Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home | Thursday, June 09, 2011


The Smiling Assassin

By Nayeem Islam

Shakib Al Hasan is riding on the crest of a wave which was created when he led Bangladesh to a Test and ODI series whitewash victory over the West Indies in the Caribbean two years ago. Although the World Cup and the series against Australia may be seen as a blemish on an almost impeccable record extending over two years, Shakib has already proven that talented Bangladeshi players are capable of taking their good form from one tournament to another.

While this season's IPL may be remembered as a tournament which failed to emulate the success of its predecessors, it certainly gave Shakib another opportunity to show why he topped the ICC all-rounder's rankings for more than a year. The IPL is definitely not a yardstick of greatness but it does present a pressure cooker situation for foreign players. Only four foreign players are allowed to play each match and since every team has a pool of foreign players to choose from, most players have to be content with warming the bench. And the discriminatory wages further deteriorates the situation because talented overseas players are deprived of the inflated pay packages that the average Indian player enjoys due to the foreign player quota. And while the likes of Brett Lee and Jacques Kallis can perform poorly and still afford to retain their places in the team, the less established overseas players face stiff competition to secure a position in the team.

The bitter experiences of Mashrafe, Razzak and Ashraful didn't help either. Yet the Bangladesh skipper chose to write the scripts differently. Cashing in on the failures of Lee and Lakshmipathy Balaji up front, Shakib, Iqbal Abdulla and Yusuf Pathan formed a trio of wicket taking spinners which eventually helped KKR to secure a coveted play-off position. Shakib's batting though was underutilised throughout IPL4 but next season his team will be more than happy to receive the full range of services from their prized possession.

Shakib's next destination is the Worcestershire County Cricket Club where his exploits last year have generated a huge fan following. Since his County stint finished last year, fans have already been waiting for him to return in 2011. But many fans feared that Shakib would be lured to a major club with realistic title ambitions because Worcestershire would be unable to afford him. To their delight Shakib has been rewarded with a better salary and other improved facilities and they are eagerly waiting for the fireworks to start from him.

Shakib's stellar performances with the bat and ball last season no doubt proved to our former colonial rulers that Bangladeshi players are capable of excelling in county cricket. And with more of our players following in Shakib's footsteps, talks of revoking our Test status should gradually be muted. And finally for Bangladesh, a nation which till now has been busy with the heroes from its mighty neighbours, a world class player has emerged and it's time everyone learns to support him through the good times as well as the bad.

As for Shakib, he needs to enjoy the good times while it lasts. The challenge for Shakib though lies in keeping himself fit because since the World Cup he has barely had any rest. We have all seen what a hectic schedule of international cricket and IPL can do to players and Bangladesh can't afford to embark on tough tours without the services of its skipper. If that problem can be resolved, the key beneficiary of Shakib's experience in the IPL and County cricket should be the national cricket team.

Sources: Prothom-Alo, www.wcccfansforum.com

The last issue ran the topic “On The Run”, which weirdly, most people thought meant “eloping”, which we hereby vehemently decry. It does not mean eloping. The following write-up was probably the best of the rest that we received. Next week's topic is Seeing Stars. Hopefully no sappy romances will ensue from this topic. Hopefully. Entries have to be written within 500 words and sent to ds.risingstars@gmail.com by noon Sunday.

On the Run

By Nirobpothik

“You have been away for a long time.”
“I thought so.”
“It's pointless.”
“I know. But I had no other option. I couldn't face you. I was burdened by guilt.”
“I tried to warn you. But you were too careless back then.”
“The world seemed different at that time.”
“Yes, of course. The colourful world. Or is it the looking glass that's makes it so attractive? ”
“I wanted to have it all. I was so blinded by my ambition… ”
“That you didn't even think about the others around you.”
“Please don't drown me.”
“I'm not trying to. Just trying to tell you something.”
“What is it?”
“You have to stop running away.”
“You know I can't do it.”
“Why not?”

“Because, I have done so many wrong things in my life… I've messed it all up. I made other people suffer. I was so reckless. All I wanted was money, fame, power. I was crazy for all of it. I forgot my family, my friends. I have used people as stairs; To gain what I wanted. I wanted more, and more, and more. I didn't realize where I was going. It never occurred to me that I was buying a ticket to hell. And then… it all changed”

“The old woman.”
“Yes, I don't know who she was. I was arrogant, and godless. Having fun with all the black money I earned.

That day I was out for a walk. As I was standing on the pathway, waiting for the traffic light to turn red, that woman in torn clothes came out of nowhere, told me something and then disappeared in the crowd.”

“And that was the beginning of the end.”

"I didn't think much of it at first. But then, it started growing like a cancer in my mind. Spread in me like a virus. I started realising that something was missing. Is missing. Something is not right. I became conscious about the fact that I did not know what happiness is.

"Soon everything started backfiring. My rivals were in power. My own so-called friends left me. In about a week, I became most wanted.

"I sought refuge from all those people I knew; but they had commonsense. And since then I have been on the run. I have been running away from you, from life itself. ”

“You can't run away forever.”
“That's why I've come back to you.”
“Would you listen to me now?”
“I will.”
“Then do what you should do.”
He moved away from the mirror. Opened the door, and walked outside. Guns were pointed at him.
“You reap what you sow” He whispered to himself.


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