New year, same old BCB
At one stage of the press conference held by Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) president Nazmul Hassan yesterday, he asked: "Don't you think after listening to all this that the steps we are taking on the very first day of the year, we are sending a strong message to all players that none of them will be spared, no matter how big the player is?"
The question he was responding to was whether the disciplinary committee's recommendations to boot Sabbir Rahman from the central contracts, a six-month ban from domestic cricket, and a Tk 20 lakh fine was harsh enough to act as deterrents. Sabbir had, on December 21 during a Rajshahi-Dhaka Metropolis National Cricket League match in Rajshahi, assaulted a young fan. He had also threateningly told the match referee not to report the incident.
Hassan then treated his audience to a story when asked about the action to be taken about Tamim Iqbal's criticism of the state of the pitch during a Comilla Victorians-Rangpur Riders BPL match in Mirpur on December 2, for which the Comilla captain and recently replaced Test vice-captain was served a show-cause notice by the board.
"Let me tell you a story... a true story. I went to a dinner, and we were all dining at the table, when everyone started asking me that Mashrafe [Bin Mortaza] had also talked about the pitch and so had Mosaddek [Hossain], foreign players did too, but no one is being punished but you issued a show-cause to Tamim," said Hassan. "But what I liked best was that a student of class five was seated there and he said 'No, I think Tamim must have done something more', so even a student of class five understands that the board will not issue a show cause for no reason.
"Tamim's one was totally different. I cannot tell you many things officially now because the impact will be on Bangladesh cricket. But his words were dangerous for Bangladesh cricket; it could have or could still seriously harm our cricket."
Upon a little coaxing, as ever, this matter of apparent grave national cricket security went from unspeakable to shareable in a matter of seconds. "A player can talk about the pitch, but why should you talk about the outfield, what was wrong with the outfield? Our outfield has already been given two demerit points. You know that if it gets four there will be no matches in Dhaka (Fatullah, upon last check, is still a part of Dhaka)."
He added, his voice at times rising with anger, that no Indian player had complained in the recent pollution-marred Test between India and Sri Lanka in New Delhi, where Sri Lankan players had worn masks and there were multiple instances of players vomiting on the field.
Hassan, and BCB director Mahbub Anam, both said that Tamim's utterances (and according to Mahbub that included the player's words to the media about the fiasco of the second qualifier being carried over into the next day without such a provision present in the BPL bylaws) was a factor in him losing the vice-captaincy.
The Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium received two demerit points from the ICC when the then newly laid turf was deemed substandard during the first Test against Australia last August. It is hard to imagine that a player saying that "the outfield also becomes less green and slow [during BPL]" as Tamim did while complaining about the pitch after the match would be enough to garner two more demerit points. To call a spade a spade, this and the recommended Tk 5 lakh fine (which Mahbub did not want to disclose but Hasan's incontinence did not permit to remain secret) are the proverbial cutting of Tamim's wings simply because he criticised his employers publicly.
Meanwhile, a serial breacher of discipline and a person who has assaulted a young boy during a BCB-sanctioned cricket match may find himself playing in the tri-series against Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe, and then his domestic ban will not mean much, even though Hassan reminded everyone that the punishment was not lenient because it is a financial blow to be missing out from the contract and the Dhaka Premier League.
So the message is clear: you can hit a child during a domestic match and still play the next international game but criticise the BCB or the setup and you will be stripped of the vice-captaincy. Even a student of class five can understand that.