Bangladesh Test and T20I captain Shakib Al Hasan is currently lying with his left arm in a sling in Apollo Hospital. By the time he had come back from the Asia Cup in the UAE on Wednesday, unable to even grip a bat after batting and bowling in four games, his left little finger had swollen to twice its size. Shakib picked up the injury in a match against Sri Lanka in January this year, and wanted to have surgery before the Asia Cup. He was however not allowed to do so despite publicly stating his intentions.
On Wednesday he wanted to fly to either New York or Melbourne for surgery as quickly as possible, but such was the severity of his condition that doctors barred him from flying. He had to be admitted to hospital and have a substantial amount of pus removed from his infected finger and cannot depart until the infection has subsided.
The following is a timeline of how things got to this stage:
January 27, 2018, Dhaka: In the tri-series final against Sri Lanka, Shakib's dive to stop a single resulted in him dislocating his left little finger upon impact with the ground. Immediately attended by the team physio, Shakib was rushed to Apollo hospital for further treatment and played no further part in the 79-run defeat.
"The X-ray did not reveal any fracture. However, there is subluxation or a joint sprain at the base of the little finger on his left hand. He has been assessed by a cosmetic surgeon and necessary repairs have been done. The affected finger will have to be immobilised for at least a week before further assessment is made."-- Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) chief physician Debashish Chowdhury. Shakib missed the following Test and T20I series.
March 15, 2018, Colombo: "He is on his way here. He will have to be assessed. We will have a look at him to see if he is fit enough to play. And if he is then obviously with someone of his class and calibre they would make it into the side." -- Acting Bangladesh coach Courtney Walsh. Shakib played the last two matches of the Nidahas Trophy.
August 9, 2018, Dhaka: "I feel the sooner the surgery is done, the better. I think it should be done because I don't want to play without being fully fit. So, if I think along those lines then having surgery before the Asia Cup is normal. Most probably it will take place before the Asia Cup," -- Shakib upon his arrival to Dhaka after a month long tour of the West Indies.
"The operation will most probably take place in Australia under Hoy's guidance. As far as I know, Shakib is going to perform Hajj. He can do it before Hajj but once again nothing is confirmed yet."-- Chowdhury
"Coach Steve Rhodes preferred the surgery before the Asia Cup, but when I met with him today, I said it would be better to do it before the Zimbabwe series. The Asia Cup this time is already tough and it will be a psychological disadvantage if Shakib is not there. I can't imagine playing the Asia Cup without him. We will sit with Shakib and discuss everything soon."-- BCB president Nazmul Hassan
August 15, 2018, Dhaka: "Shakib rang me before leaving [for Hajj] and asked me what he should do. I just told him that if you have pain and feel that it will create problems, then you take the decision about the surgery and I also told him that if you feel it will be possible for you to play the Asia Cup then you do it after the tournament. It will good for the team and it is you who has to take the decision." -- Hassan
September 28, 2018, Dhaka: "When I left my team and returned home because of the pain in my hand, I did not understand that I would face such a bad situation. After coming back home, because of intense pain and my hand swelling alarmingly I had to be admitted to hospital and have a surgery. Around 60-70 milligrams of pus was extracted from my finger. Thanks to your prayers, I was saved from a major misfortune. I will have to have another surgery very quickly.
"I request you to keep praying for me. Your prayers and love will help me recover quickly and represent Bangladesh. Thank you."-- Shakib, in a Facebook post.
It was learnt that Shakib's finger was indeed in a critical stage. Doctors have said that if the pus was not removed in time, it was no longer a question of his career but the continued use of his hand. Even if that is an exaggeration, the bare facts reveal that things had gotten to the stage where an emergency procedure was needed -- even though Shakib was desperate to have surgery abroad as soon as possible, he had to have it in Dhaka.
Now, although the left-armer is out of that kind of danger, he may be out of action for up to three months.
As has happened before, a player's health became secondary to the short-term need of the team, regardless of the long-term dangers to the individual. A board is supposed to be structured so that these eventualities can be dealt with professionally and such desperate decisions as forcing a player to play against his will are avoided. Instead, the president himself publicly urged the player to play, hijacking the function of the medical team.
Given that the infection did not happen overnight but rather built through the Asia Cup, it has to be asked how team physio Thihan Chandramohan had allowed Shakib to keep playing and if the eventual result was this. And, if something untoward does happen -- many will say it has already -- will the president answer for sending Shakib to play in the first place?