Bangladesh cricket February 22, 2014

A punishment that should have come earlier

Shakib Al Hasan has had discipline issues in the past, and had he been pulled up earlier this latest incident may not have occurred

Less than 24 hours after his dressing-room misdemeanor, Shakib Al Hasan left the Shere Bangla National Stadium with a three-ODI ban and a heavy fine. The punishment may seem disproportionate to this particular crime, but it is a fair verdict for a man who has enjoyed lots of leeway as Bangladesh's No. 1 cricketer.

Shakib's inappropriate gesture during the second ODI against Sri Lanka was the big incident waiting to happen, after several smaller ones over nearly four years were overlooked by the Bangladesh Cricket Board.

Shakib's first public outburst was in October 2010 but the incident was buried under his match-winning performance on that day, and the bigger picture was missed. He was on 92 in the fourth ODI against New Zealand when there was movement near the sightscreen that the umpires could not stop. After a few minutes Shakib, Bangladesh captain at the time, ran towards the sightscreen, hurled abuse and threatened to hit the offender with his bat.

He was warned by the match referee but because he had led Bangladesh to their first major series victory over higher-ranked New Zealand, the BCB ignored the incident despite it happening in front of a large audience.

Shakib hit a low before and during the 2011 World Cup. In the lead up to the tournament there were several reports of him giving the BCB a hard time over small issues, while also having a bigger battle with them over permanent captaincy.

After Bangladesh's World Cup match against West Indies, several people in the Mirpur grandstand complained Shakib had reacted too strongly when he was booed. The offending picture was spread over the internet and published in several newspapers.

Within days of that incident, Shakib blasted former national cricketers in his Prothom Alo column, retaliating to their criticism of Bangladesh's implosion against West Indies. All the BCB did at the time was put a gag-order on the whole team for a few days, until Bangladesh beat England in Chittagong and everything was forgotten and forgiven.

A few months after the World Cup, in August 2011, Shakib was sacked as captain after Bangladesh lost a Test and an ODI series to Zimbabwe. The decision derailed the team, and the BCB was seen as being responsible, not Shakib. If this was Monopoly, Shakib seemed to hold all the get-out-of-jail-free cards.

In this latest incident, Shakib seemed to be getting angry because the camera had panned on him in the dressing room more than once. Shafiul Islam, the player sitting next to him, was laughing when Shakib suddenly gestured towards his crotch. The laughing continued, but by then the camera had refocused on the cricket. Shakib had played a poor shot to get out, and the immediate television attention was the trigger.

There has always been a tendency to portray Shakib as a dissenter against authority, particularly during his battle with the BCB regarding permanent captaincy. He wanted the board to stop naming a captain on a series-by-series basis, and he had his way.

While he was praised for his vision as Bangladesh captain and his record as an allrounder, there are not many in the BCB who have disciplined him when necessary. Nobody was willing to be held responsible for annoying the country's most valuable cricketer. It has been done this time, though, and quickly by BCB's standards

Shakib has been delivered a clear message, but he should have got it at least three years ago, through a different medium. On a crisp winter evening, Shakib walked into a room full of five-year-olds and they screamed his name in delight. He is a hero to people of all ages in Bangladesh, and that cheer should have been enough to make him understand his responsibilities.

Perhaps the healing process can start with him saying sorry to the kids.

Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent. He tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Fraz on February 27, 2014, 17:21 GMT

    They think and act like superstars even though they are pretty average. Even Afghanistan can beat them with ease .

  • M.G. on February 25, 2014, 19:29 GMT

    Well, we all do mistakes, and Shakib's a young fellow. I fail to understand what was going on in this Nazmul fellow's head, as well as, BCB to rational such sever punishment of their #1 player, don't know whether he'd personal grudge against him, or what; I know he is a politician first , may be zero cricket knowhow; but as you look at others, - harbajan gets away with virtually no punishments against aussies in aus, bad boy kholi gets away with constant misbehavoir games after games, bad boy Peterson being tolerated for years until cutting off lately, and I perhaps can go on. And bd, at the dawn of important asiacup, he comes up with sever verdict against his star player; this makes little sense. bd fans should held this fellow and the BCB responsible for their likely failure in this asiacup.

  • Dummy4 on February 25, 2014, 10:06 GMT

    Disciplining does no mean you have to ban someone !

  • Dummy4 on February 25, 2014, 10:05 GMT

    To all the people commenting to increase Shakibs ban. Just a mere query why would you want your best player out of the game. Yes what he did was certainly wrong but he was clearly frustrated. He has achieved more milestones than any Bangladeshi player. Even someone as great as Shane Warne, Murali or Kevin Pietersen looses their calm then it is natural for a player to do so. The ban given to him is justified but that does not give anyone any right to take away what he had done for Bangladesh. To be honest if he played a match winning innings and did the same action for which he got banned the same people who are degrading him would carry him around in their shoulders. Shakib is someone all cricket lovers should be proud of as he achieved so much coming from a team like Bangladesh where everyone under performs and someone like Shakib is being made the scape goat. Bangladesh Cricket were moving in the right direction but its the fans who expect way too much and the reality hurts !

  • irfan on February 24, 2014, 12:43 GMT

    This mirrors the pieterson situation with england, while results are going your way no one bats an eye lid, when the backs are up against the wall the boards will always look to a scapegoat, rightly or wrongly, on this occasion shakib has paid the price.

  • Abdul on February 24, 2014, 11:25 GMT

    Shakib's arrogance is unbelievable. He always plays too many shots and throws away his wicket at crucial stages.

    BCB must increase his ban further for such poor attitude.

  • Naimur on February 24, 2014, 10:56 GMT

    Most surprising is seeing Mushfiq and other players requesting reduction of ban.

    Shakib's ban is too lenient and if anything should be increased.

  • Rafe on February 23, 2014, 21:42 GMT

    I think Joe is right to some extent. Shakib is a good above average player and thats it. The main problem with Bangladesh cricket is that they are always happy with their team despite it being the worst Test playing nation for years now. i would say that in few years time even Ireland and Afghanistan would be beating this team quite regularly. Shakib was suspended quite rightly and him in the side only makes Bang team a little better only. You ppl should accept it that being in this team only makes his average performances outshine. Otherwise he would struggle to even make the playing XI in most of the teams. I am fully with you, Mr. Joe.

  • Nitin on February 23, 2014, 19:27 GMT

    Joe, have your ever held a cricket bad or bowled in nets itself. There is nothing wrong with Shakib's skills, its just that you can't digest a Bangladeshi hog the spotlight. Learn to appreciate your opponents' skills rather than critising for the heck of it!!!

  • Mohammad Wahid on February 23, 2014, 19:04 GMT

    @ Joe Thompson:an average player ( at best!) topping the chart of all-rounder rankings (in all format) for years together! Shame on ICC (or should it be you)? Nobody is claiming that he is world's best batsman or bowler, he is SIMPLY the best all-rounder for quite a long period of time. All the idea about all-rounders are he don't need to be the best in either category; being just above average (which he definitely is, notwithstanding your biased opinion) in both is good enough. Yes, their were the days of (mainly) great bowlers, who happened to be above average batsmen as well and made into awesome all-rounders (Botham, Imran, Kapil, Hadlee). But in the last 20 years other than Kallis there was nor a single cricketer who could claim as a top class batsman or bowler and above average in the other. Regarding comparing with Ireland and Afghanistan, this actually has become cliche and when you have to use 'if','had' to prove your point; there are some sort of 'wishful thinking' involved !

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