The Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) may yesterday have signed a death warrant for cricket in the country. BCB directors voted 20-3 in favour of supporting the draft proposal which will be tabled at the next International Cricket Council (ICC) meeting on 28-29 January, a proposal that will bring about a massive upheaval in Bangladesh cricket.
If the proposal -- brought forward by India, Australia and England -- is adopted, as things stand, Bangladesh will not play Tests for eight years. After eight years of playing four-day cricket against Associate Member nations, if they finish on top of the eight-team ranking field they will play the bottom-ranked team of the top tier in Tests (which they would not have played for eight years) for a chance at a promotion. If India, England and Australia (who according to the proposal cannot be relegated) form the three lowest teams in the top tier, then Bangladesh will have to face the fifth-ranked side.
The impossibility of the situation is that the progress that Bangladesh have so far made has largely been due to them playing top-ranked opposition. If the proposal is adopted they will be playing against lower-ranked opposition and so scope for improvement outside the top eight will be improbable. The cricket eco-system is a fragile one with the few countries at the top needing to play each other -- with all the different conditions each country offers -- to stay competitive. The proposal will also remove power from the ICC and therefore any semblance of accountability of the top boards. It stands to harm cricket as a whole, but Bangladesh, and Zimbabwe, will be the swiftest and most tragic casualties.
BCB president Nazmul Hassan Papon hinted that when voting in favour of the draft proposal they took the long-term future of the game in account, citing reasons such as appeasing the powerful boards in order to gain future favours. What he and the BCB may have missed, however, is that with this draft proposal there may not be a long-term future for Bangladesh cricket.