Of friendship, bitterness and uneasy circumstances
Both Tamim Iqbal and Shakib Al Hasan made their debuts in close proximity. Tamim was the first to enter the ODI format, Shakib coming in just a few months later. Shakib had debuted first in Tests, ahead of Tamim, who debuted in 2008. In friendship, the two of the big and young characters of Bangladesh cricket took the team to new heights. In their split, it is as if a broken mirror now shows the muddy atmosphere of the cricket fraternity.
Tamim and Shakib were the aggressors, the assets of our cricket that bled new life into the country's cricket. Two youngsters who knew how to stare down the opposition came together and combined to deliver and take Bangladesh to new heights.
They were known as best friends, and as individuals they publicly fawned over their bond as well. They even banked on each other's merits, with many a partnership where the duo showed how they thrived alongside each other.
All good things come to an end though. Even in the gentleman's game, things that happen inside the dressing room and in personal conversations can create a bitter rift. A broken relationship like theirs is not the first in world cricket, nor will it be the last. It has reportedly been a few years since they talked as 'just friends.'
While their uneasy relationship may have been an open secret to many, the news had stayed out of the public's ears until this year, when BCB president Nazmul Hassan, in an explosive interview, exposed the strained relationship, bringing the issue to the forefront of Bangladesh cricket.
"This is not a healthy dressing room, that I can guarantee you. This thing [rift between Shakib and Tamim], it's not that I have not tried to sort it out. I spoke with both of them but I felt that it would not be easy to settle the issue at the moment," the BCB president had said.
Shakib, amongst other qualities, is recognised as someone who can compartmentalise his emotions and focus on bringing out the best of his game, no matter the mental strain he is facing off the field. For Tamim, the scenario became increasingly difficult as the ODI captain as talks of a divided dressing room continued.
The team was left to cater to both big-hearted characters, but it brought out a pressure Tamim may not have felt before. Amidst the lack of runs and recurring injury issues that Tamim faced recently, the very public knowledge of his strained relationship with his friend became an issue.
There were whispers of a change of ODI captaincy and zero transparency, brought along by the remarks from the board president. It in the end effected Tamim and as far as BCB's ways of dealing with senior stars go, it was another ugly mark on the country's cricket.
As administrators, they needed to solve their issues internally and gather both their forces for the upcoming World Cup in India. They failed significantly in that regard.