Bangladesh’s tour to Pakistan – The illusion ends

Monday, 31 December 2012

By Muhammad Asif Khan
 
The dawn of March 03rd, 2009 actually became the dusk for International Cricket events in Pakistan. Ever since the day, when the touring Sri Lankan team was attacked nearby Gaddafi stadium in Lahore, the cricket administrators of Pakistan have been moving from pillar to post to convince the cricketing world but so far this labour has not borne fruits.
 
Like his predecessor – Ijaz Butt – the incumbent Chairman of the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB), Zaka Ashraf has also been very keen to fill this void and invite an international outfit to Pakistan. Only recently he was almost certain to have achieved this goal by persuading the Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) as earlier in 2012, the BCB not only had given the green-signal but also sent its security delegation to Pakistan. All was seemingly well and Bangladesh was on the verge of embarking on a short trip to Pakistan but a petition in the Dhaka High Court from nowhere hindered the development.
 
Before the announcement of that trip, the Pakistan Cricket Board assured its Bangladeshi counterparts of their ‘unconditional’ support to Bangladesh for the slot of International Cricket Council (ICC) President. The tour was called off yet Pakistan went on with its commitment for the then BCB chief Mustafa Kamal who later took charge as the ICC President.
 
At that time, it was an impression that the PCB tried to break a barter deal with Bangladesh; however, despite of the tour cancellation, the appointment of the ICC president from Bangladesh with Pakistan’s negated this impression.
 
Life went on and yet again Bangladesh raised hopes and eventually backed off once again as expected. This time around the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) had played yet another card, which is again a barter deal to send its player to the Bangladesh Premier League (BPL) if Bangladesh tours Pakistan.
 
Before moving further on the issue and analyse the possible reasons of Bangladesh’s decision I would like to make a point here that in whatever circumstances the PCB should not stop it’s players from featuring in the BPL. The first reason for my viewpoint is that the players selected for league – including a lot of youngsters – should not be deprived of an opportunity to earn money as well as valuable experience after all, it’s not the fault of the Pakistani players if the Bangladesh is not coming to Pakistan. Secondly it will transmit wrong signals to the world that Pakistan Cricket Board in fact used blackmailing tactics after failing to convince Bangladesh for a short tour.
 
Earlier when Bangladesh broke the promise, the PCB showed big heart and did not oppose Bangladesh’s nomination for the ICC President, the situation is almost the same this time around too as PCB has another tool in the form BPL to somehow reciprocate the gesture shown by it’s Bangladeshi counterpart.
 
The question is that what would happen if Pakistani players are kept away from the BPL, will Bangladesh bow down to the Pakistan Cricket Board? Whatever would be the outcome but one this is for certain that the impression of blackmailing would prevail.
 
If it was imperative then this BPL card should be used earlier, and Pakistani players should not be sent for the auction. Bangladesh backed off all right, but what is the fault of the franchises, which have opted for around 20 Pakistani players? Or there must be a clause added to the contract of these players related to the Pakistan tour. Since there is no formal condition attached hence baring players would also be a breach of the code of conduct rather code of ethics. Moreover, if PCB does so, then will Bangladesh send it’s players to the proposed Premier league in Pakistan?
 
My feeling is that if the PCB used the BPL as a tool earlier then today this card is in the hand of the Bangladesh Cricket Board, because the President of the BCB, Nazmul Hassan has said that they would re-think about a short trip to Pakistan after the Bangladesh Premier League, now in this situation, imagine if the PCB boycotts the BPL then would it be in a better position to convince or pressurise it’s Bangladeshi counterparts to honour their commitment?
 
In the end coming to the possible reason of the continued uneasiness shown by the Bangladeshi board towards this issue. Their Board chairman has recently said that touring Pakistan is a ‘sensitive’ issue. The reason why he said so is that the BCB was a highly politicised organisation. Its chief is the son of the incumbent President of Bangladesh, Zillur Rahman, who is a prominent leader of the ruling party, Awami League as well. At the time when the next general elections are not so far away, how the opposition parties would cash-in on the ‘sensitive’ matter for point scoring against the ruling party.
 
There is also a large public resentment present in Bangladesh over the Pakistan tour which might have forced the ‘political’ BCB President to even sallow the bitter pill of annoying the Pakistan Cricket Board. It has probably made him a villain in Pakistan, but he has become a hero in his own country for sure.
 
 
The writer is a sports journalist in Pakistan, heads the sports department at News One TV & tweets @mak_asif
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