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Cricket news - Villain Shakib and Bangladesh's systemic mess

Will there be a cleansing of the system?

Will there be a cleansing of the system?

Shakib Al Hasan has once more set the cricket fraternity buzzing with clips of his rage-filled on-field behaviour during a match in the Dhaka Premier League on June 11 receiving universal scorn on social media and also earning him a fine along with a three-match ban.

The veteran all-rounder's behaviour, while condemned universally, may have inadvertently exposed a deeper malaise in the Bangladesh system.

Shakib, who is not regular in domestic cricket apart from taking part in Bangladesh Premier League, had had a reality check of sorts during his Dhaka Premier League campaign playing for Mohammedan Sporting, an institution with not enough of a cricketing heritage to dictate terms to the Bangladesh Cricket Board like their arch-rivals Abahani Limited, who are backed by Beximco Limited - a corporate house that essentially runs the sport in the country.

Beximco owns several clubs in the different tiers of the domestic tournament and have often been alleged to be using umpires as a tool to influence the fate of the game. The match officials too are constantly blamed for dancing to the tunes of Beximco, who promise them more matches in the domestic leagues and thereby better pay.

In the new Bangladesh system, certain powerful clubs not only seek favours for their teams but also make sure that they manipulate other games to ensure like-minded clubs are placed comfortably in the structure. Officials from these clubs that have backed BCB Chief Nazmul Hasan's candidature in the past and would be expected to do the same when he'll run for a third term this October.

Umpires and officials have been known to be affiliated to certain clubs and have even openly favoured some teams over the other, disturbing the whole notion of refereeing ethics. The rot, it would seem, has only spread further.

Imran Parvez Ripon and Mahfuzur Rahman Litu officiated the high voltage match between Abahani and Mohammedan Sporting, an ego grudge match for the powers that be at the board level. Incidentally, the pair of umpires have officiated in the maximum number of Abahani's games. In normal cases international umpires are expected to conduct these matches but their reluctance to conduct these matches tells a story. "We are not comfortable officiating those matches," a reputed umpire told Cricbuzz.

"It's true, Shakib behaved in an inappropriate manner but he is not used to seeing this kind of umpiring, isn't it," a team mate of Shakib questioned.

The Bangladesh Cricket Board stands to look bad from multiple fronts. First is their repeated failure to discipline their star player, Shakib, away from controversies. The 34-year-old has previously been suspended by BCB for six months in 2014 for attitude problems that included a lewd gesture on TV, beating a spectator in the stadium and travelling to Caribbean Premier League without a clearance.

Shakib was also banned by the International Cricket Council for two years in 2019, with one year of that suspended, due to his failure to report corrupt approaches from a bookie.

This time around, Shakib is one of the two problems at hand. The other being a systemic cleansing of domestic cricket in the country. Nazmul has suggested that he is open to a top-down clean-up job. "I am receiving calls from all over the world as the incident is spread across the globe and at times I am not even receiving phone calls because it is highly embarrassing," Nazmul was quoted in Jamuna TV.

"I think there is no point playing this domestic cricket unless we can solve this problem [umpiring bias] because it has crossed every barrier," he said. If this is the case then I am not interested to play domestic cricket because people say that everything is fixed and predetermined. Then what is the point in playing this game?

"Let's stop the game and get a solution. Because we are spending around 10 Lakh USD ( BDT Eight Crores) extra to host this tournament, what is the point."

Incidentally, Nazmul said board inaction in the past has been a function of no official complaints as yet. "They cannot show me anything because no one complains. If you don't complain then against whom can we take action. Still, I have said that keep records. It's not like someone will complain and we will give punishment," he said.

Only time will tell if BCB can make any headway towards fixing their stables or hide behind their pantomime villain again.