By Faisal Caesar
As Dhaka gears up for the spectacular presence of Lionel Messi in the Argentina-Nigeria clash, comes the news of Shakib Al Hasan’s axing as captain of Bangladesh. The vice-captain, Tamim Iqbal, also loses his leadership role.
Shakib’s removal has everything to do with his arrogant off-field behaviour in recent times. On the field, he has always been dynamic. He took over as captaincy when Mashrafe Mortaza was sidelined by injury in the West Indies-New Zealand game. And since then he had been the undisputed leader, raising Bangladesh’s stocks internationally while emerging as an icon figure in Bangladesh cricket.
The recent series against Zimbabwe was abysmal and Shakib’s captaincy was not at its best. What made it worst for him was his arrogant off-field behaviour.
The Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) should have resorted to correcting Shaikb’s arrogance than axe him from the captaincy. The BCB should have factored Shakib’s age. It’s not unnatural for a 24-year-old to allow name, fame, money and success to get into his head. But a sound mentoring system could have helped the young man who has much to offer Bangladesh cricket. Instead, the rash decision by the BCB must have sown the seeds of discord between the talented Shaikb and the board that may have long-term damage.
A team whose average age is around 20-25 needs guidance of a person or a team who will teach the youngsters of how to handle fame and exhibit the right attitude on and off the field. If the board thinks that they might not find the perfect person to run this monitoring system in Bangladesh, then they could seek help from Australia, England or South Africa.
Team India is going through the biggest horrors since their 1999-00 tour Down Under. The team landed in England as the World Cup champions and the best Test side in the world. But after a 0-4 whitewash, the Indians are down in the dumps. Captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni, out of form with the bat and behind the stumps, is a far cry from the leader the world knows as “Captain Cool”.
But will the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) sack Dhoni as captain? One can almost say with a degree of certainty that they won’t. Dhoni is the best captain for India and the BCCI knows he will turn around things soon.
Like Dhoni, Shakib is the best choice as the captain for Bangladesh. For the last two years Shakib has gelled well with the team and surely he knows the pros and cons of captaincy very well. He is a natural leader and has all the qualities of a leader who has a lot to offer in the future.
Off-field behaviour must not be the criteria to axe a captain. An open talk with Shakib by the board chief and the selection committee could have sort out all the problems. But, sadly, that was not to be.
Mushfiqur Rahim could take over from Shakib. But it’s a pity that the man most qualified to lead Bangladesh won’t be there at the helm.
(Faisal Caesar is a doctor by profession whose dream of becoming a cricketer remained a dream. But his passion is very much alive and he translates that passion in writing about the game)