Bangladesh cricket currently stands at a cross-road with the players standing up for themselves against the cricket board and leading them in this movement is Sakib al Hasan, who has finally come out of the shadows of Mashrafee bin Murtaza to emerge as the sole leader of Bangladesh cricket.
Sakib has undoubtedly been Bangladesh’s best performer in the last decade and a global ambassador of the country, but he still couldn’t quite supersede Mashrafee as the face of the team.
Mashrafee has been the undisputed leader of the country’s cricket since 2015 when he led Bangladesh to their maiden World Cup quarter-final berth, and his influence only kept increasing in the following years.
Sakib has been leading Bangladesh in Tests and Twenty20s since 2017, but he still couldn’t surpass Mashrafee’s influence in the team and Mashrafee was always as the man in charge.
But the tide began to change in 2019, when Mashrafee, after officially joining politics and becoming a member of parliament, led Bangladesh in the World Cup in England and completely flopped as a player, taking just one wicket in the entire tournament.
Sakib, on the other hand, stamped his authority as a world-class all-rounder throughout the tournament, making 606 runs and taking 11 wickets, the best performance by a Bangladeshi player in the showcase event by a country mile.
After the World Cup Mashrafee has assumed his politician role more seriously and hasn’t taken part in any international match since, which seemingly distanced him from the country’s cricket.
Sakib, however, started voicing the issues with the country’s cricketing system and started pointing out the flaws plaguing the game and on Monday he went one step further by leading an unprecedented strike to fulfil the players’ demands.
Every national stalwart was present in Mirpur when the players announced their boycott, but there was one very notable absence in the mix, the current one-day international skipper Mashrafee.
His absence drew many questions about his position in the movement and he clarified all the assumption that night, by announcing on his official Facebook page that he was in fact unaware of the movement and disheartened that his fellow team-mates didn’t inform him beforehand.
Leaving Mashrafee out of such an important decision proved that the Bangladesh national team and first-class players don’t consider him as their leader anymore and Sakib has assumed the mantle of leadership both on and off the field.
Sakib, who is often accused of being a ‘selfish player’ by his critics, stood up for the domestic first-class cricketers, with most of the demand being placed for the benefit of the domestic first-class players.
Sakib was rarely a part of the domestic four-day competition, having last played an NCL match in 2015.
The ace all-rounder, however, will benefit if the two-franchise leagues per player is revoked and with the proposed pay hike of national players, but his decision to be at the front and centre of the movement will make him an eyesore for many board officials.
Sakib’s bold decision to lead the players in the movement clearly implicates that the baton of leadership is now firmly in his hands and when the dust settles on the whole row, Sakib will become the most influential figure in Bangladesh cricket.
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