'I deserve a break' – Shakib

Shakib Al Hasan felt he deserved a break from the expectations of performing consistently in Tests for the last ten years. He said he had informed his family last month about his plans of asking the BCB for a six-month break after the home series against Australia.

The BCB granted him a shorter break, during which he will miss the two Tests against South Africa later this month, Bangladesh’s first in the country since 2008. Akram Khan, the BCB’s cricket operations chairman, said Shakib has the option of playing the second Test “if he wants”.

“I have been thinking about taking the break for quite some time now,” Shakib said. “I have spoken to my family and friends ahead of this series about this break. I think this will help me. Since I play a lot, I can’t focus on my fitness or even try to be mentally fresh. I have been playing for 10-11 years, so I think I deserve a break.

“In Test cricket, my role is such that I have to contribute in all four innings. If I am contributing half the time, I won’t be able to meet the team’s expectations. I think it is best to play when I know I can give my best in all four innings. It is not important to me to just play for the sake of match fees and salary. This is my job, for sure, but I started playing out of interest, passion and love for the game. If that’s not there, I don’t see the point in playing.”

Shakib said he was surprised by the criticism that came in the wake of his request.

“I don’t react to those [criticisms]. I know how much my body goes through. I am surprised when people question why I am not resting from limited-overs matches or other T20s. There are really no pressures when playing those T20 matches. It seems like a holiday to me, with a bit of experience and of course, it is financially important too,” he said.

Shakib said it wasn’t too hard convincing the BCB to grant him the break since they realised that it was going to help him in the future. “I will be taking a break of around a month if I go [to South Africa] after the two Tests. I haven’t had such a break in the last three or four years.

“I thank the BCB for understanding how big a deal this is for me. They said it was a good idea after hearing me out. At the end of the day, I know my body better than anyone. I have to manage it. I didn’t ask for anything unethical. I think that’s why they accepted it and it wasn’t a lot of hard work to convince them,” he said.

Shakib also urged other members of the Bangladesh team to speak up about taking breaks if they felt they couldn’t handle the expectations of international cricket. Currently, Tamim Iqbal and Mushfiqur Rahim are just behind Shakib in terms of days spent in the field in the last ten years.

“If anyone feels that he or she needs a break after having played too much cricket, they should be open about it. It will be better for their career. You will want me to be dropped if I am playing against my wishes,” he said.

Source: ESPN Crickinfo

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