Will Shakib's second stint be any better? | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, December 15, 2017 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:37 PM, December 16, 2017


Will Shakib's second stint be any better?

Shakib Al Hasan was just a 23-year-old aspiring all-rounder when he was entrusted the captaincy for the first time. The Tigers were in the Caribbeans and the Test skipper for the tour, Mashrafe Bin Mortaza, injured himself on the very first day of the first Test.

An unprepared, yet confident, Shakib stepped in and led Bangladesh to a brilliant 2-0 series win over the West Indies in their own den. The feat of course was diluted because the West Indies had not fielded their strongest possible side due to internal disputes. However, that series provided the Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) an insight into Shakib's captaincy abilities.

Fast-forward six months and Shakib was handed the captaincy officially. He would go on to lead the Test team for a little more than a year, from January 2010 to August 2011. In between, Bangladesh would play eight Tests against India, England, New Zealand and Zimbabwe. It was a tough period and the Tigers didn't win a single game. The defeat against Zimbabwe in August 2011 led to Shakib getting axed.

Shakib's captaincy did not hurt his performance. Neither was he criticised for his tactics on the field as much back then. It wouldn't be wrong to say that he managed to make the most of an inexperienced Bangladeshi team. 

However, his inability to keep the team united off the field was what eventually led to his fall. According to the BCB, there were reports of indiscipline against both Shakib and former vice-captain Tamim Iqbal during the Zimbabwe tour and as a result, they were both relieved from their leadership roles.

Back then communication off the field with players was poor and efforts weren't made to keep members of the team motivated. Shakib was easily the most sought-after player of the country, with international acclaim and huge demand. However, many say that fame had gotten the better of him. 

Six years on and the BCB has reverted to its best player. The move is an opportunity for the left-hander to further explore the intricacies of the longest format as a captain, a position he wasn't able to enjoy for long.

On a personal level, it can give him a chance to think more about the longest version of the game as opposed to T20 cricket, the format that keeps him the busiest. That's a challenge that he will have to ace if he wants to excel in this field.

A lot has changed in Bangladesh's cricket over the last six years. The left-hander himself has grown and is a lot more mature than the last time he was given the captaincy role. The job is also likely to be a lot easier than the previous stint. The mentality of the players has changed. They are a lot more professional now. Strategies of team management have developed. Shakib's insight can only further improve the overall output.

The change in captaincy also highlights a number of other interesting aspects. The first thing that it brings to the fore is that the Tigers don't have many captaincy options. Mushfiqur Rahim led the Tigers from 2011 to 2017. While he did enjoy a long run, his captaincy was constantly criticised. The long run he received, though, was partly because the BCB did not really have any other option.

Tamim Iqbal, who served as Mushfiqur's deputy for a number of years, was replaced by Mahmudullah Riyad last week. It just goes to show that the board has now changed plans and is thinking of someone else as Shakib's backup.

The other question that arises is whether the board actually has a plan to find someone who can lead the team in the future. Most of the senior players are of the same age and are likely to retire at the same time. That would lead to a huge vacuum in the team.

Last week's move also means that Mushfiqur, who was in charge of both the ODI and Test teams prior to 2015, does not officially have any leadership position in the team. Truth be told, the move to replace Mushfiqur has been on the cards for the last three years. While a number of Bangladesh's historic wins came towards the end of his tenure, the team management has always had issues with him.

During the final innings of Bangladesh's historic Test win against England, the team management reportedly instructed Tamim Iqbal to take over unofficially, since the team strategy was not being followed. The board also did not like some of the comments Mushfiqur made during the South Africa series.

It wouldn't be wrong to state that Bangladesh is at a crucial juncture as far as Test cricket is concerned. They have beaten England, Australia and Sri Lanka. There's no doubt that bringing on Shakib as captain, arguably the team's best cricketing mind, can help capitalise on this momentum and move to the next level.

Follow Naimul Karim @naimonthefield

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