Peeling back the layers in Tamim Iqbal retirement saga

Bangladesh PM (middle) had to intervene and ask Tamim Iqbal to reverse his retirement
Bangladesh PM (middle) had to intervene and ask Tamim Iqbal to reverse his retirement ©BCB

Cricket is not beyond politics. The retirement-to-unretirement saga of Tamim Iqbal once again brought it to light more than anything else.

Tamim's decision to retire suddenly from international cricket came as a huge shock, and what followed the announcement was nothing less than a thrilling political drama that ended with the intervention of Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. Following a meeting with her, Tamim decided to reverse his retirement decision in a statement delivered outside the PM residence in the middle of a huge media frenzy.

It is alleged that BCB president Nazmul Hasan's statement that he won't tolerate someone assessing his fitness in an international game propelled Tamim into taking such a decision. The left-handed batsman, though, told a Bengali Daily that Nazmul's statement was not the only reason he decided to call it quits.

"I could have played another World Cup but what I have done so far in my career and the way I see my life, there is no point in making such a big sacrifice for another World Cup. It is true that I am feeling bad and that is obvious because I've been playing cricket for a long time. Runs, matches, team's win, pain of losing, teammates and fans... this beautiful journey is coming to an end abruptly so certainly I am feeling bad but more than that I am relieved," Tamim was quoted in Kalerkantho hours after he officially announced about his retirement where he refrained from taking any questions.

"It's not like that (if Nazmul Hasan's statement triggered him into retiring) because it has happened in the past also... I spoke with my family even before that, at least three to four days back and they were sensing that I am not in a good space. Please don't ask me why," he said before opening up a bit to express his disappointment.

"Say I have given you something and later thinking of how to take it away from you and give it someone else. Furthermore, you understood the whole affair in that case, so will you keep it and will that be respectable?" Tamim said without spelling the word "captaincy" but guessing it wasn't rocket science.

Tamim's admission clearly suggests that everything was not well inside the national dressing room and he was feeling cornered if not anything else.

In the case that Tamim wasn't going to lead Bangladesh in the World Cup, BCB were almost certain to appoint a new leader in Shakib al Hasan. That Shakib and Tamim don't get along too well these days is another matter but Shakib came in with the experience to do the job.

Nazmul, being a seasoned politician, initially seemed furious with the entire development and even went to the extent of questioning "why Tamim is crying because no one asked him to retire", but following the emergency meeting with some of his board members he decided to handle the situation differently, stating that he feels Tamim would reconsider his decision and make a comeback.

All said and done, the situation looked a bit beyond Nazmul -- which doesn't happen too often in Bangladesh cricket. Nazmul, for starters, was unable to contact Tamim, a player still in an active contract with the board. Furthermore, Tamim did not submit his resignation letter officially on the day he let the world know that he does not intend to continue his international career anymore.

Nazmul confirmed to media on Friday that Tamim submitted the letter officially to the board only today (June 7) before deciding to withdraw it following the request of the head of the government.

In the entire episode, the winner is not Tamim alone but also cricketer-turned-politician Mashrafe bin Mortaza, who played a crucial part in fixing the whole Tamim issue which was expected to be sorted out by the board president himself. For context, Nazmul's differences with Mashrafe since he decided to quit captaincy is common knowledge to people with any insight into affairs of Bangladesh cricket.

Mashrafe also managed to bring Bangladesh head coach Chandika Hathurusingha onboard keeping aside their differences from the past. It must be noted that Nazmul's public outburst against Tamim over the fitness issue came after Hathurusingha reportedly conveyed his displeasure to him personally.

For the time being, Tamim will be returning to cricket but not without politics playing a major role in it.



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