"To me the World Cup is top priority. It's good if we can arrange the Premier League but if we can't it doesn't matter," was what Bangladesh Cricket Board president Nazmul Hassan Papon said to reporters yesterday.
Obviously hosting an event like a World Cup is a huge undertaking for any sports governing body, which will be the case for the Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) when it hosts next year's ICC Twenty20 World Cups. So there is nothing untoward in BCB president Nazmul Hassan Papon placing the highest priority on the successful staging of the global event. And certainly, a World Cup is a much bigger event than a domestic competition like the Dhaka Premier League (DPL).
On superficial examination of a country's cricketing activities, it may be deemed acceptable that the chief of a sporting body responsible for carrying out all manners of activities and initiatives only concern himself with the bigger events like World Cups. There are after all other personnel to look after the domestic side of things, which are nonetheless the bread and butter of the country's professional cricketers. But as the sorry state of domestic cricket proves, a chief cannot only concern himself with one particular task at a time; instead he has to have a solid hold on all the activities within the community that he is responsible for.
In light of that sentiment, his latest remark on the dilly-dallying with the country's lone 50-over competition during yesterday's press conference came as a shock.
“We are trying (to hold the league). The league is important but I have to look into bigger issues. You may think that there is no need for the World Cup and that the Premier League must take place. Work is ongoing at Mirpur, Fatullah, BKSP, and there will be an inspection in September. So August is a very important month for me. True, there is no point in sacrificing the Premier League but I firmly believe that the World Cup is more important than any domestic league,” was the latest salvo from the BCB boss when asked about the uncertainty over the league.
Yes, we can sacrifice something for a bigger national cause but it should never have come to this in the first place. The league was supposed to be held in March but the BCB as usual bent to the all-powerful clubs and spent six months postponing the tournament repeatedly. The president seemed excited with the increase of councillorship for the six top clubs but he has not seemed to question whether it is desirable to give clubs more power when the same clubs have been reluctant to play the league, which is their only notable contribution to the country's cricket.
As host nation, Bangladesh's main job – there are no opening or closing ceremonies for the 2014 event -- is to provide venues for an ICC-sponsored event like the World Twenty20. The president however is willing to put aside all other cricketing activities for the upcoming mega tournament.
While many may pat Papon's back for his eagerness to successfully host the event, the reality remains that Bangladesh's profile as a cricket nation will increase only through improvements in performance of the national team, for which the good health of domestic competitions is key. In that regard, a similar drive to the one being undertaken with a target to doing well in the 2015 50-over World Cup in Australia will not go amiss.
So if someone terms the activities and choices made by the incumbent president as short-sighted, there are enough arguments to back up the claim.