"If I want to play that amount of cricket and play it well, I think this break is essential for me." © Getty Images

“If I want to play that amount of cricket and play it well, I think this break is essential for me.” © Getty Images

Shakib Al Hasan, whose request for a break from Test cricket was given the nod by the Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB), has defended his decision saying that he needed the time off to extend his career.

Shakib, 30, will sit out two Test matches during the upcoming tour of South Africa, but will be available for the three One-Day Internationals and two Twenty20 Internationals that follow in Bangladesh’s first tour of South Africa since 2008.

“I get surprised when people ask me why I don’t take a break from one-day or Twenty20 internationals or from the foreign T20 league. When I play foreign T20 leagues I feel hardly any pressure. For me they are a kind of holiday. Of course, they give me some experience. Financial side is also important,” he said on Tuesday (September 12).

“But in Test match, I have to bat and bowl and contribute in all four innings. The team also expects me to do that. It’s not good if I cannot give my 100%.”

Shakib is a regular at franchise-based T20 tournaments around the world, and earned US$ 712,000 from four T20 competitions in 2016, according to Bangladesh’s Daily Star. He has played every Test for Bangladesh since missing two games against Windies in 2014 because of a suspension. His request for the Test break came amid concerns over player fatigue, as well as criticism that players are prioritising earnings over representing their countries.

Shakib said the break from Test cricket would help him “refresh” himself and prolong his career. “The biggest reason is I think I have still plenty of cricket left,” said Shakib. “If I want to play that amount of cricket and play it well, I think this break is essential for me.

“I can play now if I wish. But I have to decide whether I want play five to six more years or just one to two years. I personally feel if I continue this way, I would not be able to play more than one or two years.

“I don’t want to play just for the sake of playing. That is why, I think if I get this break, I can refresh myself, more mentally than physically, and play five or six years without any tension.”

He thanked the BCB profusely for granting his wish. “If I go to South Africa after two Test matches, I will get a break of about a month. I haven’t got this kind of a break in the last three or four years,” he said.

Shakib starred in Bangladesh’s maiden Test win over Australia last month, claiming ten wickets in the match and scoring 84 in the first innings.