Bangladeshi cricket sensation Shakib Al Hasan has officially entered politics, seeking a nomination from the ruling Bangladesh Awami League for the upcoming general election scheduled for January 7.
The announcement was made by Awami League joint secretary general Bahauddin Nasim, who informed AFP that Shakib obtained nomination forms on Saturday to contest in three constituencies.
However, Shakib's candidature is contingent on confirmation by a ruling party parliamentary board, presided over by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. The cricket star is eyeing a seat in either his southwestern home district of Magura or the capital, Dhaka, according to Nasim.
"He is a celebrity and has great popularity among the country's youth," Nasim said, welcoming the cricket all-rounder.
Sheikh Hasina has led the South Asian country of around 170 million for 15 years, and has been accused of ruling with an iron fist.
The upcoming polls are poised to be boycotted by major opposition parties, casting Hasina as the likely frontrunner for a fourth term in power. While she has been credited with steering the country through impressive economic growth, concerns have been raised by Western nations over democratic regression, and accusations of vote-rigging by the opposition in the past two elections.
In the context of South Asia, the transition from cricket to politics is not unprecedented, given the sport's immense popularity in the region. However, doing so during one's sporting career is rare.
Notably, former Bangladesh cricket captain Mashrafe Mortaza ventured into politics in 2018, securing a seat as a lawmaker from the ruling party the same year. Mortaza led Bangladesh in the 2019 World Cup before retiring from cricket to focus on his political career.
Shakib Al Hasan, who serves as Bangladesh's regular captain across all three formats, is presently sidelined due to a finger injury, leading him to withdraw from the upcoming Test series against New Zealand. The injury occurred during a World Cup match against Sri Lanka, where Shakib garnered attention for a unique appeal against Angelo Mathews, resulting in international cricket's first-ever timed out.