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Bangladesh causes stir, will oppose relegation

- Srinivasan won’t attend the ICC’s executive board meeting
Did Prime Minister Hasina intervene?

Calcutta: Bangladesh has decided to stand up for its rights as a Full (Test-playing) Member of the world body, respecting “public sentiment” across the country which has been seeing so much unrest on another count.

The development has caused quite a stir in and out of the International Cricket Council (ICC), for it was assumed that the newest entrant to the Test-playing fraternity wouldn’t defy Big Brothers India, England and Australia.

Considerable drama preceded the decision taken in Dhaka.

Apparently, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina had to ‘intervene’ and convey to the Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB), which is headed by ruling party MP Nazmul Hassan, that the country’s Test status couldn’t be compromised in any manner whatsoever.

Prime Minister Hasina’s aware that cricket unites Bangladesh and there would be massive protests if the country was forced out of the 10 Test-playing nations’ club.

Specifically, then, the BCB has decided to oppose a proposal which would lead to the two lowest-ranked Test teams being relegated to tier II, next year onwards.

Zimbabwe and Bangladesh are currently ranked No.9 and No.10, respectively, and risk humiliation.

India, England and Australia have masterminded a series of proposals to bring about a class divide in the ICC. It was almost taken for granted that Bangladesh would fall in line.

But no.

The proposals are to be discussed in Dubai from Monday to Wednesday, both in the lead up to and during the ICC’s executive board meeting.

“We’re opposed to any move which reduces the number of Test-playing nations... The ICC should, in fact, look to increase the number... Its motto must be to expand, not contract...

“All 10 Test-playing nations have to be on one platform and we won’t compromise on that... Bangladesh has been playing Test cricket for over 13 years and we shouldn’t be pushed back at a time we’re improving,” BCB spokesman Jalal Yunus told The Telegraph.

Speaking from Dhaka on Saturday evening, Yunus added: “Among the other proposals, the BCB sees merit in some relating to the commercial aspects of the ICC. We don’t have reservations there...

“On the issue of India, England and Australia dominating the rest and even being above relegation, well, we’d like an open discussion among all 10 Test-playing nations. At this stage, the BCB has no further comment.”

Cricket South Africa was the first Board to oppose the proposals, a few days ago. Sri Lanka Cricket followed. The Pakistan Cricket Board, too, has reservations.

More than England and Australia, the BCB decision is a setback for India, particularly Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) president Narayanswamy Srinivasan.

Owing to his mother’s death, the supremely ambitious Srinivasan won’t attend the executive board meeting. An aide informed that the BCCI secretary, Sanjay Patel, would represent him.

A teleconference isn’t ruled out.

That Srinivasan won’t be there in person should “encourage” the ‘smaller’ Boards to speak up.

Footnote: It’s learnt that the powers-that-be in Bangladesh were told that any decision which hurts the BCCI’s game plan wouldn’t be seen as anti-India in New Delhi as the government has practically nothing to do with the body headed by Srinivasan.