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Shakib Al Hasan – ‘Corona and my suspension have taught me to think differently about my life’

Shakib Al Hasan has urged cricketers not to take any corrupt approach lightly, and to report the, to anti-corruption officials as soon as possible. Speaking in a Youtube video where he took questions from fans and journalists, Shakib repented his failure to report an approach, for which he was banned for 12 months by the ICC. The ban came to an end on October 29.

At the time of his sentencing last year, the ICC’s anti-corruption unit published evidence that Shakib had been in contact with bookie Deepak Aggarwal (who was later banned for two years by the ICC) and had exchanged Whatsapp messages with him since November 2017.

“I regret getting suspended, and I was repentant,” Shakib said. “I shouldn’t have made this mistake. I think I will get a great lesson out of it. I would urge everyone not to make this mistake. Whenever a similar situation arises, you should abide by your responsibility according to the ICC code of conduct.

“You should inform an anti-corruption officer, whether local or international. We are all well aware of the procedure. Don’t make this mistake of not informing them. Don’t take it lightly. Rather than getting influenced by it, you must report it immediately.”

Shakib said it had been a mental challenge for him to play the 2019 World Cup with the investigation hanging over his head. It wasn’t known publicly then, but Shakib was in regular contact with the ICC’s anti-corruption unit six months before the World Cup. “I think it was very challenging,” Shakib said. “The investigation was going on for a long time, and they were in continuous contact with me. It was an uncomfortable situation for me. It is nothing nice for any cricketer, and its not great to go to sleep on.

“I knew something was going to happen, although I did consider that nothing might happen. I wasn’t sure of the punishment. By the time I knew about it, you were also aware of it. The investigation period wasn’t certainly an easy one for me.”

When the World Cup came around, Shakib turned in a record-breaking all-round performance, scoring 604 runs at an average of 86.57 and taking 11 wickets at 36.27. It was the first time an allrounder had completed the double of 500 runs and 10 wickets at a World Cup. Shakib said his performance wasn’t a response to the investigation.

“It had nothing to do with my World Cup performance,” he said. “I could have been banned before the World Cup because the investigation began in November or December (2018). I never thought that I had to do well because of the investigation.

“I wanted to do well in the World Cup because I didn’t do well in previous World Cups, I didn’t live up to my reputation previously. I thought it was the perfect time and age for me. [Batting at No. 3] was a suitable position for me, so I tried to maximise it.”

After getting past the initial sorrow of being banned, Shakib said he made peace with the fact that he could come back in a year’s time. He said the suspension and the Covid-19 pandemic had given him a new perspective to life.

“When I heard the news it was a shock to me. I was upset and sorry,” he said. “At the same time, I was thinking that ‘okay, life has given me a chance. I have one year to prepare myself and when I come back, I need to prove again.’ This is the courage I got when I got suspended.

“Corona and my suspension have taught me to think differently about my life. I believe only a struggle can make a person think in this way. When a person comes back from such circumstances, they do it strongly. I think very differently now, and that’ll help me in my life.”

Shakib was welcomed back by his teammates with warm statements from the likes of Mahmudullah, Mushfiqur Rahim and a host of others, but the allrounder said that he’d understand it if anyone still doubts him.

“It is not easy to know about everyone’s feelings,” he said. “They may doubt me or not trust me, I am not denying it. But I have been in touch with almost everyone so I haven’t felt it among them. I am hopeful it won’t be a problem, and they will keep believing in me like they used to. But it is not impossible for them to have a bit of doubt. There wouldn’t be any regret about it.”

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