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image_55_25782A few specific bosses of Bangladeshi cricket are now in tough waters. Tamim Iqbal’s four fingers, raised sequentially in live TV during the Asia Cup final, were equal to multiple pokes on someone’s eyes. Then the social-media exploded once again with a somewhat dated but still unexplained photo of Shakib Al Hasan. In the photo Shakib is seemingly begging for mercy, kneeling down in front of Mr. AHM Mustafa Kamal (popularly known as Lotus Kamal), the current head of Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB). The fiasco surrounding Tamim’s entry into the national team and then the resurrection of this strange photo of Shakib have created major public outrage against specific BCB officials during the Asia Cup 2012, particularly in the social media.

Having lost credibility and needing a proof of purpose, these same cricket officials perhaps wanted to do something magical that the cricketers failed to do. The officials wanted to “confiscate” the Asia Cup from Pakistanis, and bring it to Bangladesh by lodging a “complaint” with the Asian Cricket Council (ACC) and the International Cricket Council (ICC). The current BCB happens to be run by a billionaire political appointee.

The unexplained Shakib photo

Shakib Al Hasan is currently ranked number one in the ICC’s ranking of all-rounders for both one-dayers and Test cricket. Few folks of this country ever become number one in anything of global significance. This man of 25 years has achieved this feat and has already raised the flag of Bangladesh high in faraway places in front of hundreds of millions of people.

Cricket being the second-most “popular” game in the world, Shakib is a greater treasure for our nation than we currently realise. Therefore, I wonder, how it is fathomable that this Shakib Al Hasan was required to bend on his knees in front of a local tycoon reportedly to save his cricket career.

This strange photo first appeared in Daily Kaler Kantha (http://www.dailykalerkantho.com/?view=details&archiev=yes&arch_date=23-01-2010&type=gold&data=Study&pub_no=55&cat_id=1&menu_id=18&news_type_id=1&index=0). The Hindustan Times and some other foreign media published news on this photo as well (http://www.hindustantimes.com/StoryPage/Print/501074.aspx

http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2010-01-24/top-stories/28113997_1_shakib-al-hasan-bcb-bangladesh-skipper). Authentic sources have confirmed that the original source of the photo, the Daily Kaler Kantha, now maintains silence over the issue. They are neither standing up for the original story they had published nor are they saying the story was false. Other Bangladeshi newspapers also remain quiet. It is mostly the internet activists who were left doing the heavy lifting of pursuing the truth behind this photo. The photo is all over Facebook and various blogs.

143863.2There are various accounts of the photo found in the social media including the original report by Daily Kaler Kantha. All of these accounts are disturbing. If these accounts are true, we need to ask what type of professionalism are we nurturing in the BCB that gives birth to such photos in the first place? Didn’t the ICC at least provide some sort of guidance around human resource management?

If we find that the reported story behind this photo accurate, the photo portrays a sad episode. It tells us that our players, in this example, Shakib Al Hasan, may feel that their cricketing skills or international popularity are not sufficient to survive their careers, when threatened by influential folks like Mr. Mustafa Kamal.

But Shakib, or for that matter, any of our national cricketer, is no ordinary citizen of Bangladesh. What we now demand is that someone like the honourable prime minister Sheikh Hasina steps in and looks into the matter. If found guilty, we demand that the honourable PM breaks the audacity of these tycoons in question. She precisely did the same when she asked Akram Khan, the head selector of Bangladesh cricket team, to withdraw his resignation.  Mr. Khan had resigned protesting the undue interference of the same tycoon Mr. Kamal regarding Tamim Iqbal’s inclusion in the national team. Tamim’s subsequent four fifties were pleasant gifts for our PM, as these rewarded her sound judgment during the fiasco. Will our honourable PM rise above party loyalty one more time and investigate the Shakib photo?

The futile appeal to the ACC and ICC

Almost as an after-thought, the Bangladesh Cricket Board decided to appeal to the ACC and ICC to fine Pakistan 5 runs, and in the process requested them to declare Bangladesh the winner of the nail-biting final match of the Asia Cup 2012. BCB’s key point was that Pakistani Cricketer Azioz Cheema obstructed one of Bangladeshi batsmen while he was trying to take a single. The umpires on the field indeed cautioned Azioz Cheema for his action during the match. Such incidences are part of the game, and are not that rare.

When the entire nation was celebrating our cricketers’ sky-high achievements, this news of complaint sounded like a trouble that no one had asked for. The news of a useless appeal came at a time when many around the world had convincingly concluded that Bangladesh has won everything but the cup.

The tremendous goodwill that our cricketers achieved is evidenced by Brian Lara’s comments where he termed Bangladesh as the new “terror” of the cricketing world in his emotional Facebook status. The useless appeal made by the BCB can only ruin such goodwill.

The procedural futility of the appeal is already addressed by the ICC and ACC, as they both have turned down Bangladesh’s plea. If anything, this has proven that some of our over-enthusiastic BCB executives lacked understanding of cricketing laws and precedence. Before filing such a flimsy appeal, did anyone in the BCB bother to check when was the last time the result of a final match was reversed based on an appeal by the defeated team?

Politician’s games don’t end with the referee’s whistle

Our politicians often say “there is no final say in politics”. These folks don’t accept results, and cannot simply settle a score.

It is absurd to believe that the BCB’s appeal was the brainchild of anyone with sound knowledge of cricket. The childishness of the appeal makes it obvious it was the work of overzealous political appointees and their yes-men. Unfortunately, the decision of the few has ended up making our cricketers, supporters, and the entire nation appear ridiculous in front of the world.

Obviously our cricketers could not protest publicly about this whimsical decision of the BCB regarding the appeal. Look at Shakib’s photo above one more time to understand why. However, there is no doubt in my mind that our Tigers felt ashamed seeing such a lousy, off-the-field approach to make Bangladesh the champions of the Asia Cup tournament. Our Tigers have already showed their true spirit and capabilities of winning such a cup on the field. The world bears witness to that.

We can only hope that the Bangladesh Cricket Board, run by money-men-turned-cricket-officials, do not ruin the hard earned respect of our glorious cricketers.

Shafquat Rabbee is a freelance contributor.

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