Bangladesh ODI skipper Tamim Iqbal has changed his mind about retirement from all forms of international cricket after an audience with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.
He will rejoin after a one-and-a-half-month break, according to the changed decisions taken at the meeting with Hasina at the Ganabhaban in Dhaka on Friday afternoon.
The most successful Bangladeshi batsman in limited overs cricket shocked fans by announcing his retirement on Thursday in the middle of the home series against Afghanistan, with the next World Cup less than four months away.
Nazmul Hassan, the chief of the Bangladesh Cricket Board, said he had been trying to contact Tamim, but to no avail as Tamim’s decision left Bangladesh’s plans for the World Cup in a disarray.
The prime minister later reached out to the skipper through former Bangladesh captain and Narail-2 MP Mashrafe Bin Mortaza.
Tamim left Chattogram for Dhaka after Hasina called him over to her official residence, along with Mashrafe. Nazmul. and Tamim’s wife Ayesha Siddiqa were also present.
Tamim said he had a long discussion about his issues with Hasina who asked him to return to the game.
“I am withdrawing my decision to retire now. Because I can say ‘no’ to all, but not the person who holds the highest position in the country.”
“The prime minister has given me one to one and a half months of leave for my treatment and mental wellbeing.
“I’ll surely do whatever is necessary to play the next matches,” he said, adding that Mashrafe and Nazmul also played a big role in persuading him to change his retirement plans.
But he added that he was yet to decide whether to return as captain or just an opener in the Asia Cup tournament scheduled for August-September.
Nazmul said he was confident that discussions would end the issues. “I got the idea from Tamim’s press conference that he took the decision (to retire) emotionally because we are very close to him. I believed we would be able to settle the issue if we could meet.”
Nazmul also said BCB wants Tamim to return as captain and help Bangladesh continue as per the plan. “It’ll be comfortable for us all. How’ll we play without Tamim as captain?”
Injuries have blighted the back end of Tamim's career, forcing him to opt out of the series against India in December last year. Lingering pain and discomfort in his lower back also saw him miss the one-off Test against Afghanistan last month.
On the eve of the first ODI against the Afghans, Tamim had revealed that he was not at full match fitness and would assess the situation after the game. His comments drew strong criticism from many.
But Nazmul, known for his harsh public comments against the cricketers, even seniors like Tamim, might have gone too far this time. “Is it a match in the neighbourhood?” Nazmul told a newspaper.
For Tamim, it might not be a “match in the neighbourhood”, but in his home city of Chattogram, where he grew up to love cricket. Bangladesh lost the match to the visitors, leaving the hosts in a difficult situation to win the last two matches for a crucial series victory as they are preparing for the next World Cup in India.
His decision to ultimately call time on his international career signals that he has reached a breaking point with his fitness woes, and “undue” pressure from the board.
It could not be confirmed what was discussed after the match, but people close to the cricketer said he was struggling to cope up with a hostile environment created by a section of the board for quite some time.
Desk Report / SH