Indian Cricket League September 16, 2008

Bashar leads Bangladesh exodus



Dhaka Warriors: Alok Kapali, Shahriar Nafees, Dhiman Ghosh and Habibul Bashar © AFP

The exodus of 13 players from Bangladesh to the Indian Cricket League - and into virtual exile from all official cricket - has been formalised with the unveiling in New Delhi of the Dhaka Warriors. The team, which will compete in the second season of (ICL) from October 10, will be led by Habibul Bashar, the former national captain, and includes recent internationals Aftab Ahmed, Alok Kapali, Shahriar Nafees, Farhad Reza, Dhiman Ghosh and Mosharraf Hossain.

The ICL's latest signings, who will be coached by Balwinder Sandhu, the former India player, include four players who have represented Bangladesh in the past - retired left-arm spinner Mohammad Rafique, Tapash Baisya, Manjural Islam and Mohammad Sharif. The others are Golam Mabud, a reserve wicketkeeper after Ghosh, and Mahbubul Karim, part of the Bangladesh Academy team currently touring Sri Lanka.

The move is likely to have a significant impact on Bangladesh cricket, and the recruits have drawn the anger of their fans, some of whom have even labelled them 'traitors'. Bashar reiterated the ICL stance - players contracted are free to turn out for their country . "ICL never asked us to stop playing for our country," he said as the ICL launched their second season. "That is the main reason we joined the ICL. Perhaps people back home haven't understood properly."

Bashar was the first to be introduced as one by one each 'warrior' came on to the stage, dressed in green tee-shirts and dark slacks, with a sword in hand and a smile on the face. While a personal statement for each, it was also a show of strength for the league, which has faced many a hurdle since its inception. Kapil Dev, India's World Cup-winning captain and now chairman of the ICL's executive board, said he wanted to see these players represent Bangladesh, and be part of the league when away from national duty.

"They have come here to make their life," he said. "How can you stop anybody not to play cricket? How can you stop people from not getting educated as cricket was education for me. If somebody says you only play with one set of people then that is wrong. We are not in apartheid era."

Nafees, who at one point was seen as a potential successor to Bashar as Bangladesh captain, said he had the freedom to make his choice. "The player has all the right to choose what he has to do," he said. "I still believe I can play for my country. ICL is a new and unique concept to promote players, to train young guys and make them better cricketers. So I would like to take this opportunity and show what I can do."

He downplayed the monetary significance of joining the league. "As a cricketer my first and love is to play cricket," he said. "When I was growing up money was always secondary. I've sacrificed ten years of my life to play at the highest level."

The departure of Nafees, Aftab and Kapali will severely dent Bangladesh's batting, while Dhiman Ghosh was their first-choice wicketkeeper during the ODI series in Australia. Farhad Reza had played 32 one-dayers since his debut in July 2006 and left-arm spinner Mosharraf Hossain featured in the home ODIs against South Africa earlier in the year.

The ICL have also signed two of Bangladesh's most experienced players in Bashar and Rafique. Bashar is Bangladesh's most-capped Test player with 50 matches. He led the team in 18 of those, including the country's only Test win over Zimbabwe in 2005 and in the 2007 World Cup, where they scored upset wins over India and South Africa. For long the mainstay of Bangladesh's batting, Bashar had fallen out of favour in the past year, and was disappointed with the lack of support he got, especially from current coach Jamie Siddons.

Rafique, Bangladesh's leading wicket-taker in Tests and ODIs, had announced his retirement ahead of the South Africa's visit, but later said he had done it as a "mark of protest". He said in an interview: "It's better to leave before getting humiliated at the hands of some people who prevented me from playing Test cricket for two years."

The Dhaka Warriors will be the ICL's second city-based team to feature players from a single country, after the Lahore Badshahs, consisting of only Pakistan players, performed splendidly on the field and more importantly gained a following among viewers, especially in Pakistan. The two teams will play alongside seven other sides in the ICL 20s Championship. The tournament will be held across four venues - Ahmedabad, Hyderabad, Gurgaon and Panchkula - and will be followed by the ICL World Series, during which the players from the Lahore Badshahs and Dhaka Warriors will take part as the Pakistan and Bangladesh XIs respectively.

Dhaka Warriors: Habibul Bashar (capt), Aftab Ahmed, Shahriar Nafees, Alok Kapali, Dhiman Ghosh (wk), Farhad Reza, Manjural Islam, Golam Mabud (wk), Mahbubul Karim, Mohammad Rafique, Mohammad Sharif, Mosharraf Hossain, Tapash Baisya .

