The Inspiring Story of Shakib Al Hasan

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Issue 13, Volume 111

By Nakib Abedin 

Despite being unknown to most Americans, Shakib Al Hasan is one of the most successful and talented cricketers in the world right now. He is Bangladesh’s star player and was ranked as the number one all-rounder (a cricketer who is equally adept with the bat and bowling) in all three formats of cricket in 2015, becoming the first and only player ever to do so. Al Hasan has won numerous trophies and has become one of the most beloved players across the globe. However, the success in his career came from humble beginnings, and his journey is an inspiration to cricket fans worldwide.

His story starts in a village in the Khulna district of Bangladesh, where he played for various village teams across the country. While playing one of these games, an umpire was impressed by his skills and got him to try out for a professional club. In the first ball he ever bowled, Al Hasan got a wicket, which would be the first of many to come across his lifetime. He was forced to use a tennis ball throughout his childhood because cricket balls are expensive and require high maintenance. After that debut performance, he worked his way up the ranks until he was selected to represent Bangladesh in U-19’s cricket.

Al Hasan started to play regularly for the national team between 2006 and 2008. In the earlier years of his career, he was deemed more of a batsman than a bowler, despite being an all-rounder. However, in a test match versus New Zealand in 2008, Al Hasan’s coach played him as a specialist bowler. This decision paid off, as Al Hasan’s bowling performance that game turned out to be one of the best in the entire year. Since then, Al Hasan has been equally adept with the ball and bat and has slowly become one of the best all-rounders in history.

Al Hasan’s career-defining performance would be his heroics in the 2019 ICC Cricket World Cup. He put up unprecedented numbers, scoring an incredible 606 runs while also taking an impressive 11 wickets. He was the man of the match in every one of Bangladesh’s wins. Surprisingly, he played only eight games out of a possible nine because a game versus Sri Lanka was canceled due to the weather. He was on track to beat the all-time record of 673 runs set by Sachin Tendulkar, boasting a batting average of 86.57, which was comfortably higher than Tendulkar’s 61.18. Putting up these numbers while being an all-rounder is simply remarkable, and his individual performances in that World Cup were legendary.

Al Hasan’s career wasn’t without hurdles, though. After the amazing World Cup campaign, he received a one-year ban from cricket between October 2019 and October 2020 due to charges on the infringement of corruption protocol. It is important to note that Al Hasan never actually accepted bribes. He received an offer from bookmakers and chose not to act on it. However, under ICC protocol, a player has to report cases such as these to the Corruption Commission. Many viewed this punishment as too harsh, but Al Hasan fully cooperated with the investigation and accepted the charges. The blow of the punishment was somewhat softened by the COVID-19 pandemic as there were few cricket games between March and October 2020.

Moving past the ban, Al Hasan can look forward to the next World Cup. At 34 years of age, the 2023 World Cup may be his last. However, he is surrounded by promising talent and a squad with a blend of youth and experience, including seniors such as Tamim Iqbal and Mushfiqur Rahim and youngsters such as Mohammad Saifuddin and Mehidy Hasan Mairaj. If he can replicate his performances in the last World Cup, he may hold a strong claim to be the greatest all-rounder of all time. Al Hasan’s diligence and passion got him to where he is right now, and his story is an inspiration to a generation of fans.