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July 5, 2010
Bangladesh will assess their captaincy situation following the one-day series against England after Shakib Al Hasan asked for a break from leadership duties as he struggled to combine all his roles. Mashrafe Mortaza is captain for the limited-overs matches, but coach Jamie Siddons hinted that Shakib was his preferred choice to guide the team into next year's World Cup.
Mortaza has only recently returned from a long-term knee injury which limited his participation during England's tour of Bangladesh earlier this year to one disappointing ODI appearance. However, he has resumed the captaincy position that was his when he broke down in West Indies last July during the side's famous victory at Kingstown.
Shakib's form has tailed off in recent months since he became the game's leading allrounder. He averaged 13 with the bat in the Test series against England earlier in the season, although did manage eight wickets - including a five-wicket return at Old Trafford - with his left-arm spin, and followed that by scoring just 52 runs in three innings at the Asia Cup in Sri Lanka.
"Shakib was the main person behind the decision, he decided it was a bit much for him," Siddons told Cricinfo. "His form was down with the bat and he needed a rest. Mashrafe was always going to come into the one-day side so it was a perfect chance for him to take the reins.
"We'll see how it goes after this tour, I think Shakib is ideally suited to the captaincy particularly leading into the World Cup but if Mash performs with the ball - and that's his big challenge - he may be a good choice as well. If Shakib gets into form we may stick with it."
One good piece of news for Shakib as he strives to regain form is the absence of Graeme Swann, who has been rested for the series. Swann has dismissed Shakib five times in seven innings and it hadn't escaped Siddons' notice that the offspinner wouldn't be around. "He's been a thorn in our side so I'm happy to see him out and I'm sure Shakib is happy to see him gone," he said.
It is a gamble to put Mortaza back in the captaincy hot seat because he is still feeling his way back into the side and, although he remains the country's leading pace bowler, he certainly isn't the threat of a few years ago. Siddons, while backing Mortaza for the three ODIs which start on Thursday, added that it was vital he justified his position in the team.
"The body I think will get through it's just the form and the performance," he said. "I think he's dropped a yard of pace so we'll have to see how he goes against the big boys. England certainly won't hold back on him so we'll see how he stands up. If he swings the ball he'll be fine."
England will be expected to collect another whitewash in the one-day series, but Siddons warned that his team can pull off a surprise. They should have won the second match in Dhaka earlier in the year but couldn't stop Eoin Morgan, and the visitors will look to Tamim Iqbal to continue his form from the Tests where he scored two thrilling hundreds.
"If Tamim goes off in any of these three one-day games England are in a whole heap of trouble," Siddons said. "We can put on a big score if the other guys bat around him. Anything is possible. Each time I speak to him he is learning more about the game. He will get out silly sometimes, but he is the bloke who sets up big scores which win matches. I won't be pulling him back."
One man who has returned to the squad, although is unlikely to feature at the start of the series after Siddons said the batting line-up which piled up 301 for 7 against Middlesex was his No. 1 choice, is 22-year-old Raqibul Hasan who stormed out of the squad on the eve of the first Test in Chittagong.
"There was a bit of a battle to get him back in, but he's one of our really good up-and-coming young players," Siddons said. "He needs to stay in this group to develop, a bit like Jahurul [Islam] who has just come in and is developing. It's great to have Raqibul back and to see Jahurul making runs - they are the future of Bangladesh.
"We have to keep them. Both of them are potentially world-class players and down the track should be there for years to come when Bangladesh come good."
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