Shakib Al Hasan on 2019 World Cup high and dealing with ICC ban

A few months after he amassed 606 runs in the ODI World Cup, Shakib Al Hasan accepted three charges of breaching the ICC anti-corruption code for failing to report approaches in two tournaments in 2018.

Shakib Al Hasan is the first player to score 600 runs and take 10 wickets in a single World Cup.

Around this time last year, Shakib Al Hasan was basking in World Cup glory. The Bangladesh all-rounder had a dream run at the tournament, where he amassed 606 runs.

But things went haywire within a few months.

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In November, Shakib accepted three charges of breaching the International Cricket Council’s (ICC) anti-corruption code for failing to report approaches in two tournaments in 2018 — a One-Day International (ODI) tri-series in January and an Indian Premier League (IPL) match when he featured for Sunrisers Hyderabad.

Since then, life has been challenging for the 33-year-old.

But Shakib admits that with the help of his friends and family, he has been able to get over the past. He will be eligible to return to international cricket on October 29, and Shakib plans to start training soon.

Currently in Wisconsin, United States, with family, Shakib’s daily routine has changed in the last few months. In April, Shakib and his wife, Umme Ahmed Shishir, welcomed their second child. “Since then, the daily routine has changed. I am awake at night and sleep in the morning. But it’s fun,” he says.

In a chat with Sportstar, the Bangladesh superstar speaks on a range of issues...

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How have you been since the lockdown?

Overall, it has been a tough situation for people around the world. For me, it has been okay so far. I was blessed with a second child recently, so I spend most of the time with my daughters, and that keeps me busy. So, I am enjoying my time with the family.

Most cricketers have started basic training. What’s the scene with you?

I still have three-and-a-half months left (for the suspension to end), so I will start preparing myself in another month or so. I have enough time, so I am not rushing things and haven’t started training yet.

The outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic had halted cricket across the globe. Now that international cricket has returned after four months, what are your thoughts?

I personally feel that we should not be thinking too much about the rule changes or the other protocols, and should focus on the game. It is a great feeling to see cricket returning after a four-month hiatus. It was important to start somewhere and the Tests between England and the West Indies will give confidence to all the teams, and they will start believing that the game may slowly resume in other parts of the world as well. It was refreshing to see the West Indies putting up a good show in the first Test. The most satisfying bit is that both teams could complete the game smoothly. In such trying times, that’s what matters. It’s not really about a win or a defeat, it’s about boosting the confidence of players and all the other stakeholders.

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Do you think that a bio-bubble environment is feasible in the Asian subcontinent?

I think if all the boards try desperately, then it is definitely possible to create a bio-secure bubble. And once that’s done, we can again think of resuming cricket in a safe and secured environment.

Around this time last year, you were basking in World Cup glory. But things have changed completely ever since. How challenging was it to accept the ban?

It has been difficult. The first few months were extremely difficult, but my near and dear ones always stood by me. After that, I have been busy with my kids, so there have been distractions. I, of course, want to come back to cricket and it has been frustrating to stay away from cricket for all this while. But there are only a few months left (for the suspension to get over), and I hope things get better and I can return to cricket.

Cricketers are considered demigods in this part of the world. Not many know what a cricketer goes through in such challenging phases. How tough has it been mentally? How have you coped?

Initially, it was difficult. My relatives, close friends and family have always supported me — that has helped me overcome the initial challenges. I am now optimistic that things will get back to normal soon and I will soon get ready to return to cricket. I think I have left the difficult days behind and now it’s time to move forward. I am looking forward to playing cricket again.

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How shocking was the whole incident?

Look, I made the mistake. I should not have taken the matter lightly. So it was not a shock, it was more of repenting my action. It was disappointing that I failed to react in time.

But then, to err is human, and now it is important to get over it and learn from my mistakes. For every individual, that’s the most important thing.

Cricketers have been soft targets. What would you advise the youngsters so that they can be careful of corruption traps?

My only advice would be that they should be careful and not make similar mistakes. They should take lessons from us and ensure that they don’t commit similar errors.

Is it at all possible to avoid such things? Now, as you look back, what do you think could have been done differently?

I am sure everyone wants to play it safe, but the only thing that should be factored in is that nothing should be taken lightly. If there are any approaches or such things, it is necessary to take things seriously and follow the protocol. A bit of lackadaisical approach could lead to graver errors — that’s something one has to keep in mind. It is important to realise the consequences and not repeat the errors.

Shakib Al Hasan, flanked by Bangladesh Cricket Board officials, addresses the media following his ban from all cricket for two years, with one year suspended, after he accepted three charges of breaching the ICC anti-corruption code. “...to err is human, and now it is important to get over it and learn from my mistakes. For every individual, that’s the most important thing,” says the former Bangladesh captain.

 

As you eye a return to cricket, what are your initial targets?

I have not planned anything as such. But I would likely to start from where I had left, and to achieve that, I will do everything that’s required. I will work hard.

How would you rate the year 2019?

I would call it a year of highs and lows. It took me to the peak of my career during the World Cup, but at the same time, life hit rock bottom later in the year. It has been a mixed-bag year, but I will always be happy for the memories of the World Cup. It was a lovely experience. The year, however, ended on a disappointing note due to the suspension. I really felt sorry with the way it ended!

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There has been an overhaul in Bangladesh cricket. What’s the way forward for the team?

I am sure they will do a fine job. It’s just that we have to start playing cricket. When things start, the coaching staff will show us the right path and we will be able to get back into shape.

I am confident about that. We are in good shape. We will move further, and in the next three or four years, this team will be more matured and developed. I am confident that we will go far.

How do you see things panning out over the next few years?

I am not looking too far (ahead). The current plan is to return to the game and give my best. The primary target is to start somewhere, and once things start, I will figure out the road ahead.

These days, what’s your daily routine?

Routine has gone for a toss (laughs). These days, I need to keep awake at night and sleep in the morning. I am quite used to it by now. It’s fun to be around kids!

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You said that a lot of people close to you have helped you in these gloomy days. What has been the reaction of your teammates?

My family, friends have always been around. I have even been in regular touch with most of my teammates, and they have never made me realise that I am going through a difficult time. They have always boosted my morale, and whenever we talk, we never discuss that (the suspension).

The IPL will be held in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) this year, and you will be missing out. Being a seasoned campaigner in the tournament, how has your experience been?

The overall experience has been amazing. The IPL has played a huge role in my career. I have learnt so many things. This is the best franchise-based tournament in the world. So, if you are part of such a tournament for a long time, you eventually end up learning a lot.

I must admit that the IPL has played a huge role in my cricketing career, there is no doubt about that.