An unfair disadvantage
“I am hoping that I will be able to play from the first match. I am more concerned about my practice as it's been a long time since I have batted. I don't know about the exact condition of my injured finger as I have to know how much pain there is and how much I will be able to do. So for that I need to bat.
Even before a ball has been bowled in the Asia Cup, the Bangladesh team have been considerably disadvantaged due to what can only be called mismanagement.
Most of the Bangladesh squad reached Dubai on Sunday to prepare for their tournament opener against Sri Lanka on September 15. But two of the most important members of the team -- opening batsman Tamim Iqbal and fast bowler Rubel Hossain -- are still in Dhaka as they were yet to receive their UAE visas.
The Asia Cup is the flaghsip event organised by the Asian Cricket Council (ACC) and behind only the World Cup and Champions Trophy in terms of popularity. Even though the tournament is being held in the UAE, India are the official hosts. As such, the Board of Control for Cricket in India are the home board and it is understood that it is the host nation's responsibility to take care of the logistics and liaise with the concerned government to ensure the smooth arrival of the squads and to stage the tournament according to ACC guidelines.
Apart from Tamim and Rubel, team manager Khaled Mahmud and chief selector Minhajul Abedin were also waiting for visas, as per the latest information gathered yesterday.
It has been over 21 years since Bangladesh last played an international game in the UAE. With the desert heat and extreme conditions in mind, the Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) had arranged to send the squad a week in advance so that they could acclimatise.
“Obviously it's a disturbing issue for us as we wanted our players to get acclimatised with conditions in the UAE for which we decided to send the team a week before the start of the tournament,” BCB CEO Nizamuddin Chowdhury told The Daily Star yesterday.
The delay was not down to any problems on BCB's end as they completed all the legal formalities and submitted the applications to the ACC's logistics department.
"They are on stanby, and will depart the moment they get the visa,” Chowdhury said, but could not give a definite answer to the question of when exactly the players will get the visas.
Bangladesh has hosted many big events such as the 1998 Mini World Cup, 2011 World Cup, the 2014 World Twenty20 and several Asia Cups, and Chowdhury said that not once has there been an issue regarding visas of visiting teams.
Tamim is known as a player who likes to practise diligently and prepare himself as best as possible before a big event. Both he and Rubel are crucial players and it seems that their practice and acclimatisation will be substantially hampered. In a multinational tournament where it is imperative to give all teams equal opportunity to prepare and compete, instead of running things smoothly BCCI's mismanagement has ensured that Bangladesh -- a major contender -- will be handicapped from the start.