County Cricket provides an amazing opportunity for any cricketer to polish their skills. Testing conditions and variable wickets test a cricketer’s skill and character in each and every game. County Cricket makes a good cricketer better and a better cricketer into the world’s best.
The legendary cricketers in the history of cricket have played in County Cricket with a great distinction. Sir Gary Sobers, Imran Khan, Viv Richards, Ian Botham, Allan Donald, Wasim Akram, Sourav Ganguly, etc are such names that have played County Cricket and mind you, they excelled tremendously which helped them to shine for their respective teams as well.
Since its entry in Test cricket, Bangladesh, over the years, have been a side who are improving slowly and steadily. Bangladesh have been gifting some exciting talents since the year 2003 and over the years, they have earned applauds from the cricket pundits all over the world.
Men like Habibul Bashar and Mohammad Rafique were the past masters to make a strong foundation for talents like Mashrafe Mortaza, Shakib Al Hasan, Tamim Iqbal, Mushfiqur Rahim, Mahmudullah Riyad, and co. These guys are now seasonal cricketers and are now ranked among the top performers in world cricket.
County cricket has been hiring cricketers from all over the globe but they never approached any Bangladeshi cricketers. But finally, in 2009 a County team named Worcestershire have hired one of the Tigers. He was the Wisden cricketer of the year 2009 and is one day cricket’s number one all-rounder and ranks among the top ten Test bowlers of world cricket. He is Shakib Al Hasan.
Worcestershire have won five County Championships from 1964 to 1989. But the year 2009 had been the darkest year for them. They did not manage to win a single match and were thus dropped to Division 2. They needed someone charismatic to change their fortune. Men like Imran Khan, Ian Botham and Kapil Dev had played for Worcestershire with distinction and maintained Worcestershire hay days.
Worcestershire knocked at Shakib’s door. Shakib opened the door for Worcestershire and hugged their offer with his traditional cute smile. And thus, Shakib’s County journey started for the season 2010. Shakib and his fellow teammates did change the fortunes of Worcestershire.
Shakib started his County journey with a master class 90-run against Derbyshire in the first match. In the limited-overs format of 40 overs Shakib blazed in the first match with a dashing 72 against the Unicorns. But his bat didn’t smile since then. In total eight first-class matches Shakib had scored 398 runs and in the limited-overs format, Shakib had scored 187 runs in just five matches.
But with the ball Shakib was terrific. His teasing, left-arm orthodox magical spin outfoxed the opponent batsmen. He started with 3 for 94 against Derbyshire in the first match. Against Glostershire Shakib took eight wickets for the match including a five-wicket haul (5 for 23). His match figure of 8 for102 is the best bowling for Worcestershire for the season. In the match against Middlesex Shakib was at his menacing best. He finished with figures of 7 for 23 which is the best individual bowling figure for Worcestershire in the season. Again, in the limited over format, his bowling figures of 4 for 32 against Glamourgoan is the best limited over bowling figure for Worcestershire for the season.
In eight first-class matches, Shakib has taken 35 wickets and in the limited-overs format, he has taken nine wickets from five matches. Among the top five bowling figures for Worcestershire in this season, Shakib’s bowling figures rank respectively as first, fourth, and fifth. In the limited-overs format, his nine wickets at an average of 17.77 are the second-best for Worcestershire. The bowler who topped for Worcestershire, Jack sentry, has played twelve matches whereas Shakib just played five matches.
In the last match against Surrey, Worcestershire won by six wickets though Shakib was not impressive. But the drawn match between Glamorgan and Derbyshire ensured Worcestershire the Division one for which they were longing for.
County Cricket certainly has made Shakib a better cricketer. Playing on different conditions and facing the toughest challenges have helped Shakib to polish his skills further. Today, he is regarded as one of the best allrounders in the world, one can’t deny, almost 10 years ago, his brief stint with Worcestershire played a key role in reaching the top.