Tamim Iqbal, who holds the record for the highest number of runs scored by a Bangladeshi player in One-Day International (ODI) cricket, surprised everyone when he declared his retirement from international cricket on July 6. His decision was short-lived, however, as he reversed it just a day later.
The opener's retirement announcement was a shocking one, considering it came amidst Bangladesh's ODI series against Afghanistan. Tamim captained his side in the opening match, which Bangladesh lost by 17 runs to the visitors. The day after the match, Tamim called an unexpected press conference to announce that he had made the choice to retire from all forms of international cricket.
Tamim Iqbal's emotional message after making the decision to retire from international cricket. An icon for Bangladesh 👏 🏏 pic.twitter.com/syuNwPuCMy
— Sky Sports Cricket (@SkyCricket) July 7, 2023
Why Did Tamim Iqbal Announce His Retirement?
Tamim's retirement announcement raised eyebrows as it came halfway through an ongoing ODI series and only three months before the World Cup. The 34-year-old has long cherished the dream of captaining his side to World Cup glory. What circumstances prompted him to abandon his ambition?
Tamim has been enduring a prolonged period of poor performance, with the added burden of recurring injuries that caused him to miss out on several recent matches. Only last month, he was unable to participate in the series against Afghanistan, and since then, he dedicated himself to rigorous training to restore his fitness before the crucial ODI series. Unfortunately, it seems that his eagerness to make a comeback may have been counterproductive.
Speculation emerged regarding his availability for the ODI series as well. On Monday, he trained alongside the team, merely two days ahead of the first ODI. He raised eyebrows, nevertheless, by missing the final practice session on Tuesday, despite making an appearance at the pre-match press conference.
This is the point where the narrative took a twist. Tamim disclosed that he would be playing in the first ODI, despite not being fully fit. This decision caused a massive uproar in the Bangladeshi cricket community.
@BCBtigers skipper @TamimOfficial28 said he was still not "100%" fit to play but nonetheless planned to take the field when the one-day series against @ACBofficials begins Wednesday.https://t.co/w7yftipFXn— Dhaka Tribune Sports (@Sport_DT) July 4, 2023
The president of the Bangladesh Cricket Board, Nazmul Hasan Papon, released a statement firmly stating that he would not permit any individual to evaluate his fitness during an international match. Rumour has it that Tamim's impromptu retirement announcement was a direct result of this statement.
🚨 BCB President Nazmul Hossain Papon & head coach are absolutely furious with Tamim Iqbal's decision.— Saif Ahmed 🇧🇩 (@saifahmed75) July 5, 2023
💣 BCB President exploded a bomb before match day in an interview on Protidiner Bangladesh.
🎙️ | BCB President: "I am absolutely furious with Tamim's statement. Hathuru… pic.twitter.com/RRpLX6DThY
Tamim, however, denied that claim in public.
“It's not like that (if Nazmul Hasan's statement triggered him into retiring) because it has happened in the past also… I spoke with my family even before that, at least three to four days back and they were sensing that I am not in a good space. Please don't ask me why.”
Why Did Tamim Iqbal Reverse His Retirement Decision?
Just one day after his heartfelt retirement announcement, Tamim Iqbal made a U-turn and rescinded his decision to retire from international cricket. He revealed that he had been urged to continue playing by the country's Prime Minister, Sheikh Hasina.
Congratulations to Tamim Iqbal and to Bangladesh fans 🇧🇩♥️— Farid Khan (@_FaridKhan) July 7, 2023
Former captain Mashrafe Mortaza played his part and PM Sheikh Hasina convinced him. He'll represent Bangladesh in the Asia Cup and World Cup 👏 pic.twitter.com/wfUqZYn2Yi
Cricketer-turned-politician Mashrafe bin Mortaza was crucial in resolving the Tamim issue. He convinced the Bangladeshi Prime Minister to intervene and persuade Tamim Iqbal to overturn his decision, a move that was expected from the board president Nazmul Hasan Papon. It is common knowledge among those well-versed in the affairs of Bangladesh cricket that Nazmul has had longstanding differences with Mashrafe ever since the latter relinquished his captaincy.
Furthermore, Mashrafe succeeded in bridging the gap between Bangladesh's head coach, Chandika Hathurusingha, and Tamim. It should be highlighted that Nazmul's public outburst towards Tamim regarding the fitness matter took place after Hathurusingha expressed his dissatisfaction to Nazmul directly.