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Ahoy mates! It's your beloved Gopalda again. Shakib-al-Hasan left for Zimbabwe in an eddy of controversies, but he returned home as the leading performer for his side. Although his solid stats should be enough to silence the critics, he still has seven seas to travel before he matures as a tough pilot of the same ranks as Dhoni or Ponting. So get your sextants and spyglasses ready and allow me to take a cruise through the captain's log.

From the captain's deck

Published: 23rd August, 2011

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"Billions of blue blistering barnacles!"

Are we in good hands?

Shakib al Hasan went to Zimbabwe amidst petty politics and media criticisms. He must have docked at Namibia because he sure did bring severed Finger of God as souvenir to the ones yapping at the sidelines of arena.

Perhaps a one-liner of his statistical figures would suffice culled from the ODI series:

Player Mat Inns NO Runs HS Ave BF SR 100 50 0 4s 6s
Shakib Al Hasan 5 5 1 216 79 54.00 250 86.40 0 2 0 13 2

ESPNCRICIFNO

Not only he is the highest scoring Bangladeshi but he has the highest average of 54.00 of the entire lot. He has bailed out the team two times from wreckage and has the best bowling figures in the solitary Test match from the guests' table.

Player Mat Inns Overs Mdns Runs Wkts BBI BBM Ave Econ SR 5 10 Ct St
Shakib Al Hasan 1 2 44.0 9 122 4 3/62 4/122 30.50 2.77 66.0 0 0 1 0

After his bowling feats in IPL-Worcestershire stint, much was said to be about his batting, or lack of, thereof. On top of it pile on scuttlebutts of yellow journalism and rural palavers and the loss of first match in the form of Test defeat, suddenly, much was said to be his captaincy. Yours truly, who by no means is a trigger-happy thread opener, cried for his head. However, at the end of the day, when numbers telescope out it is no brainer that despite the fact he never had smooth sailing, he has consistently managed readable figures- when his crew at the other ends were falling at regular intervals in matches rigged with traps. Twice he has scored fifty in ODI series and the solid 88-ball 69 in the Test match which included seven boundaries is enough of a testament to his abilities as a performer.

But what about his captaincy?

It is not easy to acclimatize to foreign conditions especially kicking off with a test match where buoyant people are ravenously waiting for a win due to he fact that Test match has returned after six years to their land. May be certain leniency and exoneration is on order for Shakib?

Shakib Al Hasan put in a solid all-round performance, helping Bangladesh win the final ODI against Zimbabwe in Bulawayo © Zimbabwe Cricket
Shakib Al Hasan put in a solid all-round performance, helping Bangladesh win the final ODI against Zimbabwe in Bulawayo © Zimbabwe Cricket
As coach Stuart Law rightly pointed out, our players lack the vision to see from different angle. An athlete by nature must also be inquisitive. Too many times one gets in the rut of monotony which needs to be broken free, yet when Shakib decided to go on a leave, that is the time we grilled him for committing papal fallacy. Vladimir Nabokov once said, "Genius is an African who dreams up snow." While Iceman himself has failed on it -notwithstanding his role as rainmaker with runs- Brendan Taylor has acted on it in the 5th ODI. I am referring to the occasion where Taylor concocted a three-phrase attack: 1) sacrifice an over from Waller to have Ray Price switch ends; 2) put an economical Price constantly gnawing away at the newly walk-in Shuvogato Hom at the crease and finally 3) load up a pseudo-powerplay field setting while knowing Bangladesh's weak-point of hoisting their own petards over inner circle. Result? A perfect kill by forcing a school boy error off Hom to scoop straight at deep-mid-wicket Waller's throat.

These are the subtleties that Shakib al Hasan needs to pick up on. And the fact that he is young should not be excuse, rather put to an advantage. Are there scope for seven specialist all rounders like Australia in the team? Should one always open with Rubel instead of the skipper himself taking the lead while leaving the big man to wipe away the tail? Must one always try to tally up wickets instead of aiming to beat a 1969 Somerset spinner's best of 8-8-0-0 in a 40-over match? How bad was Ashraful as a waste of space at number three on fifth ODI and should he be given chance by the selectors? Captaincy is a major craft and countless paths lead to draw inspiration. It is also doubtful if captains of the national squad ever studied the game religiously by paying attention to commentary criticisms in the spirit of Sachin who used to retire to the nets right after getting out and try to sort out his mistake.

To be a cunning player cum captain you need to transcend your limitations. Captaincy requires as much creativity as painting a masterpeice. There is planning, draftsmanship involved and as much color as line, light and shape's harmonious interplay. To compose a symphony one needs to understand that the game. Does the team as a whole unit have enough temperament to focus solely for three hours in fielding when an average attention span lasts for 20 minutes according to pop psychology gurus? There is a reason why Australia's flag was luffing in pride for straight World Cup periods: they are a developed country with more luxurious access to amenities for refinements of their game.

And finally, it doesn't hurt to explore areas outside ones comfort zone to find more about oneself.

Shakib has performed superbly as a player in the Zimbabwe series as evinced by the numerical bulwark; however, captaincy is an area that he needs to improve upon by crafting diplomatically to take his game to the next level.

 

About the author(s): Having graced the forum behind the dramatis personae of Gopal Bhar, Zeeshan now chiefly lurks here for nearby free iftar locations ie when not contemplating about Gödel, Escher and Bach or other meta-mathematical themes. He is also the author of "Collected Writings on Cricket".

 

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