Shakib Al Hasan, whose international ban ended late last month, is among 113 cricketers who must pass a fitness test – to be conducted on November 9 and 10 – before making it to the draft of the upcoming Bangabandhu T20 tournament.
A total of 80 cricketers, including Shakib, will be tested on the first day at the Shere Bangla National Stadium’s indoor facility, supervised by the board’s strength and conditioning coaches. None of them need to undergo a Covid-19 test, though they have been asked to follow health protocols.
The 12-month ban on the star allrounder, for failing to report corrupt approaches, ended on October 29. Shakib is currently in Minnesota, but is expected to arrive in Dhaka later this week.
Chief selector Minhajul Abedin said last week that the board wanted Shakib to play the T20 tournament, the second event in the 2020-21 domestic season, which doesn’t have too much cricket as Bangladesh is recovering from the effects of the Covid-19 situation.
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In October, the BCB held a three-team President’s Cup, where 46 cricketers – from the Bangladesh preliminary squad for the postponed Sri Lanka series and from the high-performance set-up – were picked. The Bangabandhu tournament is likely to be a five-team competition, beginning in late November, with the BCB, which has been trying to bring cricket back in the country slowly, managing the bio-secure bubbles.
It is the board’s continuous attempt to slowly bring back all the domestic competitions one by one, but not without managing the bio-bubble on their own in these two tournaments.
Apart from Shakib, 31 Bangladesh internationals have been called up for the tests, including Nasir Hossain, Sohag Gazi and Shahriar Nafees, who haven’t been in the scheme of things for the national team for a long while – 35-year-old Nafees last played internationally in April 2013.
The rest of the group is made up of first-class or club-level cricketers who played in last season’s National Cricket League, the Bangladesh Cricket League, and the Dhaka Premier League. Many of these cricketers have been training in the nets and gyms, and some have even participated in small T20 tournaments around the country to stay fit, as they haven’t played any competitive cricket since mid-March.
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