Mohammad Salahuddin, who has mentored Shakib Al Hasan since his BKSP days, received a text message from his pupil which read, ‘Thank you Sir’, after the star all-rounder smashed his maiden hundred in the World Cup against hosts England in Cardiff on Saturday.
‘From when did you become an Englishman? Giving thanks to me?’ was Salahuddin’s response and this perhaps best describes their fond relationship.
The dynamic between Shakib and Salahuddin is not just one of a coach and his student but rather the former Bangladesh fielding coach is more a friend with whom Shakib can share anything, be it technical issues on the field or off the field incidents. Salahuddin, who has seen Shakib grow from a small child to a mature individual, described the champion all-rounder’s character, both as a person and player, during an in-depth conversation with The Daily Star’s Mazhar Uddin.
The emotional part
Many might feel that Shakib is not very emotional and chooses to portray himself as aloof. However, it was the same Shakib that cried his heart out in front of Salahuddin after being dropped from the team during the Sri Lanka series back in 2008 and also when he was banned for six months for an off the field incident in 2014.
“When he was dropped from the Sri Lanka series back in 2008, I took him to my room and scolded him as he cried a lot. Even when he was banned for six months, I saw an emotional Shakib. But to be honest, when it comes to the reality such as injuries and other things, it does not affect Shakib mentally or emotionally as he has that realisation. I won’t say that he doesn’t have any emotions at all but he understands practicality. For example, when he is criticised by the media it does not affect him as he has nothing to do with such things. So, he does not react to such things, knowing that if he takes it seriously it might affect him,” said Salahuddin.
For over 13 years Shakib has represented Bangladesh with fierce consistency, for which he is still ranked as the number one ODI all-rounder in the world. Even for the best in the business there are certain distractions while could take a player’s focus off the game, however, this has never been the case for Shakib.
“He never gets distracted as he knows very well that it is because of cricket that he is able to reach these heights. That is why he is ready to sacrifice anything for cricket but he will never sacrifice a bit of cricket for anything else. Today he is Shakib only because of cricket, nothing else, and he knows that,” Salahuddin explained.
Proper guidance is the key to success in any field and it was Salahuddin who helped keep Shakib on track.
“He took a lot of stick from me for off the field issues as there was not much for me to guide when it came to cricket. But when it was about off the field issues, I always told him what to do from my point of view and I think he tried to listen. There were certain situations where he was criticised by the media but rather than Shakib, it’s the people who are close to him who get more worried, which he tries to calm down,” informed Salahuddin.
The definition of determination varies from person to person and the case is similar for Shakib. He called on Salahuddin for individual training during his Indian Premier League stint to better prepare for the World Cup on his own expense. It was Shakib’s hunger to improve was something Salahuddin always praised.
“He told me many times in the past to come and watch the IPL but as he was not playing this time it was different. You can’t have any bigger determination than this, to call someone to work all on your own expense. Obviously, there was something in his mind to do even better this time. I don’t talk to him a lot apart from important issues as he is grown up and reached a certain level.”