A lot has been said and circulated regarding Bangladesh's future in Test cricket in terms of participation. Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) president Nazmul Hasan Papon on Thursday assured the whole nation that our cricketers will not only continue to play Tests, but promised more.
The BCB boss deserves kudos for the way he fought against the two-tier Test concept at the just concluded ICC (International Cricket Council) meeting in Dubai. His uncompromising approach in the ICC board meeting compelled the Big Three to readjust their original draft position paper, with notable omissions of words like “two-tier”, “promotion” and “relegation”. But the game is yet to be won on the table.
After a six-hour discussion regarding the radical draft on Tuesday, the ICC circulated a media release saying that all board members have unanimously supported a set of principles of which the most pertinent for Bangladesh is: “There will be an opportunity for all Members to play all formats of cricket on merit, with participation based on meritocracy; no immunity to any country, and no change to membership status.”
The BCB boss on his return said that those principles including the ones above were unanimously agreed upon. We are actually not in a position to care about the other serious structural and financial issues since beggars can hardly be choosers at a stage when the ICC is hell bent on abandoning its ideology and chasing monetary gains in every aspect of its endeavour.
But whether the BCB boss is clear about his understanding, that this particular principle would protect Bangladesh's “Full Member rights in terms of status and participation” is a burning question for us at the moment.
If we read between the lines we will be amazed to see the subtle trickery which suggests that there is hardly any change in the principle, from the original stance of a two-tier Test system.
It read “all Members”, which constitutes not only the Full Members but also the Associate Members, will be allowed to play Tests based on the principle guideline of “meritocracy”.
If we assume that Test cricket will be played in the future in the way that it is played now, then the question of relegation should not exist. But the words “no immunity to any country” would only exist if there was the possibility of relegation.
If we go through the original draft position paper, it was stated that the ICC would create “a playing system based on meritocracy and not on the category of membership”.
Arguing that the existing FTP is not financially viable for many countries, it recommended a two-tier Test system with numbers nine (Zimbabwe) and 10 (Bangladesh) to play in the Inter-continental Cup. The draft also suggested that while playing in the lower tier their Test status would not be stripped and their existing FTP commitments “would be honoured”.
Interestingly, the ICC has already adopted and implemented the concept of “meritocracy” in the shorter versions. And this is why Bangladesh and Zimbabwe are playing the qualifying phase in the coming ICC T20 World Cup.
And if the principles are adopted as resolutions in the next ICC board meeting on February 8, then Bangladesh will lose the legal ground to fight their case for playing Tests after their present FTP commitments are over in 2020.
According to the BCB president, we may play more Tests than now. But that will be at someone's mercy, not by bragging rights. We believe the BCB still has time to sit and find out a formula to save the Tigers from suffering a painful demise.