Over 13 years, the world has probably seen an emotionally distraught Shakib Al Hasan just once – when the ace all-rounder cried his heart out with his teammates after a heart-breaking defeat to Pakistan in the final of the 2012 Asia Cup.
Shakib has since grown in stature both on and off the field. To most who have followed the champion all-rounder closely, he became a more mature, smarter and most importantly less emotional character.
Very rarely has Shakib shown outward emotion, instead maintaining a steely personality who was guided by pragmatism and came across as a strong individual, and of course a world-class cricketer.
The cameras constantly try to capture the image of the star cricketer wherever he goes. Yesterday, however, the scenario was a totally different one.
The poster boy of Bangladesh cricket was about to arrive at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium in Mirpur at around 8:00 pm. In the hours leading up to that moment, millions of cricket lovers of the country and around the world were shocked by news that the International cricket Council had banned Shakib from all cricket for two years, with one of those years suspended, after he accepted the three charges of failing to report the approaches from a bookie.
The white BMW sedan was supposed to enter Gate 2 of the home of cricket in Mirpur, where around 50 to 60 fans were protesting the suspension of Shakib, but the cricketer decided to come in from the other end of the stadium.
The strong body language that the 32-year-old has been known to project in public and during his heroics on the field had changed drastically as a blank-faced Shakib walked towards the elevator. Once again, there was a massive number of cameras focused at him but it was not the same Shakib who just a few days ago took a leading and outspoken role in the players’ strike.
Mostly, Shakib tried to keep his head down and while entering the elevator he even tried to hide from the cameras, but there were too many there tracking his every move and expression closely.
As he stepped out, he strolled past another crowd and walked towards BCB President Nazmul Hassan’s office, and after a short meeting Shakib was about to face the media.
The cameras were back with redoubled force as Shakib stood alongside Hassan and two other board directors, Jalal Yunus and Enayet Hossain Siraj. As the media were preparing before the start of the briefing it was for the first time that Shakib looked defeated and low in confidence as he looked towards the people around him trying to capture the moment and his emotions, but this time it was for all the wrong reasons.
At one point, Shakib’s eyes were welling up, perhaps because he knew that this was not how the script was supposed to go, and almost reached breaking point until he managed to gather himself and get ready to face the media.
After he read out the official statement, which he had already said in the ICC press release earlier in the day, and later expressed hope that he would be able to return stronger than before.
While speaking each word, Shakib’s face was screaming with disappointment and eyes were filled with remorse. The jam-packed compound could feel Shakib’s pain as he was not allowed to answer any questions from the media and walked towards the elevator for the last time.
As he walked away, there was one brief glimpse of Shakib the enigma. In all his distress, he managed to smile at a few known faces before boarding the elevator.
That was perhaps in the hope that, much like millions of his fans who will wait eagerly for the next 365 days, he will be able to return and see better days than yesterday.