Bangladesh cricket was rocked to its foundations last evening when the International Cricket Council (ICC) informed that it had banned Shakib Al Hasan from all forms of cricket for two years for not informing the ICC’s anti-corruption unit (ACU) of three separate ‘approaches or invitations’ he received to engage in ‘corrupt conduct’ by a bookmaker seeking match information.
According to the ICC press release, the second year of that ban will be suspended if Shakib does not commit further offences under the ACU code or the anti-corruption code of any national federation and if he participates promptly and fully in any anti-corruption education and/or rehabilitation programmes specified by the ICC. In that case, Shakib will be able to return to international cricket on October 29, 2020.
With the ban to take immediate effect, Shakib, Bangladesh’s Test and T20I captain till yesterday, will not be part of the squad that departs for India today to play three T20Is and two Tests.
Shakib had initially been contacted by a bookmaker named Deepak Aggarwal during the Bangladesh Premier League in November 2017, according to the full reasoned decision on the ICC’s website. The first two approaches were made during the ODI tri-series at home involving Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe in January 2018. The third was made during the Indian Premier League later the same year, in relations to the April 26 match between Sunrisers Hyderabad and Kings XI Punjab.
A visibly downcast Shakib visited the Bangladesh Cricket Board’s (BCB’s) headquarters at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium in Mirpur last night and held a press conference alongside BCB President Nazmul Hassan regarding the ban.
“I am obviously extremely sad to have been banned from the game I love, but I completely accept my sanction for not reporting the approaches,” Shakib told the media. “The ICC ACU is reliant on players to play a central part in the fight against corruption and I didn’t do my duty in this instance.
“I will cooperate with ICC and be involved in the Anti-Corruption Unit’s (ACU) education session so that promising young cricketers do not commit the same mistake in the future. The way that [I have been supported by] cricket fans, the people of Bangladesh, the BCB and the government during my good and bad times, I wish that your support will always remain. If I have that support, I will be able to return to cricket very soon and be able to fulfill my duties stronger than before and with more responsibility.”
In the reasoned decision, it was revealed that during a period of several months of communication with Aggarwal, the bookie asked Shakib for inside information on the tri-series and team lineup information ahead of the IPL match. Aggarwal had also talked about bitcoin payments and wanted to know about Shakib’s ‘dollar accounts’. During this conversation Shakib, who had reported an offer of money to underperform during an ODI series against Ireland at home in 2008, had told Aggarwal that he wanted to meet him first.
Shakib did not report any of these instances, and when contacted by the ICC’s ACU on January 23 and August 27 this year, said that he thought that Aggarwal was a bit ‘dodgy’ and that, ‘following their conversations, he had the feeling that Aggarwal was a bookie’.
Shakib’s prompt and voluntary admission of his breaches, cooperation with the anti-corruption unit (ACU), previous good disciplinary record and the fact that his offences did not affect the outcome of the relevant matches were seen as mitigating factors. On the other hand, aggravating factors in the severity of his sanction was that, despite being an experienced player and a captain, he failed to report the approaches despite Aggarwal’s intentions being clear over several conversations.
“While the BCB is shocked and extremely disappointed that an experienced player like Shakib had failed to report a corrupt approach on three occasions, at the same time we are pleased that he has cooperated fully with the ICC ACU and has pledged his commitment to its education programme,” BCB President Hassan said after Shakib finished speaking. “We hope he will come back as a better and wiser cricketer and serve Bangladesh for many more years when his sanction will be over. During the suspension the BCB will continue to support his efforts at returning to cricket.”
Shakib had previously been banned by the BCB for six months in 2014 for disciplinary reasons.
Shakib, who made his international debut in August 2006, is widely acknowledged to be the best cricketer Bangladesh has produced and played a starring role in the 2019 World Cup. He has also been at the top of the all-rounders’ ranking regularly since 2010.
More recently, he played a leading role in a three-day players’ strike which ended with the BCB agreeing to nine of the players’ 11-point demand.