Magura, BANGLADESH: Turning his star sports activities energy to politics, colourful Bangladeshi cricketer Shakib Al Hasan is all however assured to turn out to be a ruling get together lawmaker with common elections on Sunday boycotted by the opposition.
Higher often called the main all-rounder of his period, the 36-year-old skipper has been on a whirlwind marketing campaign for the ruling get together of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.
The result’s barely in query.
Opposition events withdrew from a vote they mentioned could be neither free nor honest, accusing Hasina of ruling with an iron fist.
Shakib conceded he was not dealing with any severe impediment to his election, however advised AFP whereas on the hustings that the competition nonetheless made him anxious.
“The competitors and challenges are at all times there, be it a small workforce or large workforce,” he mentioned in his hometown Magura, the place he’s contesting a seat for Hasina’s Awami League.
“Even after we know we’ll win towards a workforce, we nonetheless really feel our coronary heart beat earlier than the sport.”
Shakib’s marketing campaign obliged him to take a short lived depart of absence from cricket.
He skipped a New Zealand tour the place the workforce has shone with out him, making historical past with their first one-day and Twenty20 wins towards the Black Caps on the hosts’ soil.
As a substitute, he has been pounding the streets from morning til late, surrounded by cheering get together loyalists and boys eager to fulfill their sporting hero.
However he bristled on the suggestion he wouldn’t be capable of steadiness his duties as a lawmaker and a cricket captain.
“Did I retire?” he requested. “If I haven’t retired, then the place does this query come from?“
Wearing a standard white tunic, he playfully lobbed tennis balls into excited crowds as youngsters broke by way of safety cordons to pose for selfies.
However whereas the crowds out to fulfill him have been cheering, the few thousand who gathered have been comparatively small for a sporting star of his stature.
Shakib is the one particular person to have been ranked the number-one all-rounder in all three codecs concurrently by the Worldwide Cricket Council.
He was a young person when he was recruited to the nation’s premier sports activities academy and simply 19 at his worldwide debut in 2006 as a batting all-rounder.
By the next yr, he was already a star when he hit a fifty in a David-and-Goliath present towards India within the World Cup — a victory nonetheless spoken of reverentially by Bangladeshi followers.
He has additionally garnered a fame for ill-discipline, with a rebellious streak that after noticed him threaten a spectator with a bat, and that earned him a three-match ban after making a lewd gesture to a tv crew.
However his focus for now could be the election, urging individuals to “work collectively” and to offset the influence of the boycott by the primary opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Occasion (BNP).
Police have arrested opposition officers and activists en masse over fees of violence following months of protests that left not less than 11 individuals useless.
The BNP says hundreds of its leaders and activists have been detained, successfully snuffing out credible opposition within the polls.
For Shakib, what issues shouldn’t be criticism of Hasina’s rights document however relatively Bangladesh’s spectacular financial progress over her tenure.
“I believe Sheikh Hasina is a task mannequin on the earth, particularly in a rustic like ours the place there are many issues,” he mentioned.
Cricket’s immense reputation in South Asia has long-established the game’s high expertise into a few of the area’s greatest celebrities, and Shakib follows different captains who leveraged their stardom on the pitch into political careers.
India’s Sachin Tendulkar, who nonetheless holds the all-time Check run document, took a seat in India’s parliament months earlier than saying his retirement.
Imran Khan, who led Pakistan throughout their 1992 World Cup win, had a tumultuous time period as prime minister of his nation earlier than his ouster final yr.
Shakib batted away strategies he hoped to observe in Khan’s footsteps, saying he was centered on his present aspirations and never “future goals.”
He hopes his sporting attraction will encourage individuals to vote for him as a candidate, saying he was prepared for a brand new problem.
“Once I began taking part in cricket, I by no means dreamt that I might play cricket for 20 years,” he mentioned.
“Because the time passes, the dream will change accordingly. If one goal is fulfilled, then I can take into consideration the subsequent.”