Oh Shakib. What have you done? Or rather what haven’t you done? I never thought a player as respected as Shakib Al Hasan, a player who’s one of my personal favourites, would breach the ICC’s anti-corruption code. It’s a really sad day. And it brings back all those concerns about unscrupulous and criminal behaviour in cricket. Just how deep does the rabbit hole go?
For those who haven’t yet heard, Shakib has just been banned for two years (one of which is suspended) for failing to report approaches by a bookie. It’s not exactly the Hansie Cronje affair all over again, as there’s no evidence that Shakib actually took money from bookies or did anything wrong other than failing to report these approaches, but it’s still serious stuff.
This really has come out of the blue. Shakib is such a popular figure in world cricket and he always seemed like a smart cookie. I simply can’t believe that he didn’t report these approaches – after all, it happened three times – and one has to wonder why. Was he just naive? Did he feel threatened? It’s just so disappointing.
The biggest fear, of course, is one wonders whether these kinds of approaches are so common now that it’s water off a duck’s back for a player of Shakib Al Hasan’s stature? If you’ve been approached multiple times, and you know other players are receiving similar approaches, perhaps you think it’s no big deal. The really puzzling thing is that Shakib had reported approaches like this in the past. Why was this one any different?
One has to feel for Bangladeshi cricket in general after this. Shakib is their best player by far, and as an all-rounder he makes a key contribution with both bat and ball. It’s hard to think of another international player who is so integral to his team’s chances of success. What’s more, the ban has come just before a tour of India – perhaps the hardest tour of them all.
I imagine that a lot of Bangladesh supporters are feeling sicker than Norwegian Blue parrots today. Shakib Al Hasan is their hero. And he’s let them all down in a big way. It will be interesting to see what kind of reception he receives when he makes his comeback in November next year – which will be in the middle of the T20 World Cup.
Talking of the T20 World Cup, England played their second warm-up match in New Zealand overnight. It didn’t go well. England scored a competitive looking 188-5 off their 20 overs but their New Zealand XI opponents knocked off the runs with consummate ease for the loss of just two wickets (and with nine balls to spare). Not good.
The star for the hosts was Colin Monroe, who creamed an unbeaten 107 in just 57 balls. That’s pretty bloody impressive. Journeyman Anaru Kitchen – don’t worry, I’ve never heard of him either – also made a rather useful 48 off 29 balls.
There are two ways of looking at this result. On the one hand there’s no shame in losing to a Monroe special. He’s a very talented and explosive international cricketer with an excellent T20 record. He’s done this kind of thing before and he’ll no doubt do it again.
On the other hand the performance of England’s new boys was a bit worrying again. Mahmood and Brown struggled for the second game in succession, and leggie Matt Parkinson also had a day to forget. Lewis Gregory had a bit of a mare with the ball too and conceded 27 off just two overs.
The only bowler who could hold his head high was Tom Curran. And perhaps we shouldn’t be too surprised about this. Curran is an excellent death bowler and has a bit more experience and attitude than the other guys.
Let’s hope that England’s bowlers can improve as the tour goes on. We shouldn’t be too concerned, as most of these guys are still very wet behind the ears and we shouldn’t make premature judgements on the back of just two games, but it won’t be long before critics start to question whether England’s supposed strength in depth in white ball cricket is an illusion.
At least the batsman had a decent day though. Although Dawid Malan and Tom Banton struggled early on, it was good to see Joe Denly make 39 off 25 balls (his highest T20 score for England), whilst James Vince top scored with 46 off 32. Lewis Gregory also hit two 4s and two 6s at the death in partnership with Sam Billings.
There’s no doubt, however, that the big news of the day was Shakib Al Hasan. The issue of corruption in cricket just won’t go away. And it’s hard to know what the ICC can do to eliminate the problem.
Subscribe to receive new article notifications via email