Shakib wants six-month Test break

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Bangladesh all-rounder Shakib Al Hasan has asked for a six-month break from Test cricket, saying that he needs a rest in order to stay fresh in the long run.

Bangladesh Cricket Board media committee chairman Jalal Yunus informed The Daily Star of this development last night. “We have received a letter from Shakib to the effect that he wants a six-month break from Test cricket with a view to staying fresh for the long term. The board is yet to decide whether to grant the request.”

This development comes with the BCB set to name a 15-man Test squad to tour South Africa today, with the squad scheduled to depart for Johannesburg on September 16. It was learnt that Shakib is unlikely to be a part of the Test squad for the two-Test series.

Shakib – the world’s top-ranked all-rounder in all formats – was recently made the T20I captain. He also turned in a stellar performance in the first Test against Australia in late August, taking a 10-wicket haul and hitting 84 in the first innings of his 50th Test.

In a career spanning more than a decade, Shakib has played just 51 Test matches while his contemporaries in countries like England and Australia have neared or crossed 100. This points to a wider lack of Tests for Bangladesh as a whole and in that context Shakib’s request is a puzzling one. He has after all often spoken of the need for more Tests.

There have been murmurs of discontent within the dressing room, especially among seniors, at some of the decisions of head coach Chandika Hathurusingha. The Sri Lankan coach is part of the selection process and some of the selections – the axing of senior player Mahmudullah Riyad, the drama surrounding Test specialist Mominul Haque’s eleventh-hour inclusion in the squad for the first Test – in the recently concluded Australia series have been contentious.

This development throws the squad announcement today wide open. Shakib is arguably the side’s best player and most importantly lends the team balance – he is worth his place as a batsman or bowler alone, and with him in the side Bangladesh almost have a 12th member. Therefore, the most significant part of today’s squad announcement will surround whether the board will grant Shakib’s request.

Apart from the South Africa Tests, Bangladesh are also scheduled to host Sri Lanka for a Test series within the next six months.