Shakib’s second shot at captaincy, last shot at immortality



Immortality in team sports is a fantasy not attained by many. If there was one Bangladeshi to attain it however, it would be none other than the timeless enigma that is Shakib Al Hasan. And what better way to accomplish it than by lifting the most coveted price in the game of cricket, in the largest stadium in the world, on 19 November, 2023?

Well, sorry for taking you on a fantasy ride but as events turned out earlier on Friday, if Bangladesh were to win the ICC Cricket World Cup 2023, it would be only one man lifting the trophy because Shakib Al Hasan has been named the full time captain of Bangladesh’s ODI team – 12 years after his first stint at the helm.

Let me first tell you what I felt when the news first broke. It was a feeling of reassurance, a feeling of security and a feeling of hope and faith.

With the recent shenanigans going around Bangladesh cricket, the fans were left in a state of unrest and turmoil. Not knowing who your captain is two months before the biggest tournament in cricket is never a good feeling. What this means now is Bangladesh will be heading to India in the safest hands possible. In Shakib, the players trust and so do the majority of 180 million Bangladeshis. 

 

Impact of ‘captain’ Shakib: Not a statistical analysis

What you will read from here on will provide zero mathematical and statistical evidence. The impact of the personality and ability of a legendary sportsman transcends all that data. So bear with me.

Firstly, let’s talk about what facing the captain Shakib Al Hasan as an opposition might mean to other teams and other captains.

Imagine this: You are walking out to the center wicket for a toss in a crucial World Cup game. You see the Bangladeshi captain walking up to you. Take my word for it when I tell you that as an opposition captain, you’d rather have a Litton Das or a Mushfiqur Rahim walk up to you. 

This is by no means a slander to the mentioned players. What it means is the fear factor and aura that Shakib is associated with, feeds into the minds of opposition players and captains.

When the best player, the most experienced player, the most tactically sound player calls the shots, it poses a lot more threat to the opposition. There’s a saying in football that a lot of times, games are won in the tunnel first and on the pitch, second. That’s because when you look at stalwart athletes lining up against you, you succumb to the pressure. Also one other thing and Manchester United fans can heavily relate to it. You would rather have Roy Keane as your leader than Harry Maguire, wouldn’t you? Well, Shakib is our Roy Keane.

When you’re the captain of Bangladesh, you’re not just leading the other ten players on the pitch. You’re actually walking out with the expectations of millions on your shoulders. With that comes pressure, responsibilities and you need a certain personality to deal with these and with the Bangladeshi media.

No one in Bangladesh handles the media as uniquely as Shakib. Bangladesh will certainly not be winning every game at the world cup and the backlash a captain faces in such situations is immense. 

In the past, the likes of Mahmudullah Riyad, Mushfiq and Litton have broken down at the brunt of the ruthless line of questioning from fans and the media; but never Shakib. He outwits every reporter he faces and that calmness feeds into his teammates and also to the people back home. 

Shakib shields his team from every dart thrown at them. Shakib provides his team with protection and self belief where others would have succumbed to the criticism.

Before concluding, let’s talk what this could mean for Shakib – the player. 

Let’s face it, we all know that the all rounder is in the swansong of his career. As a Shakib and Bangladesh cricket fan, I am delighted to know that he will get one last chance to win the biggest prize in the game; and he will be doing it on his own terms. 

No matter what your opinions on Shakib is, his greatest dream is to see Bangladesh on top of world cricket. There have been countless interviews where he has cheekily commented and implied that he wants to win this very 2023 world cup with Bangladesh. 

The way he performed in the 2019 World Cup should be a good indicator as to how he does in the biggest stages and how he doesn’t let the pressure faze him

This is Shakib’s time. It’s now or never for the greatest player the country has ever produced. Immortality beckons. 

 





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