Calcutta: Begum Khaleda Zia’s Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) is boycotting the January 5 general elections, but the principal opposition set-up is understood to have “promised” not to disrupt the February 24-March 7 Asia Cup.
“The BNP is aware that all of Bangladesh wants the tournament, as also the World T20 a little later, to take place. Accordingly, it has assured the people who matter that public sentiment will be respected,” a well-placed source told The Telegraph on Thursday evening.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s Awami League is, of course, committed to extending the “maximum cooperation.” Quite on the lines of the 2011 World Cup, when Bangladesh was a co-host.
While the Asian Cricket Council (ACC) is organising the Asia Cup, the March 16-April 6 World T20 is an International Cricket Council (ICC) competition.
There’s the Pakistan angle as well. For, there are bad vibes after the hanging in Dhaka of a fundamentalist leader, Abdul Quader Mollah, also known as the ‘Butcher of Mirpur’ for his role during Bangladesh’s War of Liberation, in 1971.
This, clearly, is a sensitive time in relations between the two countries. But, then, that’s the way it usually is in the subcontinent.
Before the two big-ticket events, however, Sri Lanka are scheduled to tour Bangladesh for two Tests, two T20s and three ODIs. The matches are between January 27-February 22.
Today, then, much of the attention is on Sri Lanka Cricket.
The ICC is in no hurry, at least not till now, but the ACC is meeting in Colombo on January 4 to decide on an “alternate venue,” in case the Asia Cup has to be relocated.
“Please don’t misunderstand... The tournament is still very much in Bangladesh, but we have to be ready with an alternate country if compulsions arise,” the ACC’s chief executive, Syed Ashraful Huq, said from Dhaka.
He added: “We’ve managed this slot after adjustments and, so, the Asia Cup has to be held on schedule.”
Huq didn’t say so, but the Asia Cup could be moved to either India or Sri Lanka. The UAE and Singapore may come into the picture too.
The ACC, interestingly, is currently headed by Narayanswamy Srinivasan, the Board of Control for Cricket in India president.
Meanwhile, another top source revealed that India “wasn’t” in the picture as an alternate venue for the World T20.
“The general elections in India could be held in April... Even if that’s not the case, electioneering would be in full swing (in April). When India’s Board has been looking at the possibility of moving the IPL out, how will the World T20 be shifted there?
“Besides, it wouldn’t make sense for India to host a global T20 competition just before its own IPL... My belief is that Sri Lanka, which staged the last World T20, last year, would be the most obvious alternate country. It’s in the same time zone, which is important,” the gentleman pointed out.
If the situation in Bangladesh gets out of hand, then the ICC’s Executive Board, which meets in Dubai on January 27-28, will take a call.
Apparently, a “security review” is scheduled around January 20.
Well, watch this space.