Who will cure cricket disease?
Khondkar Saleque Sufi
Cricket is the symbol of Bangladesh now. You will not find anyone across political, ethnic, religion, age group and sex divide who are not solidly behind team Tigers. It is through glorious contributions of icon cricket players, some extremely talented individuals like Mashrafe, Mushfiqur, Shakib, Tamim and Mahmudullah that has encouraged brilliant younger generation like Taskin, Mustafiz, Miraz and Mosaddek and the likes are showing bright future of Bangladesh cricket.
But nothing is going right inside cricket administration. Riding on the success of cricketers a vested quarter is eating the fruits of the tree and gathering those which are dropping off as well.
We heard gossips from a long time. But it is crystal clear now a vested quarter is enjoying all fruits of the recent successes of cricket. But cricketers are being maltreated. The controversial manner of retirement of charismatic Bangladesh Cricket captain Mashrafe Bin Mortaza has started exposing rats from the cage.
Mashrafe, ignoring his bruised, battered and several times operated knees leading Bangladesh from the front has elevated Bangladesh to a position of pride. He performs as a leading bowler, he leads his team diligently squeezing out the best from all mates and acts as friend, philosopher and guide.
It is from his contribution Bangladesh had qualified for playing in the Champions trophy. Bangladesh elevated from 9th to 7th in ICC ODI ranking and is not lagging much behind Sri Lanka and England.
True Bangladesh could not translate its success of ODI into T20 and is languishing at the bottom. Nevertheless great Mashrafe had a vision for Bangladesh in T20. But that has been put paid from a flawed action plan engineered by Head Coach Chandika Hathurusingha, endorsed by team Manager Khaled Mahmod and approved by BCB President.
Mashrafe was forced into ungainly retirement from T20I when the team just started climbing the ladder in T20 cricket. In no cricket playing country of the world head coach and team manager are essential part of team selection committee. In BCB these two controversial persons enjoy supreme authority. They are like Zamindaris hiring and firing any player any time. These two highly paid individuals enjoy complete confidence of BCB President.
Other persons and process in team selection and cricket operation act as puppet or rubber stamp. For the wrong doings of these syndicate, cricket careers of few top players like Abdur Razzak , Shahriar Nafees, Anamul Haq , Al Amin Hossain , Jubair Hossain, Naeem Islam , Nasir Hossain , Rubel Hossain , Mominul Haq has become uncertain.
It is true new talents are coming but a well-crafted process for developing them is not being followed. It has been gathered from reliable sources that Hathurusingha is not treating the senior players at all well. Players like Tamim, Shakib, Mushfiqur, and Mashrafe for playing quality alone are way above him. They have made tremendous contributions as a player for bringing Bangladesh cricket to this level. He has nothing to teach them. Being paid employer he must not behave like a master.
It is now becoming apparent that it was him who wanted, three including Mashrafe, to leave playing T20. He wanted Mashrafe to leave blaming him mainly for failures in winning eight T20 matches in a row. He discussed this with team manager who endorsed it. Manager using his good links with BCB President got him convinced.
Director (Cricket Operation) and rubber stamp selection committee did not have personality to disagree. An air of suffocation was created for Mashrafe. He thought it wise to announce retirement avoiding possible humiliation of getting axed. A cherished dream of charismatic leader got nipped in the bud. Mashrafe is a straight forward very honest person. He knows his battery limits. But at the same time he cannot let others encroach his own domain.
We are very alarmed. If the present disease is not cured Tamim, Shakib, Mushfiqur, Mahmudullah none will be comfortable. Mashrafe with sore heart may no longer enjoy sharing dressing room with persons who conspired against him. Mushfiqur and Tamim will also not feel comfortable. Mahmudullah is already in the firing line. Exceptionally talented Mominul may be lost.
Bangladesh will soon embark on a very important cricket mission. Playing in England is so different in early winter. Why the highly paid coaching staff was given leave? Why they could not be staying with the team for mentoring them?
Bangladesh earned qualification for playing in the Champions trophy for brilliant inspiring leadership of Mashrafe in ODI. Now he will go to England knowing that BCB devalues his contribution. Is there anyone to look into the affairs of irregularities and chaos in cricket management? We know it is too much of an asking. Can Cricket Loving Prime Minister call Mashrafe and senior players and listen to their genuine grievances? It is only her who enjoys confidence of all in Bangladesh now.
Khondkar Saleque Sufi is an eminent Research Fellow of Monash University, Australia, He was the former Advisor at Ministry of Mines & Petroleum of Republic of Afghanistan and Deputy General Manager of Bakhrabad Gas Systems Ltd.