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January 12, 2003, 01:28 PM
Problems for Bangladesh are not all on the field
Ralph Dellor - 12 January 2003

With all the attention of politicians currently centred on Zimbabwe and the ICC poised to examine security aspects of staging World Cup matches there and in Kenya, another serious instance of politics interfering with cricket has come to light. The headlines might have been focused on the unacceptable aspects of the Mugabe regime in Zimbabwe, but the situation in Bangladesh is, it seems, little better.

President Robert Mugabe was at least invited to become patron of the Zimbabwe Cricket Union. Reports from Bangladesh suggest that the ruling coalition has overthrown the elected directors of the Bangladesh Cricket Board and installed their own cronies to run cricket in the country.

The parallel changes in government and cricket administration are nothing new, especially in parts of Asia, but the system appears to have been taken to excess in Bangladesh. Ali Asghar is a member of parliament belonging to the Bangladesh Nationalist Party. He was nominated to the post of president of the BCB after the general elections in late 2001.

Although he is the president, the Board itself is dominated by Arafat Rahman, who is the younger of the two sons of Prime Minister Begum Khaleda Zia. It is alleged that Koko, as Arafat Rahman is known, and his friends are instrumental in decision-making and running the Board. Ali Asghar apparently acts as a front man and seldom goes against the wishes of Koko, as he owes his political entity to the Prime Minister. It is also thought that he is involved in some significant business deals conducted on behalf of the Prime Minister's two sons.

Out of a board of 25 elected directors, it appears that only four are allowed to operate effectively. Apart from Arafat Rahman, there is a further member of parliament, the son of another and the brother of yet another. The other elected members are all forced to assume a passive role in the knowledge that those who have spoken out against this government intervention have either been threatened with repercussions or have actually become the victims of violence.

Even so, three have gone to the courts in an attempt to restore democratic principles to Bangladeshi cricket, and have been punished for doing so. Further threats hang over them should they not withdraw their petition from the courts.

Such threats should not be taken lightly in Bangladesh. There are reports of government-controlled terror tactics being unleashed on the opposition parties and free thinkers almost every day. Thousands have been arrested, among them university professors, journalists and intellectuals. A Reuters journalist and two other foreign journalists – a Briton and an Italian on assignment from Channel 4 - were jailed for allegedly "plotting against Bangladesh"

Some 45 people have died at the hands of the army in the last three months, with the widely-held belief that they were victims of torture and other unexplained treatment. The government states that they all died of heart attacks.

Among those currently being detained is the former president of the Bangladesh Cricket Board and a government minister himself in the previous administration, Saber Hossain Chowdhury. He has been detained twice in three months and is currently facing charges of treason for "lowering the image of Bangladesh in the world."

Saber Chowdhury was largely instrumental in the campaign that resulted in the elevation of Bangladesh to Test status. He was a national hero at the time among the cricket-loving Bangladeshis, but his political activities have been used by the present government to erode that support.

His "crime" was to research and publish allegations that extremist and fundamentalist Islamic militant groups are operating in Bangladesh and that they have close links with the present government. He was also accused of masterminding a series of terrorist outrages himself as a result of a telephone call with the arrested Reuters man.

Quite obviously there are forces at large in Bangladesh that might not be acceptable to many observers, but whatever internal politics are involved is not the concern of the cricket community. The interference with the Bangladesh Cricket Board is.

When similar tactics were applied to the Bangladesh Football Federation, FIFA stepped in and stripped Bangladesh of its membership with an ultimatum that the elected federation be reinstated or face a ban from international as well as club football. The government was humiliated and forced to return the administration of the BFF to the elected body.

The same is not happening with cricket. The ICC has not yet taken similar steps and is unlikely to unless there is a formal complaint from those who feel there has been injustice. The policy is to accept any notified changes to a country's board until such time as any alleged wrongdoing is brought to their attention, at which time there could be an ICC investigation.

That allegation will come from a member of the Bangladesh Board, Mubasshar Hussain. Currently in England recovering from heart surgery, he says that he does not want to initiate any process now in case such action distracts the players in the national team. However, this former freedom fighter during the liberation war that resulted in independence from Pakistan will lodge that formal complaint once the World Cup campaign comes to an end.

The situation for Saber Chowdhury is not as simple. Amnesty International has expressed anxiety at the way political prisoners like him are being held in Bangladesh. A spokesman for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in London said, "We are concerned about reports from Bangladesh and we have made the point to the authorities there through our High Commission in Dhaka that we expect all detainees to be held according to international norms."

There are plenty of examples in the world of injustice and the suspension of human and democratic rights. That does not make them acceptable to civilised society but they have to be accepted, however reluctantly. Nevertheless, cricket in Bangladesh has enough problems in coming to terms with its status as a Test nation. It would stand a better chance of succeeding on the field if problems off it were resolved.

