Bangladesh all-rounder Sakib al Hasan hit back at criticisms for taking a surprise break from Test cricket that took him out of Bangladesh squad for the two-Test series against South Africa.
Selectors left Sakib out of the 15-man squad after the Bangladesh Cricket Board accepted his request for the break, sparking a mixed reaction among the sports lovers of the country.
While some welcomed Sakib’s decision terming it as a deserved break, many fans in social media argued if Sakib could ask for it in other formats instead of Test or if he could skip a franchise-based Twenty20 tournament to avoid his fatigue.
‘I don’t react to the criticism because this is my body and only I can realise how much workload I’m taking,’ Sakib told reporters at his residence in Dhaka on Tuesday.
‘I got surprised when people asked me why I did not take the break from one-day or Twenty20 Internationals or from the foreign T20 league.
‘When I play foreign T20 leagues I feel hardly any pressure. For me, they are a kind of holiday.
‘Of course, they give me some experience. The financial side is also important.
‘But in a Test match, I had to bat and bowl, contribute in all four innings. Team also expects me to do that.
‘If I contribute in one-half and fail to do so in the other half, I cannot fulfill the expectations of my team. It’s not good if I cannot give my hundred per cent.
‘When I would do well in all four innings or I would at least feel that I have that ability to do that, I think that would be the best time for me to play.
‘I can play now if I wish, I will get match fees, but it has little meaning to me.
‘I understand that it’s my job, but at the end of the day, I am playing only out of my passion and love for the game.
‘If I don’t have these things I don’t think there is any point of keep playing,’ added the all-rounder.
According to an estimate, Sakib earned $7,12,000 from four Twenty20 tournaments that he played in 2016 and his income from the competitions should be close to similar figure this year.
Sakib played in every Test for Bangladesh since missing two games against the West Indies in 2014 because of suspension.
His decision of asking for a break came amid growing complaints of Bangladeshi players of getting little Test matches compared to their contemporary players from other countries.
Sakib, who made his debut in 2007, played only 51 Test matches in 11 years while England’s Alastair Cook featured in 147 Tests making his debut just a year before him.
The 30-year all-rounder, however, insisted that he decided to ask for a break only to refresh his body and mind that he hoped would allow him to play five to six years more.
‘The biggest reason is that I think I have still plenty of cricket left in me,’ said Sakib.
‘If I want to play that amount of cricket and play that well, I think this break is essential for me.
‘I personally feel if I continue like this, I would not be able to play more than one or two years.
‘I don’t want to play just for the sake of playing. The many days I will play, I want to play that well. That is my target.
‘That is why I think if I get this break I can refresh myself, more mentally than physically and play five or six years without any tension.
‘I think (playing five to six years more) is important for me than playing one or two matches or one and two months,’ he said.
Terming this break longest for him in many days, Sakib also thanked the Bangladesh Cricket Board profusely for accepting his request.
‘If I go to South Africa after two Test matches, I will get a break for about a month. I did not get this kind of break in last three or four years,’ he said.
‘I would like to thank BCB because they realised my situation.
‘I can understand my body more than anyone else. I need to manage that. That’s why I took this decision,’ he said.
Sakib dismissed the suggestion that he would abandon Test cricket completely to prolong his limited-over career, saying that it was his most preferred format of all.
‘It’s not that I stopped playing cricket. Of course, I will play Test. Why I should not. I have a desire of retiring from Test lastly,’ he said.
‘Firstly, I will quit Twenty20 and one-day internationals and then from Test.
‘But I don’t need to share my thought with anybody. People are conscious and I am also conscious about what should be good for me,’ he said.