West Indies in Bangladesh 2012-13 November 12, 2012

Shakib's bowling workload a worry

Shakib Al Hasan is being over-bowled every season, and is going into another with a heavy load staring him down as he leads a group of inconsistent fast bowlers and a very inexperienced spin attack

Shakib Al Hasan is only four away from 100 Test wickets. The all-rounder will become the second Bangladeshi bowler to reach the milestone after Mohammad Rafique, the former left-arm spinner from whom he took over the mantle of the team's leading bowler four years ago. But the responsibility also means Shakib is being over-bowled every passing season, and is going into another with a heavy load staring him down as he leads a group of inconsistent and yet to be proven fast bowlers and a very inexperienced spin attack.

Shakib's workload is a matter of concern for the team management, especially because his predominant skill is batting. He has been successful managing both but before the World Twenty20 in September, he complained of knee problems and even skipped the Sri Lanka Premier League due to a niggle. He has a surgery planned for later this year, but given his commitments and the domestic season, it could be rescheduled to next year.

Ever since Rafique's retirement in 2008, Shakib has been given the task of not just bowling economical spells but making breakthroughs, separating partnerships and even cutting out the runs by bowling over the wicket, into the rough. He has racked up impressive figures too, picking up nine five-fors in his short career.

Interim coach Shane Jurgensen, who was the team's bowling coach until Richard Pybus' resignation last month, has been told by Shakib that he enjoys bowling in Tests but Jurgensen wants the all-rounder to put more of his efforts in his preferred suit.

"He is very happy he'll be bowling in a Test rather than just four overs," Jurgensen told ESPNcricinfo. "His prime objective in Twenty20s has been to contain the batsman so he's really excited to be bowling in the longer format.

"At the same time, we have to consider his workload. He bats for us at No. 5 and given his talent, we want him to score double-hundreds, for instance. He has the potential to score big runs so we have to keep an eye on how much he bowls."

How much has he bowled since Rafique's retirement? Shakib has delivered a mind-boggling 513.1 more overs than any Bangladesh bowler in all international formats. He brings in the wickets too, 93 in Tests since Rafique left, far ahead of Bangladesh's next best effort, 26, from Shahadat Hossain.

This season Shakib will be hoping the likes of Elias Sunny and Sohag Gazi reduce some of his load, but just like last season when Shakib did the bulk of the work and let Sunny get acquainted with the pressures of Test cricket, it could still be the same situation. The quicks too are unlikely to be asked to bowl a lot unless they find the Mirpur and Khulna wickets friendly enough.

Jurgensen, however, was happy to see some of the pace bowlers hit the straps in the first-class competition though Rubel Hossain is still going to need more time before he could be asked for long spells. "I am happy with how much they've bowled so far. Shahadat [Hossain] and [Abul Hasan] Raju have been bowling regularly after Eid while Rubel [Hossain] has not, but he's fit to be bowling.

"I am also pleased with the combination we've got, but I am sad for Nazmul [Hossain] missing out. We wanted to make sure we have pace in our attack."

Shakib, though, remains Mushfiqur Rahim's go-to bowler, not because of their friendship since school days or for the mere fact that they have combined the best off Shakib's bowling. But mainly because it is only Shakib who can offer economy, wickets and safety in a Test match.

Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's correspondent in Bangladesh

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on November 13, 2012, 6:24 GMT

    Dear The-Ashes, dont worry dude. Shakib will never be close to Kallis. If he plays for another 12 years, it will be hardly 30 more test. Your Kallis will remain unharmed. You can sleep in peace.

  • Dummy4 on November 13, 2012, 5:54 GMT

    shakib al hassan is no doubt the best ever bowler and batsman bangladesh have produced he has to continue performing in the same fashion but the other guys like tamim mushfique or bowlers like other spinner and mushrafe should also stand and put some thing regularly then bangla desh can b a decent team may chip in winning in tests one day and t20s every now and then .................... can beat some of the weaker nations in their home soil ............

  • Deepak on November 13, 2012, 4:13 GMT

    another thrashing with 3-0 on crds for BD. WIset to make their best scores and wicket hauls.

  • Dummy4 on November 12, 2012, 23:44 GMT

    Shakib doesn't need to prove anyone his quality because he already did at the World T20 scoring 84 at a strike rate of more than 150 against one of the best bowling attacks in World Cricket. Its Bangladesh that needs to perform. I agree with Ashes that no one including Shakib is anywhere near Kallis not even an inch. Bangladesh fans are not silly they're just passionate and there's nothing wrong with that.

  • Dummy4 on November 12, 2012, 22:17 GMT

    One day Sakib will be Muralitharan. He will reach the milestone of washim or mcgrath

  • shahina on November 12, 2012, 22:00 GMT

    i am an indian fan and i think india dont have any player in shakib's caliber. wish we had one shakib, we could have been a good team. bangladesh dont take kohli, tendu and dhoni but exchange any player from our team with great shakib.

  • Azad on November 12, 2012, 21:31 GMT

    Bangladesh needs a better coach ; you don't need Shakib to score double hundreds . You just need a couple of other guys to score 40's consistently. He is an all rounder so he needs to do both ...try and coach the other players on the team ...

  • Dummy4 on November 12, 2012, 15:30 GMT

    I don't quite agree with Isam on his delusion that Shakib is the only spinning cavalry. There are other spinners that replenishes the cavalry as well! Hope our seamers would start being consistent and incisive in their bowling as well.

  • saleh on November 12, 2012, 15:20 GMT

    @ Ashes.Shakib is the best allrounder in the world now.This new generation of cricket Shakib and Shane Watson is the best.Shakib can bat and bowl very well.But he isn't not a such big hitter.Shane watson is a very big hard hitter batsman.So,that's why,he is famous.But he isn't too good than shakib at bowling.Everyone admires watson because of his hard hitting.Ashes said that Shakib hasn't played a test against Australia.It's not the fault of shakib.What is the shame in it?You know that Bangladesh plays 5-6 test matches in a year.And Kallis is a true champion allrounder.Why is the difference between Shakib and Kallis?Kallis is a great player.He is a lot of experinence than shakib and watson.But he is not a new generation player.Shakib is just 26 and kallis is 36.Shakib has played just 126 ODIS and Kallis has played 350 up.But this new generation Watson and Shakib is the best,not kallis.@Ashes,u just want to insult shakib,sorry to say that.Shakib is in the great form for 2-3 years.

  • Dummy4 on November 12, 2012, 14:01 GMT

    Inshallah he will do it again as we all are praying for him.

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