More than eight private security personnel surrounded the elevator area leading to the A.S Mahmud Seminar Hall in The Daily Star Centre as Shakib Al Hasan walked out from the elevator and went towards the packed hall to renew his brand ambassador contract with Lifebuoy yesterday.
Although he has been banned from cricket for two years, the second of which is a suspended sentence, for not reporting corrupt approaches from a bookmaker to the ICC’s anti-corruption unit, Shakib’s aura has not diminished even a little.
Bangladesh cricket’s apex superstar has not been at the forefront since his ban in October last year and has generally avoided speaking to the media, especially about cricket, during promotional events that he has attended.
Yesterday was perhaps the first time since the ban that the 32-year-old came out of his shell after an video was played ahead of the event showing a determined Shakib working out in the gym and gearing up for his comeback. In the video, Shakib also pledged his continuing support for the national team despite currently being out of cricket.
Followed by the official introduction speeches it was time for the journalists to ask questions and despite instructions from organisers to restrict queries to Shakib’s involvement with the brand, that was not how it went.
Shakib replied in typical fashion when asked whether he was gearing up for a comeback, as shown in the video. “For that you have to wait until I return to the field. If I say I have done a lot of things for the comeback and it’s not proven, then it won’t be good and acceptable. Wait for it… if everything goes well you will get the answer,” Shakib said with a smile.
When questions arose about how much he is missing cricket or how he is spending his days away from the game, Shakib chose to duck that ling of attack.
“I don’t want to share these things as when the right time comes when I need to share those, I will. But before that I am not comfortable to share such things,” the champion all-rounder said.
But when you have Shakib in front of the media, questions about the Tigers’ upcoming assignment are inevitable. Yesterday, the former Test and T20I skipper could not resist gibing his take on Bangladesh’s upcoming T20I tour of Pakistan.
“I would hope everyone will go there [Pakistan] safely and return home after playing well. Obviously, Bangladesh can get success there as Pakistan have recently lost a three-match [T20I] series against Sri Lanka at home 3-0. So, I think we should also do well,” Shakib said.
According to Shakib, he is still in regular touch with Tigers’ head coach Russell Domingo, as well as with board members. Meanwhile, millions of his fans would be eagerly waiting to see him not just in promotional events but also to witness his heroics on the field.