Pont Set To Quit Dhaka Gladiators
Dhaka Gladiators Head Coach, Ian Pont, whose team won the inaugural BPL competition, is set to quit the franchise over ongoing problems with payments since the event finished in February this year.
Pont, who has a two-year contract with the team, has been frustrated in his dealings with The Shihab Trading Company, part of the Europa Group, who owns the franchise. Many players have faced months of delays getting their full payments from the owners and Pont feels he cannot continue if trust has been lost.
"I am personally missing 50% of my contracted amount and others are still awaiting re-imbursement of flights, expenses and original fees", said Pont. "Pieces of paper kept being produced showing bank transfers by the franchise, but they never took place. Players and staff have been given a whole host of excuses. Deadlines and promises remain broken. The franchise, run by the Chowdhury family, have just stopped communicating. It's not only very sad but totally unprofessional to run a business this way in my view. Worse still, they are bringing Bangladesh cricket itself into some disrepute. The BCB, through no fault of their own, are being forced to pick up the pieces. I trust the BCB when they say they are covering all outstanding debts as the franchise has defaulted and I look forward to this being cleared now for the sake of next year's competition."
Pont says that during the competition itself, lack of payments became so serious that the players had a meeting about not playing the semi-final. "The overseas players came to me and we had an emergency meeting where it felt that boycotting the semi-final was a genuine option. So much money was missing that the guys didn't know what else they could try. But the players did not want to let the BPL down or the fans, which was the right thing to do. I am amazed we remained focused enough to win the whole competition and it's a testament to the players - overseas and local - when the only talk was about payments. It was hard to concentrate on the cricket with such an enormous distraction. After all, this is a not simply a game for the players and staff, but it is their living."
Pont maintains he has a great relationship with the BCB and is keen to come back and defend his title at BPL2.
"As the champion head coach I want to come back and have another crack at winning. Any coach wants to show his skills in managing a team and I love Bangladesh. I think the BPL is a great cricket competition and it definitely helped with lifting the nation's spirits and the local players skills. It's a huge part of why Bangladesh did so well in the Asia Cup and I am proud to have played my part with the success of players like Elias Sunny, Mash and Ashraful. I also get on well with the BCB. So I anticipate returning to hopefully win the BPL again. It just won't be with the Shihab Trading Company's franchise. The fact is you cannot have players worrying if they are going to get their money. It just sends the wrong message."
Pont's team beat the Barisal Burners in the final to win the BPL by 8 wickets.
"One day I was thinking, 'Thank God Sehwag was not born in Bangladesh'. If he was, he would have forgotten how to play cricket" - Tamim Iqbal