© Cricinfo

January 12, 2003, 02:56 PM
Nothiing beats this:

Some 45 people have died at the hands of the army in the last three months, with the widely-held belief that they were victims of torture and other unexplained treatment. The government states that they all died of heart attacks.

I guess now there is going to be a warrant out for Mr. Dellor. :)
That FIFA sanction was really a good thing. However, ICC is a much weaker body. Look at the problems with Zimbabwe and Kenya hosting matches or the row over sponsorship. ICC just doesn't have any backbone.

January 12, 2003, 04:28 PM
I agree with most of what was written - in principle !

However, like always, I question their motivation ??

The Brits will simply never like what you do - how many of you remember Mr. Ershad taking a stand against the SA background players who had infested the England A team before there tour of BD in 1986 ? The govt. literally threw those racist punks out before the tour even began !

And how many of you remember the consequent raving and ranting, and condesending tactics, laden with colonial tirade, that the British press had lunched against, no, not Mr. Ershad, but the good for nothing, squalor full country of Bangladesh !! No, I'm not exaggerating - those are literally the types of words that they used.

January 12, 2003, 05:33 PM
A friend told me long time age -

No important Bangladeshi subject can be free of politics......

I had forgotten about this. Now I remember. I didn't know even 1% of this!

Distance is really a big factor. I came to this website to discuss CRICKET, but it turns out to be that same old POLITICS.....

I can't write much
When there is too much to write
I look at a distance
Try to find something bright
Look at a big tree
Try to measure its height
Think about Bangladesh
Try to figure out when the time will be right

At the moment, my mood is UDASHI

January 12, 2003, 05:35 PM
Its good to see that some people outside the country are beginning to notice all our problems. Whatever Dellor's motivations are (i dont think they are sinister at all), he has said all the right things. This is the kind of stuff that BCB should be reading everyday.

Sadly, nothing will get fixed and we will have to live in frustration for a very long time.

[Edited on 12-1-2003 by Piranha]

January 12, 2003, 06:12 PM
Just my thoughts again -


We really are not talking about our own political affiliations here. So, it really isn't dirty. Please don't get grossed out !! This is only the proverbial 2 cents worth analysis of how badly everything in bd can succumb to dirty, undemocratic politics- which everybody (including h_fan) is well aware of. This is only our way to kill some time between tests. Please suggest something else you would like us to bring to this forum in between test series, that has some indirect bearing to this great game our country is trying to do well at. I'm sure Tehsin win't mind. And if I have some knowledge of it, I might try to add a few words here and there.

2. To Piranha : Sure, people outside the country (both deshis and bedeshis) know very well of our problems, and that, besides the lack of resources, dirty politics is the main reason behind them. So, what do we do now, keep on ranting with vulgarities. For example, what's all this about Mr. Mugabe of Zimbabwe being the Mr. evil of today ? Do you know, when in 1981, black Zimbabweans were fighting to gain political freedom (aka Independence, like that in BD in 1971), the army backed by SA merceneries drove masses north across the Zambian border, and then the airforce flew cross border sorties to bomb those refugees.

Now, let me make this very clear - I'm not any kind of anti- english, anti-sadhaa, etc etc. My point here is only that, we in BD all know of our problems, and just because we live somewhere in the UK or USA does not give us any rights to be able to separately criticize our leaders, nor does it give us the added virtue of being able to criticize and recognise our countries drawbacks, more then others. Those leaders are just like your and my fathers, mothers..we did not go and by them in the moon that we can say - darn it, we're just stuck with a bad deal here. We as individuals, in BD, and outside, need to set examples of tolerance, civility, and most importantly, professionalism. Easier said then done, because, early in th e90s I saw my BD friends in the US preach these same things, and yet go back to Dhaka over Summer vacations, and break ..........yeah, folks who did A'levels, or went to Dhaka college !!

So, Mr. Dellos, please spare us all your BS. Go write about the queen or something, and all her subjects.

As for folks like me and you Piranha, I guess we'll have to just deal with every challenge in our lives and try to react just the way we desire our politicians to behave. Collectively, then only will things change.

Saying all that, you all are my dearest brothers (and sisters), even h_fan. No, you're my "mate."


[Edited on 12-1-2003 by Pundit]

January 12, 2003, 06:19 PM
When the BNP came to power this time, I along with many were filled with hope of a govt. that will finally bring some sense of normalcy to the country. With the recent military drive and then the indemnity handed to them, the idea of having a govt. that can be held accountable for its action seems like a distant dream now. The sad thing is when I talk to friends and family in Bangladesh they all seem to have become immune to the corruption and injustice in the country. They have seen it for so long that they feel helpless to speak out anymore. Now they just shut up and move on with life. I wonder how the Bangladesh govt. today is any different from the dictators of the past and present. Their stand is: we will try to improve the country the way we think is right and if you are victem of our "greater goal" then tough luck!

