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Winds of change or BCB hiding behind the scapegoats?

| Updated: November 11, 2021 13:18:58

Photo: ESPNcricinfo Photo: ESPNcricinfo

Rumours are running wild regarding the complete overhaul of the Bangladesh National Cricket team set up after their horrendous performance in the ongoing T20 World Cup.

Media reports suggest that Soumya Sarker and Liton Das will be on the chopping list and fresh faces including U-19 World Cup winners Parvez Hossain Emon and Mahmudul Hasan Joy might get a call up in the national T20 squad.

Khaled Mahmud Sujan has already taken over as the team director and sources claim that Mohammad Salahuddin is all set to become the assistant coach.

Besides, the position of Mahmudullah Riyad is on thin ice as the captain of the shortest format, although he might get a final chance in the upcoming series against Pakistan.

There is no doubt that a change was required for the shorter format. But this brings in a different question. Those who follow Bangladesh cricket regularly cannot but wonder whether these changes are well-thought or just reactionary and eyewash.

The same thing happened after the 2019 ODI World Cup as Steve Rhodes was sacked as the head coach after failure in the tournament. We cannot but wonder what really improved after that.

Tk 900 crore in reserve 

BCB is considered the fifth richest cricket board in the world, just behind the big three - India, Australia and England.

Earlier this year, BCB boss Nazmul Hasan Papon revealed to the media that his board has FDR (Fixed Deposit Receipt) worth Tk 900 crore. But there are serious question marks on how the money is spent. 

In a recent taping of DW Bangla’s popular talk show ‘Khaled Muhiuddin Jante Chay,’  popular sports journalist Utpal Shuvro raised questions in this regard.

“Why is the money not invested in the decentralisation of cricket? We all know about the poor cricketing infrastructures in cities outside Dhaka,” he asked.

“There should be strong regional cricket associations in all the districts of the country and each of them should have a stadium with top-notch facilities and indoors under them.”

“BCB should finance these projects,” the veteran journo added.

In the same taping, another star sports journalist Mostofa Mamun shed light on a darker side that is BCB elections.

“The election is engineered in a way that true cricket organisers never have a fighting chance,” he said.

“ Elected officials including the president have taken things for granted as they know their position is rock solid. Unlike players, they don’t have to perform to stay in their positions,” he remarked.

The board has faced widespread criticism from fans and experts for their failure in improving domestic cricket structure and inability to strengthen the pipeline of players.

Although the board has taken credit behind the U-19 world cup victory, most of the players in that squad were products of BKSP. This has been the case since the inception of Bangladesh cricket. How many players can BCB claim who came from school cricket or talent hunt programs?

The number is embarrassing compared to what BKSP has done, despite not having TK 900 crores in reserve of course.

BCB has also been criticised for poor wickets in domestic leagues which resulted in the national side lacking a quality fast bowler, a leg spinner and a proper power hitter.

Ex BCB president Saber Hossain Chowdhury termed incumbent board president Nazmul Hasan 'incompetent' and blamed him for Bangladesh's awful performance at the T20 World Cup.

Let’s talk about Liton Das

BCB higher-ups have unofficially confirmed to media that he along with Soumya Sarker will be ‘permanently sidelined’ from the T20 setup, but failed to clarify what it exactly means.

In hindsight, the decision seems fair as Liton averages only 19.91 with a strike rate of 122.49. 

But if we dig deeper, we would see the same player averaged above 37 with an awe-inspiring strike rate of 170 just a few years back in the 2018/19 season.

Is the dramatic decline in performance only the player’s fault or the minefields that we make in the name of pitches at Mirpur to get cookie points contributed in the fall?

Before the world cup, Shakib Al Hasan said in an interview, ‘The career of a top-order batsman will be ruined if he plays 5-6 matches in Mirpur.”

In a more recent interview, former captain Masharee Mortaza said in a sarcastic tone, “A bowler or a batsman has no clue on how Mirpur pitch reacts. Only the ball decides after pitching how it would behave.”

Criticisms over the Mirpur field is not something new. The failure to produce sporting wickets at the home of cricket definitely falls on the shoulder of the Bangladesh Cricket Board.

Mashrafe vocal against making cricketers scapegoats 

Blaming BCB for consistent failures in the international arena, former skipper Mashrafe Mortaza feared that the current situation in the Bangladesh cricket team could get worse if cricketers are made scapegoats for the recent ICC T20 World Cup failure.

“My biggest fear is that the cricketers will be made scapegoats and they (the BCB) will show everyone that they have made a lot of decisions which will play a big role in the upcoming World Cup,” Mashrafe wrote on his Facebook account on Friday.

“From previous experience, it can be guessed what will happen next. Maybe someone will be dropped. Riyad (Mahmudullah) may be removed from the captaincy in an attempt to avoid liability.” 

The strategy of putting only cricketers under the bus for failures ages back to infinity.

Way back in 1998, an ESPNcricinfo article titled ‘Bangladesh: BCB finds a scapegoat’ explained how the then captain Akram Khan was booted out of the Bangladesh squad following the side's disastrous performance in the Kuala Lumpur Commonwealth Games.

The weird game of pillow passing to shift the blame on players and coaching staff has already started this time around.

There are reports that Tamim Iqbal was offered the T20 captaincy which he respectfully declined and advised the board to present the opportunity to someone younger in order to look to the future.

A handful of emerging players have been told to prepare for the Pakistani series without even taking into consideration whether it is a smart call to expose the younger talents to the lightning-fast Pakistan bowling line-up so early in their career, without proper grooming in the domestic and A teams.

All this suggests the fact that the so-called wind of an overhaul in the national set-up is just a strategy of BCB to avoid responsibility and distract the fans.

They don’t actually have a plan, do they?

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