A lot was expected when the present set up of the Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) took over eight months ago with a promise of a better future for the country's number one sport.
There was a checklist in hand then and the priority number one was building a National Cricket Academy, fund for which was already confirmed a year ago with the signing of a benchmark sponsorship deal with cellular giant Grameenphone. Unfortunately, nothing has transpired till today in translating that dream into reality.
Doesn't this portray a bleak picture about our game development? It does not need to be redressed how important an academy is for a growing cricket nation like Bangladesh to sustain and compete at the highest level.
On a fiercely competitive field, Bangladesh have won more criticism than hearts for the last eight months. The most disturbing aspect was their inability to deliver in the Test front -- the real test of the game. It was not however the defeats in New Zealand and at the hands of South Africa at home that made the mock Tigers a laughingstock both home and abroad but the manner in which they played the game.
It was also inexplicable to see the meek surrender of the Bangladesh youth team against South Africa in the quarterfinals of the ICC Under-19 World Cup and that too after a sensational win against England two days back.
Like it or loathe it, in modern day cricket the success of the team depends on good governance. There is no doubt the board has a lot of good people working tirelessly. But are we missing good professionals? Because a lot of recent events raised a few questions like: Are the incumbent officials efficiently running the show? Whether a professional management system has developed and is it functioning properly? Are we properly handling the national team and the foreign aid? Is there any definite plan to take the game a few steps forward or in other words, is there any guideline for the development activities?
The five-year deal with Grameenphone worth Taka 5.25 crore was meant for a two-storied academy building at Mirpur. It remained in the drawing board for too long now and it was only last month that the National Sports Council (NSC) broke the ice by leasing out the venue for 10 years.
Why 10 years only for cricket board, which is very much a government organ, when clubs get better deals from the NSC?
"I don't know why they didn't agree to give the stadium to BCB for 40 years but what they (NSC) assured us is that they will renew it," was the reply from a helpless Lt Col (retd) M Abdul Latif Khan, chairman of the game development committee.
The shabby deal also reflected that the board lost a battle without having the knowledge (from the statement of Mr. Latif) of which law allowed the bureaucrats of the NSC to put a ceiling of 10 years. The simple logic is that if something is leased out for ten years it can also be leased out for 50 or even 100 years.
The Saber Hossain Chowdhury-led board had laid the foundation for the future development programme in line with the recommendation of former coach Eddie Barlow and the Ali Asghar-led advisory committee continued with it. The result is evident. Most of the cricketers in the current national team came from the board's High Performance (HP) programme which is now suddenly discontinued leaving a huge vacuum in the pipeline.
Professionalism in the board has taken a backseat ever since the departure of Zimbabwean CEO Macky Dudhia. His successor Mahmudur Rahman's two-year tenure saw a gradual decline of BCB's financial flow from domestic events. The way Dudhia handled a coach like Dav Whatmore during his tenure was a perfect example of a professional, which is completely missing now. Presently the board is running without a CEO. Had there been a professional there should not have been belated action about some disciplinary cases of late.
History suggests that our board tends to give unbridled freedom whenever a foreign coach takes over the national team. It was no exception when Jamie Siddons replaced Whatmore. The Australian's experiment with Shahriar Nafees eventually backfired. Thankfully the left-hander finally got back his rightful place as an opener recently.
But the most unfortunate part was the board's decision to appoint Shaun Williams as his deputy. It was suicidal for the board to bring Williams in the national side as he was actually appointed to look after the more demanding games development activities.
As it stands though, these are some of so many other questions that could be asked. For the sake of the game as a whole and for Bangladesh to be a successful cricketing nation in the future, these are the issues that need to be looked at sooner rather than later.
Hopefully those concerned will sit up and take notice.