Bangladesh star looks to upset cricket world order

Bangladesh’s young all-rounder Shakib Al Hasan, who has been lauded as one of cricket’s brightest prospects, believes his country can soon lift itself into the top tier of the game.

Bangladesh have floundered against the world’s best, but Shakib has recently led by example, becoming the top all-rounder in global one-day rankings and winning the Wisden Cricketer magazine’s Test Player of the Year for 2009.

The soft-spoken 22-year-old, standing in as Bangladesh captain in place of the injured Mashrafe Mortaza, said the nation could tranform cricket’s world order.

“One day, no one will consider Bangladesh the underdogs,” Shakib told AFP.

“There will be no automatic predictions that we will end up losing. In the next five years I want to see Bangladesh ranked third to fifth in the world.’

Bangladesh, who won Test status in 2000, have won just three of their 61 Tests so far, losing 52 while six were drawn.

They have enjoyed better success in one-day cricket, winning 55 of their 211 matches, including a place in the second round of the 2007 World Cup in the West Indies.

Shakib, a left-arm spinner, became an overnight star when he led Bangladesh to their first Test win abroad against a second-string West Indies in July.

When Bangladesh went on to defeat fellow minnows Zimbabwe 4-1 in a one-day series in August, Shakib was promptly labelled by experts at home the finest Bangladeshi player ever.

In the eight Tests Shakib played between September 2008 and August 2009 against tough opponents like New Zealand and South Africa, he took 45 wickets, including five five-wicket hauls, and scored 498 runs at an average of 35,57.

Last week he captained a comfortable 4-1 one-day home series win over Zimbabwe.

Shakib said he did not consider the captaincy role a burden but looked forward to the return of Mortaza, who has been sidelined since July because of knee problems.

“The key to being a good captain is to be decisive and also focus on your own game,” he said. “It’s difficult for a captain to be confident if he’s not performing.”

Shakib also credited the team’s recent success to Australian-born coach Jamie Siddons, who has been at the helm of the Bangladeshi team for two years.

“The most important characteristic in him is his positive attitude towards everything,” he said.
“Jamie is very good at extracting the best in a player.

“In my case, my batting has improved so much because of him,” Shakib said of Siddons, who recently signed on to stay as coach for another two years.

Shakib, who hails from a family of footballers, said that as a youngster he modelled his cricket on Pakistani batsman Saeed Anwar and Pakistani fast bowler Wasim Akram.

Shakib laughed off suggestions he is Bangladesh’s most eligible bachelor and said his life was still the same, except he found it difficult to go out in public because he was now swamped by fans.

“There are a good number of marriage offers,” he said. “I’ve lost count of the number. I don’t like talking about this sort of stuff and I never take the offers too seriously.

“At home life is normal. My family celebrates my success, but I am still an ordinary son to my mother, and she fusses over me like any mother fusses over her son. Outside, though, it’s pretty difficult to move freely.”—AFP

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