Test captain absent, deputy too
Will star all-rounder Shakib Al Hasan play the crucial sixth and final round game of the National Cricket League (NCL) for Khulna Division?
If we go by the information from Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) CEO Nizamuddin Chowdhury, the new Bangladesh Test captain will feature for his side against Dhaka Division at BKSP as only three nationally contracted players, Mashrafe Bin Mortaza, Tamim Iqbal and Imrul Kayes, have officially applied for a break. Khulna skipper Abdur Razzak however informed over phone from BKSP that Shakib is not going to play the match starting today.
"We already reached BKSP. Among the national players Soumya [Sarkar], Mustafizur [Rahman], [Mehedi Hasan] Miraz and Rubel [Hossain] will play the match; Shakib is not playing this match and so far I have not had any communication with him," informed Razzak, whose side Khulna sit on top of the Tier-1 table with 16 points while Dhaka Division are in second place on 10 points.
As per the board's directive, the national players have to play the last round of the four-day competition as the Tigers are going to return to the Test arena in the first month of the New Year against Sri Lanka at home, and if a contracted player is unable to do so he has to submit his plea for a break to the BCB CEO.
"The instruction has been given to every national player to appear in the last round of NCL because it's a great opportunity for the players to gain some longer-version practice ahead of the home series against Sri Lanka. Mahmudullah Riyad rang me from Bangkok and informed that he will not be available as he got the instruction when he was already in Bangkok," said chief selector Minhajul Abedin.
While Mahmudullah called from Bangkok to be excused from the match, Shakib, whose T10 Cricket League commitments in Sharjah ended on Sunday night, has apparently not taken the same step.
Selector Habibul Bashar also placed emphasis on the participation of the national players and hoped all will take the opportunity ahead of the home series against Sri Lanka. "As far as I know there is no injury concern, so I hope everybody will take this opportunity and we have to prove in practice that we are really serious about our first-class cricket," said Bashar.
Interestingly, since 2011 Shakib has played two domestic first-class matches, Tamim has featured in nine, former Test captain Mushfiqur Rahim 13 and Mahmudullah 15 domestic first-class matches. Only Mushfiqur has played at least one match every year since 2011; Tamim had a barren 2011 and 2013, Riyad played no matches in 2013 while Shakib just played a match each in 2012 and 2015.
When asked about Shakib's current condition, BCB's cricket operations committee chairman Akram Khan said: "I don't know [whether Shakib will play or not]. As far as I know Imrul [Kayes] will not be available as he went to Makkah to perform umrah while Tamim [Iqbal] requested for a break for treatment abroad."
The above information is enough to gain an understanding of the professionalism in our 'professional' board.
Whenever there is a Test debacle, the lack of professionalism and competitiveness in domestic first-class competitions comes to the spotlight but the way the participation of the national players in the last round of the NCL has been handled by the board only shows a glimpse of how serious we are with our first-class commitments.