Shakib Al Hasan waits until the bottom 35 of Bangladesh’s innings during Saturday’s first ODI against Ireland, to alter the course of the game. Offspinner Harry Tector comes from around the wicket, Shakib comes down to sweep the first ball, from just outside the stump, for a cap. Then he lifts it up onto the deck, then sweeps again and cuts a point past, for three more fours. Shakib ends the over by bowling Tector over long-off, for the fifth four. Bangladesh innings decisively turn around a total of over 300. Shakib hurtles towards a century.
It falls short of that, but leaves a big enough impact for the team’s score to rise to 338 for 8, their highest ever ODI total. Shakib then breaks Ireland’s starting 60-run stand before the other Bangladeshi bowlers take advantage of the breakthrough and the hosts also take their biggest win in the format.
During the ticketing break, BCB Chairman of Cricket Operations Jalal Yunus answers questions about Shakib’s whereabouts between the England and Ireland series. This is where Shakib divides opinions.
Specifically, the appearance of Shakib in Dubai to open a store stands out. Bangladeshi security authorities have said Shakib ignored his warning that the police were investigating the owner in a murder case. Yunus said they will look into the matter if this “commercial activity” contradicts the BCB’s contract with him, but they knew Shakib would join training on March 17 in Sylhet.
A week earlier, Shakib went to open another store, in Chattogram, after the third T20I against England. He had just led Bangladesh to a historic 3-0 shutout against the world champions. Shakib was at the top of his game throughout the series. Hours after Game 3 on March 9, he had to push through a large crowd to get to his car after opening the store. In the melee, someone tried to take off his cap. The footage shows that Shakib not only grabbed the cap, but tried to hit the person multiple times.
In January, Shakib made strong comments about the BPL that no player, coach or team owner has dared to make against the tournament. He went on to attack the refs twice in the first week, only getting penalized for the second offence. Shakib finished the BPL with 375 runs and 10 wickets.
“He stays in his bubble [on the field]. He has a generally very positive mindset. He doesn’t look back. It is purely a mental ability. He cannot be taught or trained.”
Nazmul Abedeen Fahim, Shakib’s coach since his college days
There are more instances of Shakib bouncing smoothly between great performances, great controversies, and scandals. He compartmentalizes the two main aspects of his life: on and off the field. The two live dangerously close to each other, but he has left many baffled as to how he manages to keep them apart.
Nazmul Abedeen Fahim, who has worked closely with Shakib since his school days and most recently coached him with Fortune Barishal in the BPL, said the way Shakib separates the aspects of life on and off the pitch is entirely the the cricketer is doing. He cannot be trained in this aspect.
“It’s quite an amazing look,” Fahim said. “He probably gets into a bubble that avoids external factors. He’s got this in him. He can change at the last moment. But once he’s on the field, he’s at his best out of nowhere. We’ve seen that many times.” times. He stays in his bubble. He has a generally very positive mindset. He doesn’t look back. It is purely a mental ability. He cannot be taught or trained.”
Last year, business interests and Shakib’s decision to (not) tour certain countries caused a lot of friction between him and the BCB. Both times, he had to give in. Shakib also withdrew from sponsorship of a betting company (masked as a sports website) after he was stopped by the BCB. This happened before the 2022 Asia Cup season and the T20 World Cup, when he was about to be appointed as the new captain. Bangladesh had their best T20 World Cup to date, with Shakib leading the team in a new direction in the format.
Two years ago, Shakib kicked and threw his stumps in an extraordinary outburst during a Dhaka Premier League (domestic one-day competition) match. It also didn’t take long for him to recover from this incident.
One of the reasons why Shakib recovers quickly from these incidents is the leniency with which the BCB has treated him over the years. It wasn’t until last year that the board really got him to tour when he refused to, or barred him from signing a trade association that went against board policy. Even so, for the stump-throwing incident, he was only penalized for three games. On many occasions over the years, the BCB has reduced Shakib’s punishment or completely ignored his controversies.
It is just as likely that her date with the Dubai shop owner will first be swept under the rug and then forgotten by the public and media. If that happens, it will serve as yet another example of Shakib getting away with hardly a slap on the wrist. Or is it another example of Shakib expertly compartmentalizing his life on and off the field?
He never allows one to interfere with the other. As a great all-rounder, Shakib often covers up a hitting miss with a bowling masterclass. When it comes to his off-field incidents, he seamlessly covers it up with an on-field performance that draws everyone’s attention.