‘Absolutely normal’ – Tamim Iqbal on his ties with Shakib Al Hasan

Monitoring Desk

DHAKA: Bangladesh’s ODI captain Tamim Iqbal and Test captain Shakib Al Hasan might not be on the best terms off the field, but Tamim is of the firm opinion that their on-field relationship is in proper working order. He said as much in a press conference in Dhaka on Sunday, in the lead up to Bangladesh’s ODI series against England.

Shakib is part of the squad for this series but has not been present with the team in the build-up; Tamim said that is because he is away tending to a family matter.

“The important thing is when Shakib and I put on the Bangladesh jersey, we are giving our best. And if we are helping each other when we are leading the teams, nothing else matters,” Tamim said in reply to questions about a rift between the two, sparked by comments made by BCB head Nazmul Hasan in an interview with Cricbuzz. “Whatever anyone is saying, whether we have coffee together or not, these things don’t matter.

“I can assure you that I always get his help as an ODI captain, and I am always there if needs any suggestions in the Test team. When we bat together, or when we are celebrating his wicket, it’s absolutely normal.”

Shakib wasn’t available for a comment as he is reportedly in the USA for family reasons. Tamim said that he would have preferred to have Shakib with the squad ahead of the England series, but he understands why Shakib needs to be away. “It is definitely important for the whole squad to be together. But I have said it before that family is the most important thing. Family is above everything else.”

Tamim said he had sat down with Shakib in a meeting to work through things, but did not elaborate much. “It [the meeting] was between two individuals who are very important members of the team. The matter shouldn’t have come out of that room. I am not commenting on that. Everything [ending their disagreements] is possible.”

When asked whether it was distracting to deal with such questions before a big series, Tamim said he felt it was more important for him to clear the air. “I was prepared since yesterday [when Nazmul’s interview was published]. I have never seen so many journalists in one room. I knew these questions would come.

“It would have been very easy for me to say ‘No comments, let’s move forward’, but I think it was important to give my message to the journalists and fans.”

Tamim said that he had not noticed any cliques in the team, but the word has a way of popping up in the media when the team isn’t doing well. “I have been playing for Bangladesh for 17 years. At different times when the team wasn’t doing well, this term was being used. I am not just saying this – I am quite a straightforward person, and I have never seen grouping in my career.

“I don’t know if it developed in the last six months when I wasn’t with the team, but it doesn’t seem like it. I haven’t seen anything in the last three or four days [during the preparatory camp]. We have been having fun, talking about the BPL, etc. But sadly, when the team isn’t doing well, this term comes up. Now the team is doing well. And as far as I am concerned, everything is fine.”

The first of Bangladesh’s three ODIs against England will be played on March 1, followed by three T20Is. The ODIs are part of the ongoing Super League, from where the top eight sides will earn direct qualification for the World Cup later this year. Bangladesh are currently sixth in the points table, with England placed third.