Feature Img
ICC Chairman Srinivasan.
Pictured: ICC Chairman N. Srinivasan. (File photo).

A huge spat between two cricket officials is threatening to adversely impact India-Bangladesh bilateral relations at a time when these are at their best. Bangladesh Planning Minister A.H.M. Mustafa Kamal has resigned as the International Cricket Council (ICC) president to protest against the country’s “humiliation” when he was denied the opportunity to present the World Cup 2015 to winners Australia at Melbourne.

Presenting the trophy to the winners is something ICC presidents have done since 1999 – until ICC chairman N. Srinivasan usurped the privilege in a hastily convened ICC executive on the day before the March 29 World Cup final. He got the ICC to seek a formal apology from Kamal for his outburst against “poor umpiring” during the India-Bangladesh quarterfinal. When Kamal refused, Srinivasan got the ICC executive to bar him from presenting the trophy and bestowed it upon himself to do the honours. Kamal has since returned to Bangladesh, resigned as ICC president, called Srinivasan a “mentally deranged man” and someone “impossible to work with” and even called the ICC the “Indian Cricket Council.”

It appears that Srinivasan, who had coldly dared Kamal to do anything he wants, is planning to hit back. His supporters are trying to force an emergency meeting of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), where they intend to get it to cancel the tour of Bangladesh in June 2015, during which Team India is expected to play two Tests and three ODIs.

Srinivasan supporters will argue that Kamal’s tirades can no longer be treated as a “personal issue” – Kamal says he is upset with Srinivasan and has nothing against the Indian board – as Srinivasan is the Indian board’s representative in the ICC.

But Srinivasan has large number of opponents in the BCCI who will stoutly oppose such plans, arguing that it is a personal issue and the BCCI cannot afford to create a diplomatic row. If they can’t stop Srinivasan from having his way, they will wish the cancellation of the Bangladesh tour will boil over into a major crisis and Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government will be forced to intervene. If the BCCI cancels the tour, Kamal will surely get Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, who too has lashed out at the “poor umpiring” and the “uncivilised behaviour” towards Kamal, to intervene.

India is beholden to Hasina for her crackdown against Islamist rebels and those from India’s northeast who were long sheltered in Bangladesh before she assumed power in January 2009. With her government allowing heavy equipment for power projects and grain consignments to go through Chittagong port to the northeastern state of Tripura, New Delhi feels it is payback time. Modi, who is keen to push for improved relations with all neighbours, plans to visit Bangladesh this summer after the Indian parliament clears the long-pending Land Boundary Agreement. He plans to land in Dhaka with the LBA done and at a time when he can possibly promise a Teesta water-sharing agreement soon enough. Indian diplomats in Dhaka have made it clear Modi should not come empty-handed.

So, the last thing that Modi and his foreign policy team can accept is the BCCI calling off the tour, especially when Pakistan is also sending its cricket team on a tour of Bangladesh this summer. It may be a much better idea for Modi’s foreign policy managers to step in before the crisis explodes in the open. And, Indian interests cannot be held hostage by someone like Srinivasan, who has been barred from contesting BCCI elections by the Supreme Court but has managed to get the board to nominate him as India’s representative at the ICC and then become its all-powerful chairman.

Kamal’s outburst on umpiring may be an immature act. It may well be that Kamal is trying to shore up public support for his beleaguered Awami League back home by playing on nationalist sentiments at a time when it is desperately trying to counter the BNP-led transport blockade and strikes. But, Rohit Sharma was out by all means and Rubel Hossain’s ball was surely not above the waist! It’s anybody’s guess as to what would have happened if he had walked back at 90 and not when he had made that wonderful century – or if the in-form Mahmudullah Riyad had not been given out to the controversial Shikhar Dhawan catch in the deep. But at the end of the day, cricket is just a sport, and should we say much-tainted sport, with all its match-fixing and IPL scams. And there is no good reason to hold India’s relations with a friendly neighbour hostage for a controversial cricket administrator who has not exactly covered the nation with glory over the years.

Subir Bhaumik is a former BBC correspondent and author of “Insurgent Crossfire,” and “Troubled Periphery.” He is now a Senior Editor with bdnews24.com.

Subir Bhaumikis a columnist and former senior editor of bdnews24.com. He also worked as a correspondent of the BBC World Service for many years. As a journalist he has broken some of the biggest stories in North East India, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Nepal and Bhutan. He has written a number of books on the region.

