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29 October, 2020 01:42:27 PM

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"Shakib ready to play at any time", says childhood coach Salahuddin

Cricbuzz/ Bangalore
A file photo of Shakib Al Hasan

Shakib Al Hasan, the Bangladesh allrounder, will be eligible to resume playing competitive cricket from October 29 following the one-year ban he received from the ICC for failing to disclose a corrupt approach from bookies. Coach Russell Domingo and chief selector Minhajul Abedin stressed on the importance of patience when it came to Shakib regaining his form.

His childhood mentor Mohammad Salahuddin, on the other hand, is confident that the 33-year-old won't take long to hit the ground running considering his hunger for cricket after a lengthy break.

While there is jubilation in Bangladesh surrounding Shakib's comeback, there is also concern over his form and fitness as he has remained away from cricket for a substantial amount of time. "Certainly we are excited to get Shakib back in our team but at the same time you cannot expect a miracle from him right away," said Minhajul. "Let him come and start playing in the domestic tournament as it will help him adapt to competitive cricket, considering he has been away from it for a reasonable amount of time. We should be patient with him and give him time but he is a very experienced player and he won't take long to get back into rhythm."

While calling him the 'best allrounder in the world' Domingo also spoke of the need for patience. "You can't be expecting him to come straight away, and perform massive miracles. You have to be patient with him. He hasn't played cricket for a year now. He is keen to play. He is the best all-rounder in the world. But he will also need to find his way. There's a big difference between facing throwdowns and bowling machines, and facing a 140kph bowler in pressure situations. He will also need some time to find his feet and get his confidence back," said Domingo.

However, neither Domingo nor Minhajul have had the chance to observe Shakib's training from close quarters like Salahuddin and Nazmul Abedin did. Salahuddin and Nazmul, Shakib's childhood coaches, designed the individual training sessions for Shakib and oversaw his training. Salahuddin, speaking to Cricbuzz, said Shakib "is ready to play at any time".

"There were match scenarios in practice. My personal observation is that he never lacked match practice. He can think that he might need a couple of matches to get back into the groove but I don't think that way. I think he understands cricket quite well and he's a thinking cricketer. That gives him an edge over others," he said.

Shakib stayed with his in-laws in the US for over five months before returning to Bangladesh on September 2. Three days later, he began an intense individual training programme at the BKSP away from the media spotlight. The training camp had to stop after four weeks and his plan to make an international comeback during the Test series against Sri Lanka was put on hold with the series being postponed.

Apart from Salahuddin and Nazmul, BKSP's athletic coach Abdullah Hel Kafi and boxing coach Ariful Karim were also involved in Shakib's training. While Kafi worked on the cricketer's fitness, Ariful's focus was on enhancing his agility and flexibility. According to Salahuddin, the training sessions were the toughest but Shakib was up to the task.

"A lot of cricketing things are related to boxing - including footwork, hand-eye coordination and using power. A lot of boxing positions are quite similar to cricket, whether it is bowling, batting or throwing. It's not only a reflex but how to generate power, getting into the best position for batting. Like a boxer goes into his best position in the blink of an eye so that he can hit his opponent as hard as he can, you can relate it with cricket as well,'' said Salahuddin.

"Probably for the first time I witnessed that he was struggling at times while going through the programme but he never refused back down. It was a very tough training programme but he never shied away from it. Rather, he was very enthusiastic throughout the time he spent in BKSP. I think he was prepared to take the load even when it was difficult and exhausting. At times even I felt 'let's give him rest in the evening session' but he refused to take that saying 'I came here to take all the pain and prepare myself so why skip the session'.

"I think he had an intense desire to prepare himself. There were times when his training was scheduled at 9:00 am but he came to the field early in the morning, ran alone, went to his room and later arrived to complete the session with us. Normally we had a lot of sessions and we used to have at least three to four sessions a day with skill and fitness training."

Salahuddin had worked with Shakib ahead of the World Cup, spending time with the allrounder during his stint with Sunrisers Hyderabad in the 2019 edition of the IPL. Having also overseen his training recently, Salahuddin said he found Shakib's skills and mental approach to be intact despite being out of cricket for such a long time.

"I think he will come back stronger. I did not see any vast change in his mentality. I think he will be able to play the way he used to. There was no major lacking in his skills and it seems it is still in the same place where it used to be. Cricketing skill-wise, he did not seem to be affected much despite not playing for such a long time. Surely there is something lacking in fitness - that is because he did not work on his fitness for a long time and he took some time to regain it. But most surprisingly he did not have much problem when it comes to dealing with cricketing skills.

"His prime focus needs to be on regaining his full fitness and I am sure he won't take long to achieve that given his determination. If you don't have the required fitness, chances are high that your concentration will be broken. If it is in the right place then concentration level will not be affected despite being in the middle for a long time, while the skill also improves due to fitness. That is quite natural," Salahuddin said.

Apart from skill and fitness, being mentally strong is also an important factor for Shakib when he makes his comeback. Salahuddin, having known him for a long time, insists that his conviction and hunger will help him put the past behind.

Salahuddin added that knowing Shakib for a long time, he can say with conviction that this unexpected trauma won't have a long lasting effect on his mind and felt that he will be driven by the hunger that he had seen in his eyes from childhood.

"When he is on the field he is a completely different person and he is not bothered by what is happening around him. I have known him from his childhood and I know that he can take everything in his stride - that includes appreciation and criticism from any corner. I think his biggest strength is that he can handle both success and failure with the same mindset and this approach helps him remain guarded against complacency," he concludes.

 

SI

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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman

Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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