Tamim Iqbal has been in the limelight for the past month. He stirred up the cricket fraternity, not for his on-field headlines though. He retired from international cricket, unretired the day after, went on to a one-and-a-half month vacation (which was basically for medical purposes), returned home, and stepped down from ODI captaincy. All these in less than just a month or 29 days to be exact.
He had a meeting with the Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) president Nazmul Hassan Papon and Jalal Yunus, chairman of the cricket operations department of the BCB, on Thursday. Tamim announced he will not be captaining the ODI side anymore and will also not be available for the upcoming Asia Cup later this month.
"I've decided to step down from ODI captaincy with immediate effect," Tamim said after he met with BCB president and CEO on Thursday night.
"I believe injury is an issue. I took an injection on 28 July, but it is like a hit or miss (to play in the Asia Cup). I have told them (the board) about the problem."
Tamim's decision to step down from captaincy didn't come as a surprise like his sudden retirement last month shook the cricket fraternity. He has been under scrutiny for his recurring back problem for a while now. He missed most of the matches building up to the World Cup and didn't look at ease in most matches that he played.
It was bound to happen sooner or later. But did the decision come a bit too late from the veteran batter? Could he have taken the decision a few months earlier? That's up for debate.
"He is unsure in which matches he will be available for selection in the Asia Cup. Tamim doesn't like the idea of it. So, he decided to step down thinking about the team and the country," the BCB president said in his reaction to Tamim's departure as captain sitting right next to him.
Did Tamim really think of 'team first'?
Tamim repeatedly mentioned 'team first' in both of his speeches in front of the media in the past month. Even he mentioned 'team first' a couple of times just on Thursday.
"I have always put the team over everything else. So keeping that in mind, stepping down is the best possible decision, I think," Tamim said.
"Main thing is I'm stepping down from captaincy for the sake of the team. I want to contribute as a cricketer."
"It would be selfish of me to hold on to my position as captain. It would raise questions (if I was still the captain) since I'm not playing (Asia Cup). Those who know me, know that I always keep the team ahead of myself," the outgoing skipper further stated.
It provokes thinking, did Tamim really think of 'team first'? Was it all selfless?
Well, Tamim, as understood, has been suffering from this back problem for nearly a year now. He knew he was not fully fit to play, let alone lead the side in the all-important World Cup in India later this year. No way his retirement and stepping down from captaincy was a sudden decision, and he admitted that too.
He decided to announce his retirement in the middle of a series, hardly 13-14 hours after the team suffered a defeat in the first ODI at home. He needed to step up and lead the team from the front. He didn't. He rather abandoned his team, left the team hotel at night, and retired with teary eyes. Bangladesh eventually lost the series, their first to Afghanistan in ODIs at home.
The BCB president's comment might have triggered his decision behind the sudden retirement and the drama that followed after that. But one would argue, there were other ways to handle this more maturely, especially after playing for your country for more than 17 years.
Tamim wanted to keep pushing till the end and probably wanted to play hiding the pain. But it's the human body after all. There were ongoing rumours and discussions every time he missed a series due to injury - whether he should continue any further and pass the baton to someone else.
But he waited till the last moment. And when he decided, it was probably a bit too late for both parties - for the board to choose a new skipper, and for the captain to plan for the Asia Cup and World Cup.
What next for 'batter' Tamim and who leads the side now?
Tamim's journey as a captain, in his own words, was 'fantastic'. And no one can really deny that. The result speaks for itself. It was under his captaincy that Bangladesh finished third in ICC Cricket World Cup Super League, just behind New Zealand and England. Bangladesh beat South Africa and West Indies away in ODIs including home victories against Sri Lanka and Afghanistan.
Even though his tenure ended in a defeat against Afghanistan and also Bangladesh's first ODI series defeat at home nearly after seven years, it was indeed a successful one with a winning percentage of 56.75.
Now that Tamim has stepped down from captaincy, his place in the team as a batter cannot be guaranteed, especially with the recurring injury concerns. He knows he has to fight for his place even though the backups haven't done that well either.
Tamim is expected to be available for the home series against New Zealand right after the Asia Cup. He has decided to take a precautionary extended break to regain his full fitness, said Jalal Yunus on Thursday.
"I want to play the New Zealand series in the best possible shape. We could have rushed it for the Asia Cup but we are opting against it. I am very hopeful that I will be available for the World Cup," Tamim said.
Tamim will now rest till 11 August and continue his rehab after that. According to Jalal Yunus, he can only return to the nets by 26 August. How he fares from there, remains to be seen.
Tamim missing out on the Asia Cup opens up further questions regarding the opening spot and the captaincy role. Litton Das is expected to lead the side in the Asia Cup though the BCB president refused to make any official comment before discussing it with other board members. Talk about maintaining protocols!
Shakib Al Hasan is also another candidate, probably the strongest one right now. But it will take some proper convincing for Shakib to take up the role in such a crucial stage. While there are suggestions that Shakib refused to take over the captaincy, the BCB president said he is not aware of Shakib saying 'no' to captaincy at any stage.
The 'Tamim saga' is far from over. Tamim was under immense pressure when he retired in the first place. It's safe to say that he will be under 10x more pressure when and if he returns to the field in the New Zealand series in September. The team, the fans, and of course, the media will keep close eyes on his rehab and everything. If Tamim can overcome all these obstacles and do the talking with his bat, there will be nothing better for the Tigers going into the all-important World Cup. But if he fails, well, we've seen that before too.