Things haven't gone right for Bangladesh in the last couple of months. A horrible tour of South Africa, where they were whitewashed across all formats, turned everyone's attention to their weaknesses that were overshadowed by their limited overs success and a good home run in the longer formats preceding the tour.
Most importantly, their failure in the gruelling South African conditions highlighted the tactical weakness of Mushfiqur Rahim as a captain in the longer format of the game. From the field set-up to the bowling changes, everything seemed like the desperate attempts of a clueless man to make something happen out of nothing. Although, he stood tall with his batting performances it was his leadership skills that received heavy criticism from all quarters.
Even their coach Chandika Hathurusingha, the man behind their success during his three-year stint with the team, stepped down in the aftermath of the tour. Moreover, Rahim's failure as a captain called for a change in that role as well. And the Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) responded to that situation by appointing Shakib Al Hasan, arguably the greatest Bangladeshi player ever to have graced the history of cricket, as the leader of the pack in the longer formats.
It might seem that the BCB is in a confused state at the moment looking back at the fact that they had removed Hasan from captaincy following a string of poor performances and disciplinary issues back in 2011. However, there is a lot of difference between the player he was back then and the player he is now. Along with gaining a valuable experience of six more years of international cricket since then, Hasan has also grown up and matured as a human being.
Six years ago, which was around five years into his international career, Hasan was still a bit raw and exhibited youthful arrogance just like the other up-and-coming players. He had been held several times on disciplinary grounds as well. And just like other youngsters, he was not afraid of anyone or any consequences.
Hurling abuse at the spectators and threatening to hit them in 2010 and 2011, indecent gesture on a live broadcast in 2014 and misbehaviour with coach Hathurusingha in the same year were some of the disciplinary issues he has been held responsible for in the course of his international career so far.
He had also stepped down as a captain once in 2010 following dissatisfaction over his own performances as a player. Jamie Siddons, the coach at that time, had identified Hasan as the ideal man to lead Bangladesh and had predicted that he will come back as a captain once he manages to sort his performances. And he was again thrust into captaincy later in the year despite having second thoughts about the role.
However, an event where he openly confessed his uneasy relations with the selection panel during the ODI series in Zimbabwe in 2010, led the board, the selection panel and its members to develop a disliking for Hasan. His brattish arrogance and nagging over small issues gave the BCB a hard time. And for the first time, they realized it was time to deal with him in a hard manner.
"I was not prepared to take the job [captaincy]. And I am not also satisfied with my role as a captain. The reasons are numerous, and I cannot detail all of them right at the moment. The captain should have a clearly defined role, but anyway I don't want to talk about the team. What I can say is that I gave my 100% as a captain in the field," Hasan had said after Bangladesh lost the first ODI during the tour of Zimbabwe in 2010.
A poor World Cup campaign, an ODI-series defeat against Australia at home and a Test series defeat in Zimbabwe followed in succession in 2011 and Hasan was relieved of his duties as a captain by the BCB.
"Shakib Al Hasan and Tamim Iqbal have been relieved of captaincy and vice-captaincy as their leadership was not satisfactory. They failed to lead the side during the tour. There are reports of indiscipline against Hasan. In certain areas, Tamim breached discipline. He argued with the head coach. We thought they could improve their behaviour, but now we have no choice other than [to take] a hard line. We took this decision after receiving reports from the different people on tour," the then BCB media director Jalal Yunus had told AFP.
Despite his removal from captaincy, he went on to smash records as an all-rounder. He continued to be a vital cog for the team with his all-round performances. Being the No 1 all-rounder in the world further increased his reputation as a player. Despite his stature and all the individual success, he hadn't quite learnt from his previous disciplinary incidents. And finally, he was handed a six-month ban by the BCB strictly on disciplinary grounds regarding a spat with coach Hathurusingha in 2014.
In return, the ban turned out to be a perfect lesson for him. He became aware of the responsibilities that come with his reputation and stature as a professional cricketer. He regretted what he had done and desperately wanted to come back and make it right. The board officials realised that as they lifted Hasan's ban when during the fourth month.
Since then, the iconic Bangladeshi all-rounder has been a different person altogether — a much mellowed down character who is fully aware of his actions and knows what to do and when to do. He is a lot calmer as a person both on and off the field. Now, the BCB has realised that it is the ideal time to hand him back the responsibility of leading the side in the longer formats once again.
"We have decided to change the Test captain. Shakib Al Hasan will be our new Test skipper from the upcoming series and Mahumudullah will be the vice-captain of the side. There will be no changes in the other formats," BCB chief Nazmul Hasan said.
Hasan's record as a captain in Tests with just one victory and eight losses in a total of 9 Tests, between 2009 and 2011, doesn't read well at all. However, he led the team at a time when they were not yet the Bangladeshi side they are at present. Leading a totally inexperienced side at that young age was a huge challenge in itself. So, better results can be expected from him this time around considering the resources he has to his delight.
In fact, Hasan’s all-round statistics as a captain in Tests are impressive to say the least. His batting and bowling averages of 38.23 and 33.43 respectively as a captain are not very different from the same averages of 40.88 and 32.09 respectively without captaincy duties. So, it seems captaincy duties hardly have any adverse effects on his all-round performance.
He always possessed the qualities of a leader but his attitude problem didn't allow him to realise his leadership abilities. With the change that has come into his behaviour and character during the past couple of years, it couldn't have been a better time to thrust him into leadership once again. Moreover, the experience playing 292 international matches overall have enriched him as a player as well. He is the leader that Bangladesh need and more importantly, deserve.
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