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BCB approves ‘death warrant of cricket’

Azad Majumder and Atif Azam

The apparent decision of the Bangladesh Cricket Board to endorse a proposal by India, Australia and England to revamp the International Cricket Council was received with shock and anger by cricket fans all over the country.
In an executive meeting on Thursday the BCB approved the draft proposal by 20 votes to 3. If the proposal receives final approval at the ICC board meeting it would deprive Bangladesh of Test cricket at least until 2019.
Only three directors – reportedly Ahmed Sazzadul Alam, Tanjil Chowdhury and Shawkat Aziz Russell – voted against the draft proposal, which says that from 2015 the 9th and 10th-ranked Test teams would have to play in the Intercontinental Cup to become eligible for Test matches again.
The BCB vote came hours after the Board of Control for Cricket in India unanimously approved the proposal in a meeting in Chennai. BCB president Nazmul Hasan indicated that the board did not want to incur the wrath of the BCCI by opposing the plan. Nazmul also argued that it would not hamper the BCB’s revenue from the ICC.
Social media was full of comments criticising the BCB’s position, which one fan likened to selling one’s mother for money.
‘Who runs Bangladesh cricket, BCB or BCCI?’ cricket fan Probhash Amin asked in his Facebook status. ‘The proposal that India brought in ICC it is indirectly stripping Bangladesh of Test status. …surprisingly, the Bangladesh Cricket Board also sided with the proposal. Money has become more important than cricket to them. I don’t want money at the expense of cricket. It’s like selling your mother.’
In addition to ordinary cricket fans, cricket administrators and former cricketers also blasted the BCB for what they said was a suicidal decision tantamount to signing a death warrant for Bangladesh cricket.
Former BCB president Saber Hossain Chowdhury, during whose term Bangladesh was awarded Test status on June 26, 2000, wrote a letter to Nazmul, saying that he was deeply concerned by the development.
‘As a former president of Bangladesh Cricket Board and presently a member of Bangladesh Cricket Board’s general council and last but not least as a fellow parliamentarian, I am aghast and deeply disappointed at the  apparent decision of BCB Board of Directors to endorse a plan/proposal of three Full Members of ICC,’ Saber wrote in his letter.
‘This decision is tantamount to signing the death warrant for Bangladesh cricket. We have worked hard and persevered for decades to achieve Test Status and Full Membership of the ICC and we historically did so on 26th June, 2000.
‘This was a crowning moment for not just Bangladesh Cricket but for the entire nation and people of Bangladesh. Bangladesh Cricket Board was honoured and recognised with the country’s highest national award – Independence Day Award – for this outstanding achievement.
‘All of the functions and activities of the BCB are geared towards participating and competing at the highest level of world cricket and is essentially the raison d’etre for the Board’s existence.
I read your comments about ego and reality but do not feel these can ever take precedence and priority over national interest and principles. There is more to life and responsibility than meekly surrendering and being subservient to powers that be. 
‘We had the courage and self-belief to seek and achieve Test Status but now sadly lack the conviction and leadership to defend it.  Mere short term financial benefit cannot surely be at the expense of the very survival of cricket but this evidently is precisely what the Board of Directors have voted for.
‘We now stand to lose all that we have so proudly achieved and this is simply not acceptable. I am sorry and sad to say that that the decision of the BCB Board of Directors is not in the interest of Bangladesh cricket and is also in conflict with our national interest. As the custodian of Bangladesh cricket, BCB cannot preside over its demise and be its de facto executioner.
‘Whilst I applaud the courage and the wisdom of a few directors to vote against the proposal, I question too the rationale to put the matter to vote.
‘Surely by so doing and having the endorsement of the Board to support the plan, you have in effect tied your hands and now have no moral or institutional standing to oppose it during the upcoming ICC Board Meeting.
‘I question too the jurisdiction of the Board of Directors to decide on an issue of such momentous implications.
‘If in your shoes, I would have referred the matter to an emergency meeting of the BCB general council, which as per the Constitution imposed by the NSC, is the apex organizational tier of the BCB and I would also have discussed the matter with NSC and sought the government’s views on the matter.
‘Such a consultative process and approach would only have strengthened your hand and given you more options for the upcoming meeting.
‘Plan of the three full members to restructure world cricket, concentrate power in the few and create second class cricket citizens with regard to Bangladesh and Zimbabwe is repugnant to the letter and spirit of ICC’s constitution and the vision of growing the game globally. We must have the courage to oppose it and stand up and be counted.
‘If you need my support or that of former Presidents, I am sure we will only be too pleased to help as best we can and stand firmly by your side and try to rally the other six full members of the ICC as well.
‘I would urge you to review and reverse the decision of the Board of Directors and to oppose in the strongest possible terms the plan of the three Full Members.
‘You will be failing in your responsibility as President if you fail to correct this. BCB will also have failed in its duties as the custodian and representative of our cricket,’
Former national skipper and ex-board director Gazi Ashraf Hossain echoed the sentiment and said that he expected a firm stance from BCB in this regard.
‘I think we should be specific with our stance in this regard,’ Ashraf told New Age. ’We must know what we want and need to do to take the game further and stop believing that someone else would do it for us.’
Former BCB vice-president and general secretary Rais Ahmed was also surprised and said that if the proposal is accepted it can only take the game backwards.
‘I am stunned and all I am [worried about] is this will take our cricket to the back-foot,’ he said.
‘Among the 20 votes there were three former national captains, and it was quite amazing.’
‘The BCB is saying that their earnings will rise, but money is not everything. If you do not play with superior opponents how can your cricket improve?’
The decision also took other former national cricketers aback.
‘It is really upsetting to hear about it,’ said former national cricketer ASM Faruk.
‘Personally I don’t agree with the stance taken by BCB. Rather they should have taken the initiative to have an understanding with South Africa and Sri Lanka, along with West Indies, to keep their Test status unharmed.’

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