‘It would be akin to cheating the team’

All-rounder Shakib Al Hasan continued to keep the Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) in limbo regarding his availability for international commitments, saying in his latest salvo last night that he was neither mentally nor physically prepared for the upcoming tour of South Africa.
“I felt like a passenger in a car [in the just-concluded series against Afghanistan], which I never want to be. I did not enjoy my performances, either in ODIs or T20Is. I tried but it didn’t work out. I don’t think it would be right for me to play in South Africa in this state of mind. I said this to Jalal [Yunus] bhai and I think he will
think about it. I will also think about it and then a decision should be taken,” Shakib told reporters at the Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport prior to his departure for Dubai.
“I believe that if I play with such a mental and physical condition, it will ultimately hamper the team’s performance. It would be sad if I failed to meet my expectations or the expectations of my fans. It would be like cheating my teammates if I stay as only a passenger,” Shakib continued.
Shakib was supposed to join the team, slated to depart for South Africa on March 11, directly from Dubai, but he repeatedly told reporters he desperately need a break.
“Yes, I was agreed to play the series and that’s why my name was included in the squad but after the Afghanistan series I felt that I needed a break. In my current state of mind, it would be like cheating my team and my country if I play the series.”
He admitted that there would have been no guarantees that he would perform well had he gone with sound mind and body. But in this current situation, he said it would be like betraying his team. “I don’t want to deprive my team,” he said.
Shakib repeatedly said that playing would be akin to cheating his teammates, the country and himself. He also demanded a long-term plan from the BCB regarding his international commitments instead of deciding on a series-by-series basis given that he is a player approaching the fag end of a long career. He added that
there might be the possibility of him playing only the Tests and skipping the ODIs or some other arrangement of that nature, but could not confirm before discussions.
“What I read in media is that I asked for a six-month break from Tests before the IPL auction, which is not true. I wanted to focus more on white-ball cricket with the next World Cup in mind. We have two World Cups. I think we can achieve big things there. That’s why I wanted to focus more on white-ball cricket. That doesn’t
mean I will not play Test cricket. But I need a proper plan at this stage of my career,” he said.
When contacted, BCB cricket operations committee chairman Jalal Yunus said: “He rang me up today and spoke about mental fatigue. He was not motivated to play so his performances were not up to the mark in the last series. But he did not say he would not play in the South Africa series. He said that he need a break and
he misses his family. I just told him to talk with me again after two days. That’s it.”
The first ODI will be played in Centurion on March 18. The second and third ODIs are scheduled for March 20 and 23 in Johannesburg and Centurion respectively. The opening Test will be played on March 31 while the final Test is scheduled for April 8.
The ODI and the Test series will be part of the ICC ODI Super League and World Test Championship respectively.

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