Confusion over Shakib Al Hasan's fitness for the Asia Cup
The BCB has been put in an "awkward and embarrassing" position by the confusion around Shakib Al Hasan's fitness for the Asia Cup. Board director Jalal Yunus said Shakib should have informed the board rather than the media that he feels he is "20-30% fit" for the tournament that begins on September 15 in the UAE.
Shakib injured the little finger on his left hand in January, which forced him out of the home Tests and T20Is against Sri Lanka and the Pakistan Super League. He was supposed to undergo a finger surgery on return from the West Indies tour in the first week of August, and was named in the 16-man Asia Cup squad. It is understood that BCB president Nazmul Hassan suggested shakib could have surgery after the tournament, and skip the Zimbabwe series in October.
However, Shakib contradicted himself in two recent interviews about his fitness, saying that top players can't play with such low levels of fitness.
"The board is put in an awkward and embarrassing situation," Yunus said. "He didn't tell us when the selection was being finalised, or at any other time. It would have been better if he had told us that he was 20-30% fit earlier. He didn't say that he can't play."
When asked if the BCB questioned Shakib about his statement, Yunus said that he had offered the board a clarification. "Shakib said that he was 'misinterpreted' in a recent interview. He said that he mentioned the 20-30% as he hadn't trained since returning from the West Indies in early August. Shakib also said that he required some training in Dubai to find out where his match fitness lies. He also [said] he never mentioned anything about his bowling and batting [being hit] due to finger injury."
In a press conference earlier on Thursday, Bangladesh's ODI captain Mashrafe Mortaza and coach Steve Rhodes said that even a half-fit Shakib would be good enough to play the Asia Cup.
"Since he played in the West Indies, I am sure he'd know his exact situation," Mashrafe said. "His performance was very useful for winning there. I think it is more than enough if his fitness is at that level. But we can't do anything about it. He took the decision and since he will play, I am sure he will give his 100%."
Rhodes had said Shakib's statement was more headline-grabbing than anything else. "I don't believe he is 20-30% fit. I think he is a lot fitter than that. That sort of statement has hit the headline. I am pretty sure Shakib is a lot fitter than that. He is in no real different state to the state in West Indies, where he played some fantastic cricket with bat, ball and in the field.
"Everybody knows that he does need the operation. He has made that decision after speaking to the BCB president. Asia Cup is very important to Bangladesh. Even if Shakib was 60-70% fit, you'd get a lot of cricket out of Shakib Al Hasan."
Shakib is currently on vacation in the United States, and the BCB indicated he would be travelling from there to the UAE for the Asia Cup, and that Mominul Haque will be sent as cover for him.
Rhodes said Shakib missing the training camp in Dhaka wouldn't affect his performance. "It doesn't make an impact on the rest of the team. Shakib is really, really respected by the rest of his colleagues in the dressing room. The time-off with family, I think it is important that everybody realises that Shakib plays a lot of cricket. He doesn't just bat. He bowls and fields and captains as well. He plays all formats.
"In making sure Shakib is playing at his best and freshest, we can give him opportunities to be with his family. It will make him a better player. He has done all the practice when he was younger. He did it out in the middle, bowling 50 overs every innings in Tests. It is not too necessary that he practices all the time. He showed in the Caribbean without much practice what a quality cricketer he can be."