bangladesh’s toughest series in recent memory -- and this has been made all the more difficult without Shakib.
With all the mismanagement going on inside the team and the BCB, perhaps this is the first sign of long-forming cracks starting to appear on the surface
Now, given that Shakib isn’t playing the first Test and has been told by the BCB to play the second Test, if he’s up for it, begs the question as to how it reached this situation in the first place. Workload aside, the monetary aspect needs to be looked into as well. We know that T20s, especially franchise-based T20 leagues (where Shakib plays in six of them throughout the year) pays more than what international Test matches do. The effort of bowling up to four overs in a T20 is also much less than what it is for bowling, on average, 40 overs a Test. Money talks, walks, and plays If the ICC is worried about the future of Test cricket and its growth, then player management must fall under it. Already we have seen top players like AB de Villiers take a prolonged break from Tests to manage his workload while still playing franchise-based T20 cricket. The top-level Indian players don’t seem to have such issues as they don’t play franchise-based cricket in other countries apart from their own IPL. Plus they’re better remunerated. The BCB has no shortage of money to pay top-level cricketers and keep them better managed and motivated. There is no reason why this cannot be done to better ensure that cricketers don’t go off playing so many franchise T20 leagues. Even though the players’ salaries just recently got an increment, it is still not enough to compete with the likes of England, Australia, and India. A simple example of how workload has been managed just needs to be seen in the cases of England’s all-time leading Test wicket-taker James Anderson and all-time leading run-scorer Alaister Cook. They’ve both played over 100 Tests each and look good for many more years in the Test arena. However, they are not part of the limited overs team, nor are they chasing franchise-based T20 cricket. They’re paid well enough. With all the mismanagement going on inside the team and the BCB (starting from selection to the way the game has been managed in the first-class level), perhaps this is the first sign of long-forming cracks starting to appear on the surface. Shakib has just recently said he wants to play international cricket for five to six more years, but, at this rate, he’ll burn out within the next year or two. It’s time that the BCB stepped in, remunerated the players properly, and got a hold of a situation that could well get out of hand and hamper our cricket’s long-term future. Shahnoor Rabbani is a radio show host and cricket commentator at Radio Shadhin 92.4 FM.
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