Prior to his departure for Australia on Friday night, premier Bangladesh all-rounder Shakib Al Hasan said that his injured finger would never be the same again.
“This finger [his left little finger] will not be 100 per cent okay again. Since the bone is soft here, there is no possibility to fix it like it was before. By operating they [the doctors] will bring it to a position so that I can grip the bat well and continue my career as a cricketer,” Shakib told reporters with a somber voice at the Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport.
His latest statement is quite moving, especially after the way his injury was handled by the team management during last month's Asia Cup in the UAE.
Bangladesh team manager Khaled Mahmud told reporters the night before the Tigers' virtual semifinal against Pakistan that Shakib's chance of playing the game on September 26 was 50-50. However, the following day the 31-year-old all-rounder took a flight back home with a painful and swollen little finger. Upon his return to Dhaka, he was scheduled to fly to the United States within the next couple of days to have an operation on his injured finger. But after he experienced severe pain, he was admitted to a city hospital, where the doctors removed 50 to 60 mg of pus. He stayed at the hospital for four days to make sure the infection subsided.
The amount of pus removed from his finger and the severity of the infection raised the question that he might not have been properly treated by the Bangladesh cricket team's physio Thihan Chandramohan when the key Bangladesh player was with the team in Dubai from mid-September. Although the physio never spoke regarding the issue and avoided inquisitive reporters when he went to see Shakib at the hospital on September 30, the notion that the injury aggravated dramatically and that Shakib was under constant monitoring in Dubai is quite incredulous.
In the Asia Cup, where Bangladesh eventually finished runners-up after losing that nail-biting final against India, opener Tamim Iqbal was put on hero's a perch for batting with one hand in the tournament opener against Sri Lanka. Tamim certainly defied warnings from the physio when he came out to bat with a fractured left wrist. But at any point did the physio -- the technical support person who is paid heavily by the Bangladesh Cricket Board -- warn that if Shakib kept on playing with his injured finger it would be a career-damaging endeavour? If that was not the case then it was a clear case of negligence, primarily on the part of the physio and the team management in general.
“There is no question of negligence. Our effort is to provide the best possible treatment to Shakib. He is our key player and we want him to recover fully and return to national duty soon,” BCB CEO Nizamuddin Chowdhury said yesterday.
“Our priority is Shakib's safety. We are also working on it to find out if there was anything wrong in the assessment (by the physio),” added the chief executive.
Shakib sustained the injury during the tri-nation ODI final against Sri Lanka in January this year and was subsequently sidelined for two Tests and as many T20Is against the Lankans. Although he returned to action in March during the Nidahas Trophy in Sri Lanka, he was advised to have an operation at a suitable time. Prior to the Asia Cup, Shakib said he was only 20 to 30 per cent fit. But nobody -- the coach, the captain and the board president -- entertained the suggestion. Shakib, in pain, played the Asia Cup and unfortunately was not his usual self either with the ball or the bat. He tried to make up for that physical deficiency with mental toughness. But it was only after he collapsed that everyone took his claim seriously.
“No one is indispensible. Bangladesh played well without a couple of key players in the Asia Cup. There is always scope for a new player to step in,” Shakib said on Friday night, adding that if everything goes well he would be able to return to action for the Bangladesh Premier League in January next year.
True, no one is indispensible. But Shakibs are rare in world cricket and extremely precious for Bangladesh.