BCB dragging its feet over suspect actions
If it hadn't been for the international sanctions on Taskin Ahmed and Arafat Sunny during the World T20, the BCB, by its own admission, would not have taken suspicious bowling actions seriously. The Dhaka Premier Division Cricket League, the domestic one-day tournament that begins on Friday, is the first chance to take a look at the problem but the board has not created its proposed bowlers' review committee yet, and remains relaxed in letting bowlers with illegal actions play in the competition.
There is talk of including a board director, a coach and an umpire in the committee, but the BCB has so far only circulated the draft regulations among the board directors. Upon approval, the BCB CEO Nizamuddin Chowdhury said, "the committee will be formed in two to four days". Apart from this delay, questions have been raised about the permission given to Taskin, Sunny and Sanjit Saha, the offspinner reported during the Under-19 World Cup, to play in the domestic tournament before their bowling actions have been approved even by the BCB.
Taskin and Sunny have been training with their respective clubs since the April 10 players draft, meaning they have had little time to work on their actions. The board hasn't yet mentioned when either of the duo will be prepared to undergo their second bowling-action assessment. Taskin has mentioned recently that he will need eight to ten weeks to get ready, while nothing of the kind has been heard from or about Sunny. Sanjit is said to have worked hard with a local coach without making much progress.
But the problem of suspicious actions is not new to Bangladesh, and isn't limited to these three bowlers. For decades, illegal bowling actions have plagued the domestic competitions, where a lack of technical knowledge, and technology, has hampered proper analysis.
Only after Bangladesh gained Test status in 2000 did the BCB discover that some of its bowlers had kinks in their arms. Just two months after Bangladesh's inaugural Test, the then captain Naimur Rahman, an offspinner, and left-arm spinner Mohammad Rafique were reported by the ICC. In 2004, it was another left-arm spinner, Abdur Razzak, who was reported for a suspect action. He was suspended from bowling in December 2008, before the ICC was satisfied with his action within four months. In 2014 it was Sohag Gazi and Al-Amin Hossain who were suspended and had their bowling bans upturned after successful second assessments.
In domestic cricket, hardly any bowler has had to suffer a prolonged suspension due to a suspect action. The BCB had worked with a few bowlers in 2007 but there was no procedural follow-up. Though umpires have reported bowlers from time to time, the BCB has not taken any concerted action.
BCB director Khaled Mahmud, the former national captain who is now the Bangladesh manager as well as Abahani's head coach, said the board should have taken suspicious bowling actions seriously at least three years ago. "There has been work with suspect bowlers in the past but we should have continued with it," he said. "It would have created a system, possibly we could have built the lab that we are now thinking of. I think now these things will get implemented."
Nazmul Abedeen, the BCB's national game development manager and an experienced coach who has worked with bowlers with suspect actions, said performance is often given more importance than technique in domestic cricket, resulting in more bowlers getting ahead by gaining an undue advantage with suspect actions.
"I think we have been putting a lot of emphasis on performers, without always checking their bowling action," Abedeen said. "I think many bowlers with suspect action get advantage over those with cleaner actions, and when they perform, they get selected. I think this is a lesson for us, and we should take it very seriously."
Soon after Taskin and Sunny were slapped with suspensions during the World T20, the BCB went up in arms. It demanded a review of Taskin's ban while also realising the problem back home. Nazmul Hassan, the BCB president, said last month that the bowling review group would be created soon.
"In our domestic cricket we don't concentrate much with our bowling action that's why many players fall in trouble in international cricket," he said. "We have to review our players' bowling actions. We are creating a group who will monitor these bowlers so that we don't get in trouble in international cricket."
With the final domestic tournament of 2015-16 about to get underway, the proposal still only exists on paper.
Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent. @isam84