Bangladesh coach Steve Rhodes believed Sakib al Hasan’s recent habit of avoiding training camps at home would not hurt his performance in the forthcoming Asia Cup and affect the mindset of other players.
Sakib preferred to stay with his family in United States when rest of the players sweated it out in Mirpur as they prepared for the tournament.
The all-rounder travelled to US after he performed hajj in Makkah and Madina and was expected to join the squad in UAE for the tournament.
This is not first time in recent months Sakib took a break from training as he also did not travel with the team in West Indies and joined his team-mates from US.
Earlier in June, he rested at home in Dhaka when team travelled to India for the three-match Twenty20 series against Afganistan.
‘The short answer is, I feel no,’ Rhodes said at the team’s press conference in Mirpur on Thursday when asked if he felt Sakib’s absence would affect the team.
‘It doesn’t make an impact on the rest of the team. My philosophy is very much about team, and trying to make sure all the guys play for each other,’ he said.
‘Sakib is really, really respected by the rest of his colleagues in the dressing room. It is one side of it. They respect and understand Sakib. The time-off with family, I think it is important that everybody does realise that Sakib plays a lot of cricket.
‘He doesn’t just bat. He bowls and fields and captains as well. He plays all formats.
‘In making sure Sakib is playing at his best and freshest, we can give him opportunities to be with his family. It will make him a better player. He has done all the practice when he was younger. He did it out in the middle, bowling 50 overs every innings in Tests.
‘He knows the right line and length. It is not too necessary that he practices all the time.
‘He showed in the Caribbean without much practice what a quality cricketer he can be. He is a sensible guy who knows where he needs to be. I am very confident that it doesn’t affect the team.’
Bangladesh got bowled out for their lowest ever total of 43 runs in their first innings of the first Test in West Indies in which Sakib scored a duck.
West Indies thrashed Bangladesh in both the Test matches before the visitors bounced back in one-day international and Twenty20 international series, which they both won by 2-1.
Sakib starred both in ODIs and Twenty20s to complete a turnaround but did not play any cricket or train since the back-to-back series win.
He was unsure of playing the Asia Cup as the pain in his left little finger, which he injured during the tri-series final against Sri Lanka, returned in West Indies T20s.
He preferred to skip the tournament and instead undergo a surgery for a complete recovery from the injury.
But the Bangladesh Cricket Board high-ups insisted on him playing the tournament putting the surgery on hold until October, when they would host Zimbabwe at home.
Sakib in a recent interview said he is only 20-30 per cent fit and can withdraw himself from the tournament anytime.
Rhodes played down the suggestion and said that even a half-fit Sakib was very crucial to the team’s prospect in UAE.
‘I don’t believe he is 20-30 per cent fit,’ said Rhodes.
‘I think he is a lot fitter than that. That sort of statement has hit the headline. I am pretty sure Sakib is a lot fitter than that. He is in no real different state to the state in West Indies where he played some fantastic cricket with bat, ball and in the field.
‘Everybody knows that he does need the operation. He has made that decision after speaking to the president. Asia Cup is very important to Bangladesh.
‘He is not fully fit. But if he plays anything like he played in the Caribbean, then that will be a massive asset to Bangladesh cricket. This guy is a tremendous cricketer. Even if Sakib was 60-70 per cent fit, you’d get a lot of cricket out of Sakib al Hasan.’
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