Firstly it was deemed impossible. At least the initial reaction of the people was that. Then a flurry of information on deleting WhatsApp messages between Shakib and a bookie and the breach of code of conduct surfaced. It was obvious that there would be no escape this time for Shakib Al Hasan.
For a cricketer, who shouldered the responsibility of a whole team for over a decade, it was very irresponsible. As one of the best in his sport, and as an iconic figure at home and abroad, he should not have been that casual with the things that he said he was.
Shakib got penalised for breaching the code of conduct of International Cricket Council (ICC) by withholding information about approaches from a bookie. It was more surprising that he allowed the bookie Deepak Agarwal to approach him thrice in four months!
ICC's Anti-Corruption Unit (ACU) later interrogated Shakib twice over the incident this year in January and August. They had information about five international skippers breaching the code of conduct as early as 2018. Shakib was one of the five captains.
Here arises the question– how could one of the sharpest minds of world cricket, and one of the most successful persons of his generation make a mistake of this magnitude? Was it a result of only being too casual with the incident? Or the deleting of WhatsApp chat messages indicates something deeper?
Well, such surmising can only diverge this already complicated situation further. But sports aficionados all over the world will sort equations in their heads and will draw their own conclusions.
However, life without Shakib now is a reality for the Bangladesh National Cricket Team, for at least a year. Things will be different. The delight and luxury of having the world's best all-rounder will be gone. The team cannot boast a balance of having a great bowler and a great batsman in a single player.
Shakib's absence on the field undoubtedly will have huge repercussions. Earlier, the ace all-rounder was banned for six months by Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) in 2014 on disciplinary grounds, which was later shortened to three months. Bangladesh lost an away series against the West Indies in that period. The series comprised of Test, One Day International (ODI), and T20 matches. It was a clean sweep for the hosts in all the formats.
This time, during Shakib's suspension period, Bangladesh is set to play 36 matches without Shakib in all three formats. The opponents include the likes of India, New Zealand, Australia, Pakistan, Ireland, and Zimbabwe. Surely the Tigers will miss the champion performer against these formidable rivals.
Though, veterans like Mushfiqur Rahim and Mahmudullah expects the young guns to fill in for Shakib. But one would feel, it would be too much to ask from the inexperienced bunch to take place of such a great player. In Test matches Bangladesh have Taijul Islam, Mehedy Miraz and Naeem Hasan to handle the spin attack. In the shorter formats, the responsibility will be shared also by Aminul Islam and Arafat Sunny.
With the bat, Shakib's absence would become heavy on the three stalwarts Mushfiqur Rahim, Tamim Iqbal and Mahmudullah. Tamim is absent from the India series due to family issues. But he will be back for the rest of the schedules. Shakib Al Hasan always provided the support in the Bangladeshi middle order and in the top order in shorter formats. That responsibility now has to be shared by the three.
The Tiger's biggest concern would be the loss of their captain. Mashrafe is still the talisman in ODIs but Shakib has led the team in his absence very well. Mashrafe does not captain the sides in T20s and in Tests anymore. Shakib's leadership in these two formats pulled Bangladesh out of numerous tricky situations on the field. His fast thinking in 20 over games and his aggressive intent in the Test matches have benefited Bangladesh immensely.
Moreover, with his pre-match planning and ability to use the resources to the fullest, Shakib's captaincy surely has given Bangladesh an edge at home. Who can forget historic series wins against mighty Australia and England, where Shakib demanded to play on a turning track. And his decision yielded a rich dividend.
Bangladesh will seriously lag behind in this part. For the time being, the captaincy has been handed over to Mominul Haq in Tests and Mahmudullah in T20s. Mominul Haq is a first-timer and it will be interesting to see whether his leadership flourishes with this opportunity or crumbles under the pressure. Also, it remains to be seen for how long BCB entrusts the diminutive left-hander with the duty.
Then there are the franchise teams like Dhaka Dynamites, Barbados Tridents, Sunrisers Hyderabad. Wherever Shakib played he became a mainstay of the squad. His presence at times was enough to boost the morale of the team members.
Shakib's absence will probably hurt the fans the most. Cricket fans worldwide have a very interesting relationship with the best all-rounder in the world. Most of the time they revere Shakib but instances of making him a scapegoat is not rare either. Shakib takes both the adulation and the heat from his followers with equal ease.
Life without Shakib will be equally difficult for the teams and the fans alike. But there lies the challenge. A professional player like Shakib would expect the teams to do better and adapt quickly without him. He will be back within a year but till then it is time to move on for his peers, the teams he played for and the fans.
One cannot fathom what Shakib Al Hasan is planning for the next 12 months but the wait for the return of one of the game's true global characters has started for sure.