The way cricket or any other sporting institution is run in the country is a joke. It's like one big mafia...the godfather's wishes must be carried out at all costs.

And Pundit, with all due respect, countries that advocate reform in Bangladesh may have been slavedrivers or segregationists a 100, 50 or even 20 years ago but that doesn't make their arguments any less valid. England may have supported Apartheid in the past but, like most western nations, the country has gone through some drastic reforms in the last 50 years. The concerns that were mentioned in the Cricinfo article have been echoed in the Bangladeshi media for some time. The only difference now is that news of it is starting to leak to the rest of the world. I would rather have outside influences bring some changes to the country than suffer under the illusion that one day all Bangladeshis will rise up against the corruption and injustice.

As far as Zimbabwe is concerned, just because atrocities were committed against the blacks in 1981 by mercenaries and a racist govt., it does not give the Robert Mugabe, the president and head of a "democratic" government to carry out systematic land grabbing, rape, torture and murder of white farmers, whose ancestors have been in Zimbabwe for decades and most of whom had nothing to do with conflicts with blacks. If the world is turn a blind eye and say it's ok for tit for tat killings to go on then where does it all end?!

[Edited on 13-1-2003 by Ockey]

January 12, 2003, 07:12 PM
This is ridiculous! So the biggest article on Bangladesh cricket is about Bangladesh politics. I do not necessarily disagree with the points being made. But cricinfo is not the forum for that. Do they even know the names of all our players? They certainly seem to know the names of the politicians.

I wish some of these "experts" had written an analysis of Bangladesh's true cricketing problems - such as dearth of talent, limited grounds etc.

January 12, 2003, 08:02 PM
In your last paragraph -

"If the world is turn a blind eye and say it's ok for tit for tat killings to go on then where does it all end?! "

First, let me thank you for your response. I am already learning.

About your sentence in quotation above, I have just one question to you -


Have you ever heard of IAN SMITH ?? He was Zimbabwe's (formerly RHODESIA) Prime Minister in 1981 !! You should be asking him that !!! Why did he, and not me, think of what you mentioned above ?

Just so that I understand you, hypothetically speaking, say Mr. Y comes from the neverland of Aragon, and forcibly throws your family out of your home in Dhaka. Your father's home !!

20 years later - you get your opportunity to reclaim it. What will you do ??

But Ockey, I know you better - you are the decent guy who does not play tit for tat. You will probably make sure that whoever lives their then gets atleast a room to keep on living. I know you will do that , and that's why you are a better man than either Ian Smith or Mugabe.

Thank You.

[Edited on 13-1-2003 by Pundit]

[Edited on 13-1-2003 by Pundit]

January 12, 2003, 08:42 PM
Can we end this ? :)

January 12, 2003, 11:29 PM
You guys started and ended this without me getting a word in! Actually I don't have much to add except:

1) i disagree with tehsin, in that i think the main statement of that article, and what we could take away, ponder, discuss, etc (and actually did only yesterday in another thread) is:

"whatever internal politics are involved is not the concern of the cricket community. The interference with the Bangladesh Cricket Board is. "


January 13, 2003, 12:29 AM
as reported on wisden:

Arjuna Ranatunga has won support from the Supreme Court in Colombo in his attempt to enter the politics of sport. Ranatunga, who aspired to head Sri Lanka’s cricket board, had appealed against a proposed sports law that would decree that politicians cannot hold office in sports bodies. He termed it a “violation of his fundamental rights”, and the court agreed. (Jan 10)

January 13, 2003, 07:14 AM
I completely agree with Cricket46.

Kothay Cricinfo playerder photo sessioner chobi tulbe, sheta BD Crcinfo page e post korbe ta na, ora shudhumatro Daily Starer akta report post korei khalash. Ashchoryo.

Amra Cricinfo site-e jai Bangladesher Cricketer khobor jante, aaar amra BBC or CNN e jai politics ba onyo kono serious news jante - athocho eta akdom ulta jinish holo.

Akhon BBC Sports page-i onek info day ja ontoto Cricinfo theke onek bhalo and anek taratari.

January 13, 2003, 08:43 AM

I suddenly became UDASHI knowing that POLITICS was hovering over BANGLADESH CRICKET, a subject I am so passionate about.

There is only one major sport we have. One for which we are known internationally (and in the world's TOP TEN.)

Let our CRICKET travel in it own natural way
That's all I have to say.

January 13, 2003, 12:27 PM
End this, Tehsin ?

I think not !! Your own posting (2nd one in this thread) opened up the pandoras box. Sorry, I can't help but post my feelings, just like you do. If the sheer size is an issue, let me know. I'll then limit myself to a line.

Until then, those bouncers will be coming.


January 13, 2003, 05:03 PM
We've played in MORA pitches all our lives, we have no clue how to handle the bouncers. WHATEVER SHOULD A BD CRICKET FAN DO ? :)