Cricket’s future trapped between ignorance and false promises
Alleged corruption in domestic cricket has been a long-running plague that is at the root of the rot in Bangladesh's cricketing structure, with bias and favoritism a consistent feature of lower-tier cricket.
The issue came to the fore again when premier all-rounder Shakib Al Hasan committed a Level 3 offence according to the BCB Code of Conduct twice. First, when he kicked the stumps out of rage after the umpire denied an LBW appeal and again when he uprooted the stumps and slammed them on the ground in a fit of rage shortly after the first incident during a Bangabandhu Dhaka Premier Division T20 League (BDPL) match earlier this week.
Mohammedan skipper Shakib was rightly penalised, even though the magnitude of the punishment left something to be desired as it was not the top all-rounder's first instance of unfathomable behaviour on or off the cricket field. For his actions, he received a three-match ban and was fined Tk 5 lacs.
While Shakib's actions were inexplicable and unpardonable in every way, it was obvious that his reaction to an alleged intentional wrong call from the umpire would spread like wildfire and catch eyes given the premier all-rounder's global reach. But even before the unprecedented incident from Shakib, this tournament has been a far cry from what should be an ideal domestic cricket league.
Unfortunately, like lower-tier cricket tournaments, allegations of bias and a questionable approach from batsmen have persisted in the league from the beginning. Only Shakib's outrage, however inexcusable, made the picture more vivid for general eyes.
Eyebrows were raised when Pritom Kumar of Old DOHS Sports Club decided to leave Sujon Howlader's wide yorker when his team needed three to win off the final delivery during a fourth-round fixture of the tournament. Umpire Ali Arman allowed it as a legal delivery but what felt odd was how Old DOHS were not animated after such a close-call. The questionable batting approach at such a crucial juncture also caused confusion as it was expected the batsman would at least have a go at any delivery that comes his way, especially when the target was reachable and the team had seven wickets in hand.
Before this, in one of the second round fixtures, Old DOHS batsmen displayed questionable approach against the influential Abahani Limited. Having restricted a star-studded Abahani to a mediocre 135-run total, a sluggish batting approach from the likes of Anisul Islam Emon, Rakin Ahmed and Mahmudul Hasan Joy saw Old DOHS fall 22 runs behind despite having seven wickets in hand.
Another instance of sluggish batting was noticed during Partex Sporting Club's game against Old DOHS in the third round. Partex, who were yet to register a win after the completion of ninth round of the tournament, scored only 77 in 15 overs in a curtailed game. Interestingly, all the Partex players who batted, barring just one, batted well below a strike rate of 100, leaving them having six wickets to spare at the end.
All these incidents only suggest that the BDPL has been questionable even before Shakib's outburst. However, what was more hilarious than the suspect on-field incidents was how the Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) reacted. First, they enacted a whole drama about sanctioning Shakib with a ban despite what should have been a straightforward decision. The board took almost a day to announce their verdict, whereas ICC-mandated rules for such offences are very clear.
Then again, BCB president Nazmul Hassan seemed to have been perplexed at the prospect of news of alleged corruption in the domestic circuit. He formed a committee to investigate and even threatened to shut down the league if the allegations proved true. Such a reaction and approach is hilarious at best considering how BCB has been ignorant of all these alleged corruptions as they let them continue under their nose despite repeated media reports in the past.
However, interestingly, the BCB said it found no evidence of alleged biasness or corruption in the league after their board meeting yesterday.
The sad and most unfortunate part is that the BCB promising to get to the bottom of the issue is nothing new, with alleged misdoings rampant in the domestic league over the years. In between the BCB's false promises and continuation of the same old alleged unfairness, it is the young prospects of Bangladesh cricket who are losing their way and falling victim to such a flawed cricketing process.