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          Volume 11 |Issue 16 | April 20, 2012 |


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Is the proposed ODI tour to Pakistan a good gesture or one man's greed for power? Photos: AFP

Touring Pakistan

The Bangladesh Cricket Board has agreed to tour Pakistan at the end
of April for an ODI and a T-20 international. the Star analyses the politics behind this move.

Naimul Karim

The relationship between the Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) and its Pakistani counterpart somehow manages to represent the volatile graph of the Dhaka Stock Exchange; one second it's up and the very next moment it plunges into a deep crisis. The BCB President Mustafa Kamal's recent decision to tour Pakistan has set the so-called 'friendship graph' rolling and has once again compelled the general public to talk about international 'brotherhood' and how the two nations were actually 'one' a long time ago.

The scenario was slightly different a few weeks ago--in an unsporting move, the BCB protested the result of the finals of the Asia Cup; a Pakistani Daily reported that Pakistan's cricket chiefs were unhappy with the BCBs reluctance to send its team and threatened to block Pakistani players from playing in the Bangladesh Premier League if their demand wasn't fulfilled.

Three years ago several Sri Lankan players were injured when gunmen attacked a bus carrying the Sri Lankan team.

Truth be told, Pakistan's say in the cricketing world has diminished by a huge margin. The unfortunate series of events that have taken place in the last three years have compelled them to take a back seat. It has forced the PCB to play what is perhaps the only remaining trick up its sleeve: endorsing a Bangladeshi candidate for the next International Cricket Council Presidency. In return, the BCB president was more than just welcoming to the offer and did everything within his power to organise a tour to Pakistan, the highlight of which included a delegation being sent to inspect the situation.

While Kamal's effort to enter the big boys club maybe commendable, after all, being the next vice-president of the ICC can only make things better for Bangladesh cricket, one needs to understand that amidst all the cricketing politics there's something known as a 'cricketer's opinion.' Reports published in recent months clearly state that the players and their board's president aren't necessarily on the same page with regard to the tour.

A recent report published in The Daily Star talks about the Cricketers' Welfare Association of Bangladesh's (CWAB) worry regarding the tour. The CWAB claims to have heard the 'concern of cricketers' and is against the series. The apprehension regarding the tour was quite clear when even Stuart Law, the former coach, in March, refused to be available for the proposed tour, due to security reasons.

Speaking to the Star, a national team player stated his concern and said that his friends, though mockingly, decided to take pictures with him just in case he doesn't return back from the tour! While the national cricketer might have assessed the situation in a jovial manner, agreeing to tour Pakistan in the current scenario, definitely poses some serious questions.

The tour, if goes on according to plan, will bring cricket back to Pakistan after a gap of three years, something that the Pakistani fans have been craving for a long time. Kamal's election as Vice President of the ICC, however, may still remain in a limbo.

Both Akram Khan and Tamim Iqbal had points to prove during the Asia Cup.
Photos: AFP

With the ICC deferring Kamal's nomination and making the presidential post a lot less powerful by creating a new position -- Chairman--that would head the board from 2014 onwards , the BCB president may not receive the kind of results that he has been vouching for. What makes life a lot more difficult for the BCB president is that a number of cricketing nations, including Pakistan, have already shown a positive sign regarding the changes. With each issue depending upon so many other factors, it is almost impossible to predict Kamal's future position in the ICC.

The BCB president is once again in the middle of a controversy. Prior to this episode he was accused by Akram Khan, Chief Selector, of interfering in the decision-making of selectors when Tamim Iqbal wasn't initially selected in the Asia Cup squad. He was also criticised by former national players regarding the controversial constitutional amendment which revoked the rights of cricketers to become BCB councilors. His recent decision of sending the Bangladeshi Cricket Team to play a two-day series in Pakistan is bound to face criticism.

One of the first persons in that line is former national skipper Roquibul Hassan who in a recent report questioned the relevance of such a short tour. While supporters of the series state that it is only through such short tours that Pakistan can get back its right to host tournaments, critics however feel that the BCB wants to live up to their commitment in whatever manner possible, only to be eligible for the presidential post.

Whether the time is right for Pakistan to host international events is a question that has remained unanswered. The recent jailbreak in Pakistan, which led to the escape of 400 prisoners, will be on everyone's mind, no matter how unrelated the two events may look like. The real problem in this case, however, is the manner in which the series of events have unfolded. The very fact that cricket is being used as a bargaining tool for the self interest of a certain individual is in itself a violation of the spirit of the game.


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