He is the first international superstar of Bangladesh cricket, and his current status as the top-ranked all-rounder in all three formats of the game means that he has not only lived up to that billing, but has outstripped expectations. Shakib Al Hasan has been the flag bearer for the Tigers all across the world in his role of a sought-after commodity in T20 franchise leagues. The 30-year-old has set a new high-water mark that youngsters can aspire to, knowing that they can achieve anything through talent and hard work. In an exclusive interview with The Daily Star's Mazhar Uddin before departing for a stint in the Caribbean Premier League, the star all-rounder opens up about where he wants to see himself after finishing his career, how he has matured after facing a six-month ban in 2014 and a few other topics. The following are some excerpts of the conversation:
The Daily Star (TDS): How does it feel like being a Bangladeshi international cricketer?
Shakib Al Hasan (SAH): It feels good and wherever I went to play ultimately I represent Bangladesh so from that point of view it's something to be proud of. When I have the experience of playing with new players it gives me the opportunity to share the experience in the dressing room, which helps the others. We have played a lot of cricket but still experience is something we all need and if we can share these things it's better for cricket ultimately... domestic cricket as well. And personally it's a big experience and achievement for me because I have been able to improve my game by playing all over the world and one thing is I get to represent Bangladesh which is also a big thing.
TDS: What are the changes between the Shakib playing age-level cricket and the Shakib of today?
SAH: I don't think there was any change, either technically or mentally. The mindset is the same as it was before but yes, whenever I face an obstacle it's something you now know how to overcome. Apart from that I don't think there is any change.
TDS: You seem like an unflappable character. Does anything cause you to panic?
SAH: Nowadays, after playing for so many years I don't get into any panicked situation; instead, I know how to handle those situations and remain calm. It has actually come only because of playing cricket for so long time.
TDS: What are the responsibilities of being Shakib both on and off the field?
SAH: Obviously everyone has responsibilities and I think now there is more responsibility off the field than on it. You have to motivate the young players and help them learn how to handle difficult situations so that they have an idea of what they are going to face and prepare accordingly. On the field my main responsibility is to perform.
TDS: Do you think your career stats could have been even better than they are now?
SAH: Obviously it would have been good if they were better than now. Maybe if we started facing the kind of competition we face now a bit earlier the performance graph would have been better. But I am happy with whatever I have achieved so far in my career and my aim is to achieve more than what I have achieved till now.
TDS: What do you want to accomplish by the time your career ends?
SAH: Actually, I never set such targets. Nobody knows what will happen tomorrow but as long I am playing my aim is to improve each day and perform better.
TDS: What are the things a young cricketer should follow to become successful in international cricket?
SAH: Actually it's difficult to say as the definition of success depends on each individual, so it's the duty of each individual to find out how to achieve that success. It's difficult to know exactly where he wants that success and those who choose that correctly become successful in life.
TDS: Where do you want to see Bangladesh cricket?
SAH: Obviously there is still a lot of work to be done. The success is becoming more visible but I think this should continue. We just can't stop here; we will have to keep improving.
TDS: How much have you changed as a person after being banned for six months in 2014?
SAH: I am a bit quieter than before (smiles). I don't see any other changes than that. Maybe from outside it might look different but I don't think there is any change.
TDS: Is Shakib more matured?
SAH: Obviously, maturity comes with age as I am married for five years now and also have a kid. So you need some experience to maintain a family and I am 30 years old now. Overall, I am a more complete man now.