DON'T WORRY, WE'RE HERE: (L-R) Mehrab Hossain, Shahadat Hossain and Shakib Al Hasan walk down the corridors of cricket's home at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium in Mirpur to meet the board officials yesterday.Photo: STAR
It is apparent that Bangladesh Cricket Board's (BCB) desire to meet with the ICL-bound cricketers in an effort to stop them from playing in the banned competition would not be fruitful.
And in the turmoil after the mass resignation on Sunday the only respite for incumbent cricket officials was the assurances they got from other contracted players who met with them at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium in Mirpur yesterday.
"We feel proud to represent the national team", was the common sentiment of the young brigade that included Shakib Al Hasan, Shahadat Hossain, Mehrab Hossain, Abdur Razzak, Mushfiqur Rahim, Syed Rasel, Mahmudullah Riyad and Zunaed Siddiqui.
The BCB asked the rebel cricketers to appear at the board office today but former Bangladesh skipper Habibul Bashar and wicketkeeper Dhiman Ghosh reportedly have left the country for India and there was hardly any indication that the other rebel cricketers have changed their minds to attend the meeting.
There was however strong rumour in the cricket arena that more cricketers including few current national players were set to join the bandwagon and it seemed that the board had been concentrating more on how to prevent further exodus other than brining back the six contracted players, who submitted their retirement letters on Sunday.
BCB's cricket operations committee met with the other contracted players to let them know about the consequences of participating in the rebel Indian Cricket League (ICL) as well as the next three years' international programmes for them. The committee also tried to understand their sentiment.
There was whispering that dashing batsman Tamim Iqbal, who many believe got a handsome offer from the ICL authority, could also follow suit. And his absence in the meeting added fuel to the speculation, but committee chairman Gazi Ashraf Hossain informed that the left-hander was on a leisure trip to Kuakata. On the other hand it's all but confirmed that his Chittagonian teammate Nazimuddin is all set to join the ICL.
"What we learnt is that Tamim is on a holiday trip while Nazim is indeed a suspect. On the other hand Mashrafe (Bin Mortaza) could not attend because he has lost his grand parent," Ashraf said.
The board has however had almost no communication with the rebel cricketers although they sent SMS on mobile phones and letters through courier. "Let's see what happens tomorrow [Tuesday] and we still hope they will come to meet us," said Ashraf.
But Shahriar Nafees, one of the cricketers who resigned from all sorts of cricket citing personal reasons, said that he didn't get any official instruction from the board.
"SMS is not a proper way to communicate with somebody. Any board official is yet to give me a call and only a board employee rang me yesterday [Sunday]. I will only think about attending the meeting if the invitation comes in a proper way," said Nafees.
"I had conversations with Aftab Ahmed and few other players and everybody were asking about the situation and what was going on," he informed.
Ashraf however claimed that they invited the cricketers in proper way as the board already sent letters to their respective addresses.
Meanwhile the board's effort to restrain Mahbubul Karim, who is now touring Sri Lanka with the GP-BCB National Cricket Academy team, went in vain as the opener was desperate to stick to his decision and that's why the BCB's development committee has decided to bring him back and send a replacement -- Zahurul Islam -- today.
In the meantime BCB already communicated with the International Cricket Council (ICC) to know about the details of the legal aspects but they will only take their final decision once it was confirmed that the players joined the ICL.
The only thing which however comforted the officials was none other than the national feelings of the other contracted players.
"I think it's a personal choice whether he will play for his country or play in other competitions. But I am very much clear in my position. I want to play for my country and I believe everything will come in my way if I keep my position on the national side," said all-rounder Shakib Al Hasan.
"You know some of my old neighbours told me 'baba [father] don't do anything like them [Bashar, Nafees] because we will never take care of you if you don't play for the country. You got many things only because you played for Bangladesh'. And I am really touched by their emotion," responded left-arm spinner Abdur Razzak from Khulna.
Pacer Shahadat Hossain however gave his opinion in his own style. The lanky pacer first jokingly said, "Why not if I get 3 crore taka!" but later assured the officials that his only dream was to play for the country.
And just to make sure that no stone is unturned, the committee also met with the Australian tour's team management and question was raised if it was too late when it was all but confirmed that there had been lot of talking about the ICL during the trip down under.