10 Responses to “Cricket spat shouldn’t hold India-Bangladesh ties to ransom”

  1. Poltu

    Bangladesh, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, South Africa, and West Indies should create another cricket league and leave the ICC. ICC has become the death knell of international cricket. No one watches cricket except in South Asia. In New Zealand, a country who played in the 2015 World Cup final, it is the 6th most popular sport. In Australia also it doesn’t make it into the top 3. India keeps changing cricket rules and creating schedules to give themselves an edge e.g. 2 new balls (they cant reverse swing), power plays, drop in pitches, banning bowlers 1 month before start of World Cup, etc. etc. This in the only way they can win, that too, when they go overseas they are no better than Bangladesh. They create the rules for themselves to win then they celebrate very hard and say “we are the best in the world”. It’s sad and pathetic to watch their antics actually.

  2. ABM Salim

    India should withdraw it’s support for Mr Srinivasan in ICC because he’s the person responsible for the mess(not only poor umpiring) in 19th March world cup cricket match Between Bangladesh and India. Mr Srini used the Indian staff’s for other lots of mismanagement…………..

  3. Shafaat Sheik Giasuddin

    Nice update. Need to get more updates on what they are up to. Also,
    Q: WHY IS IT THAT WE REFER ICC AS INDIAN CRICKET COUNCIL?
    A: WE ALL KNOW WHO IS RUNNING CRICKET IT’S INDIA, AUSTRALIA & ENGLAND AND JUST FOR THE SAKE OF MONEY NOT CRICKET. CRICKET COMES FIRST AND EVERY COMPANY SHOULD GET A FAIR CHANCE OF SPONSORSHIP.

    Q: WHY IS THAT INDIAN COMPANY’S AD IS BEING FEATURED IN NON-INDIAN GAMES? THEY ARE WATCHING THOSE MATCHES. ONLY A HANDFUL OF INDIANS WATCH THEM. NOT EVEN 50% OF PEOPLE WHO WATCHED INDvBD SAW SAvNZ? THEN WHY NOT SA AND NZ COMPANIES SPONSOR THOSE MATCHES INSTEAD OF ONE COMPANY SPONSORING THE WHILE TOURNAMENT?
    A: Need Answer

  4. faisal

    Actually, it was just a cricket match marred by controversial umpiring. wr should look forward to the Indian Cricket Team’s tour to Bangladesh.

  5. sundar swapan

    I am thinking what reaction Bangladesh would have demonstrated against controversial umpiring if in place of India the contesting team of the much talked about match. Had it been say Australia or South Africa or Pakistan I presume the reaction would never been as venomous and hateful as has been observed against India. Hatred for India is deeply embedded in the psyche of Bangladeshi people . Other wise how could the immediate statement of the ICC President be to the effect that ICC stand for Indian Cricket Council? I would ask the Bangladeshi cricket fans to place the Bangladesh cricket team in the place of Indian cricket team in that match and suppose Indian member of ICC made the similar statement like Kamal against Bangladesh and try to imagine how Bangladeshis would have felt.

    • Mustafa Kamal

      Are you not aware the present government’s kissing of Indian government and it’s people? Had this been Pakistan, the Prime Minister herself would have petitioned to Int. Court of Justice for the crimes done during the game. Just because you are India does not mean you step on every tom, dick and harry. You are wrong where you are and we are wrong where we are. The biggest mistake during 1971 was we took Indian help. What would be worst, we would loose to Pakistani’s, we would have fought again. A country is not born in a day. The reason why hating Indian’s is becoming a culture now here is because your politics interferes with our country and you guys are sly like a fox, which we finally realize. The country that we wanted freedom and our own rights is back in the hands of another “Paki”dian regime for last 40 plus year! We never got liberated because of you.

      • Pulak Sen

        Don’t be an ignoramus, Mr. Kamal. Without the powerful army, navy and air force that India had put forward in ’71, the bloody Pakis would be here until today, and we would be speaking Urdu. This is not to say that you don’t have valid points about our neighbour next door. That debate is raging on, and the current political stalemate has a lot to do with what we think about our big brotherly neighbour, don’t you think? At least we are not being butchered, or raped.

  6. Golam Arshad

    Subir: Wonderful write up! Who will be the ‘Scapegoat’ Former President of ICC Mustafa Kamal or BCCI. President Srinivashan? The current fiasco is turning political unless resolved amicably! We will have to wait and see!

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