Just days after being granted a break until 30 April, ace all-rounder Shakib Al Hasan has changed his decision and will be available for selection in the upcoming South Africa series. The decision came after a long discussion between Shakib and the Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) president Nazmul Hassan at the board headquarters on Saturday.
There has been a lot of speculation about Shakib's availability, especially in the longest format for a while now. In fact, the 34-year-old cricketer missed 18 of the 26 Tests featuring Bangladesh for injuries and personal reasons.
Last month there were reports in the media that he would skip the South Africa Tests too even after not getting picked in the IPL and take another six-month break from Tests.
But on 28 February, the BCB president Nazmul Hassan dismissed the rumours, saying, "Shakib told me that he wanted to play in the IPL. Since that's not happening this year, that means he's playing in the Tests in South Africa and I don't see any other options here."
After a dismal outing in the Afghanistan series, ending on 5 March, especially in the T20Is, Shakib said, "I am disappointed with the way I played the Afghanistan series. I'm not mentally and physically prepared to play international cricket at the moment. I felt like a passenger in the Afghanistan series."
Shakib further stated that he should not play the South Africa series given his mental condition. Shakib then flew to the UAE for personal business on 6 March.
After Shakib's statement, an enraged BCB president stated, "I think it is logical to think that if he was in a poor physical and mental state, he wouldn't have given his name in the IPL [auction]. But he went ahead with it. So, does it mean that if he got his IPL contract, he would have said the same thing? I absolutely do not understand this."
Just 24 hours after Hassan's statement, the Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) decided to grant Shakib a break from all forms of cricket until 30 April.
A day later, the BCB gave Shakib an all-format contract despite already missing a fair amount of Test cricket in the recent past. Selector Abdur Razzak said, "A player of Shakib's stature can't just be left out if he doesn't leave himself."
The BCB was supposed to discuss with Shakib his future plans and then make a decision. But his inclusion in the contracts prior to any kind of discussion meant that the BCB was never going to exclude Shakib from the plans.
Shakib returned home on 11 March, two days after the announcement of the annual contracts, from the UAE and was supposed to meet the board president on the same day. But the meeting took place a day later and there was once again a twist in the tale.
"Before today, I spoke to [Nazmul Hassan] Papon bhai a couple of days ago too. As I am given a three-format contract, I will be available for selection in all three formats. The board will decide when I will be rested. I am available for selection in the South Africa tour," Shakib said.
"Now that I've sat with the board & we've seen a one-year plan, I think it's going to be easier for me. I am available for all the formats including the South Africa tour," Shakib added.
"Shakib is mentally a bit disturbed and is having trouble in making decisions. I think we should support him in this situation. He has made himself available for all the formats. We'll rest him if the necessity arrives as playing all formats can get tiresome" said the BCB president.
Shakib mentioned that he is in a much better state now having seen a one-year plan. He said that he has a 'clear picture' in front of him and hoped to perform well in South Africa.
Nazmul Hassan said that he wants all the debate to stop right here and hoped that everyone would support Shakib at this stage. But only time will tell whether the drama is over or not.