A masterstroke from the BCB boss
Following the norm is probably not the Bangladesh Cricket Board's (BCB) way of doing things -- at least that's what could be said in light of the things that have transpired recently.
Sharing snippets of the game plan, making a snarky comment to rile up the opposition, or even instigating a harmless war of words to get under the skin of rivals is usually how the build-up to any big tie -- followers of European football would know best -- in the sporting world goes about.
But, apparently, the BCB sets itself loftier goals when approaching a crucial series. If closely looked at the sequence of events that took place since the Jos Buttler-led England, who are the reigning champions in both the ODI and T20I formats, arrived in the country last Friday for a white-ball series, the steps taken by the BCB will start to make sense.
Some might question why the BCB president Nazmul Hassan Papon went on to confirm the long-rumoured 'rift' between two of the country's stalwarts -- ODI skipper Tamim Iqbal and T20I and Test captain Shakib Al Hasan -- in an exclusive interview just a day after the world champions landed in Dhaka. Airing the dirty laundry of two of the most important members of the team in public just ahead of a crucial series makes the most sense if considered from one angle -- that probably the BCB's actual goal was to starve England of any attention whatsoever by shifting the focus towards its own players.
However, after having the media analyse and scrutinise the now-confirmed 'strained relationship' between Tamim and Shakib that had gone on to 'stale the dressing room environment', Hassan performed a stunning U-turn on his words on Monday, just a day after Tamim denied any 'unhealthy environment for the past 15 years in the dressing room' in a pre-series presser in Mirpur.
"Even three years before today, I never saw any problem in the dressing room. You can cut three years from the 15 [that Tamim talked about] and consider the rest of the 12 years as I have not been around the team in the past three years. Previously, I was always with the team. The thing that the 'dressing room environment is unhealthy' is something that I have heard from the outside, especially from the media," Hassan told the media outside the team hotel in the capital on Monday night following a meeting with the team members.
To help everyone recap properly, these were the exact words of Hassan quoted in that exclusive interview: "This is not a healthy dressing room, this I can guarantee you."
However, now that the blame for 'unhealthy dressing room' claims has been passed back to the media -- even though the interview in which Hassan had initially confirmed these claims never even insinuated that the BCB boss had heard of such claims from outsiders or the media -- it is only a fair assumption that the impending ruckus in the country's cricketing fraternity will be regarding how Hassan went from 'guaranteeing' the media of 'not a healthy dressing room' to cowering behind 'all that I heard about it was from outsiders and the media'.
But by doing that with just over a day left before the Tigers were scheduled to step out to play their first ODI against England on Wednesday, Hassan presumably achieved what had probably been the plan all along -- shifting any focus from the English side towards the hosts.
And this, in fact, could really be a masterstroke as England skipper Buttler, who usually gets a lot of media attention and gets the leading newspapers and TV channels to talk a lot about his champion side on any other tours, might feel left out considering how little he and his side were talked about in the media in the last few days. It won't even be surprising if the England team members suffer from inferiority complex as they set foot on the Tigers' den -- the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium in Mirpur -- tomorrow.
Whether such steps by the BCB boss, which can only logically be assumed as part of a masterplan, will rattle the world champions, or will it backfire on the Tigers? Only time will tell.