Nagraj Gollapudi is an assistant editor at Cricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Mohammed on September 18, 2008, 8:07 GMT

    Dear Bangalore Kid, If all TV channels create their own T20 league cricketers will be benefited, and few channels will make profit, all TV channels will not. Among all the TV channels' T20 league, people will choose the best league, like they usually see the most popular channels. Always you have to earn by competition, like survival for the fittest. No infrastructure is made solely by BCCI, but they want to grab all the benefits without any competition which is absolutely ridiculous in this super competitive free economy world. I am sure and hopeful BCCI and ICC will be compelled to do negotiations with this type of leagues otherwise it will be total madness this type of unhealthy situations will be happened again and again. Hope I made you understand.

  • Fahim on September 18, 2008, 2:31 GMT

    Nice job! I hope they play better in the ICL than they played for BD team. People who are calling them traitors are a bunch of clowns and are just jealous. :). Like everyone else in BD is doing so much for their country!!

  • Shubhakar on September 18, 2008, 1:53 GMT

    No doubt BCCI is the richest cricket board but it is not going in right direction because of some of the board members. ICL is not for money, the thought behind ICL is to promote cricket and make cricket as a profession for cricketers. The same thought had been done by Kerry Packer four decades earlier, at that time Packer was treated as a rebellion but now world cricket is going on his way. Mr Subhas Chopra is also a media tycoon and he is capable of starting a parallel world cricket body which will disturb the cricket bodies. It is my opinion that ICC will come forward and resolve the dispute between BCCI and ICL, otherwise ICC will be main loser. In world cricket only BCCI is capable to pay handsome amount to their cricketers. Other cricket boards are not so rich. If a player of any country got handsome money definitely he will change his loyalty. If a player is not getting handsome amount to run his family needs, what will he do?

  • Ravish on September 17, 2008, 19:08 GMT

    To all people advocating for ICC to recongnize ICL, would you also then advocate for each TV channel owner to have his own cricket league comprised of some arbitrarily formed teams representing each country? If Zee can form their own league and get recognized by ICC, why not ESPN, Star Sports, Sony, or NEO sports? Why not cricinfo have their own cricket league with 12 teams whom they claim represents 12 countries and have about 15 world cups each year for each of these leagues - all in T20 format? They don't have to build their own players. They can just poach players developed by other boards and make profits off of them. Are you guys okay with 12 T20 world cups each year? Think it through. Just because you are mad at BCCI for some reason does not justify your reasoning that ICC should approve ICL. It is a free country. Zee can form its own league. It does not mean that ICC has to recongnize it. If it does, you will many more channels starting their own leagues and playing world cups.

  • Ambuj on September 17, 2008, 16:12 GMT

    Why should World Cricket suffer for BCCI's arrogance ?

    Its pretty shameful that ICC is not taking a stance and recognizing ICL. How much more should other boards suffer for BCCI..

  • g on September 17, 2008, 8:51 GMT

    Guys, think about it. ICL in a way has brought in the 'need' factor to BCB. Now they are forced to deploy proper infrastructure and care to attract talent better than ICL would attempt. This will only benefit Bangladesh. Until now BCB had nothing to fear and nothing to deliver.

  • Mohammed on September 17, 2008, 7:55 GMT

    Well done Bashar and Company, I am not angry with Bangladeshi players or the Bangladesh Cricket Board, rather I am angry with ICC and specially BCCI controlling people. For these two cricket body Bangladeshi players and Bangladesh Cricket Board have fallen in a bad situation. ICC and BCCI should pay for all these happenings. Cricket is game, and all the players have the right to play it for his country and also for other local/international teams according to his will. I think Human Rights Organisation like Amnesty International should sue against BCCI and ICC for all these previous happenings.

  • Deen on September 17, 2008, 7:51 GMT

    Well I would not personally blame the Bangladeshi cricketers for choosing the ICL after being sidelined by their cricket board in such a manner. The same way I dont blame Pakistani Cricketers such as Imran Nazir, Muhammad Sami etc for choosing the ICL as their Career with the national side was made uncertain through regular exclusion from side and a central contract. I personally agree, that it is about time the ICC takes the initiative and takes the matter up with full practicality with the BCCI. Due to BCCI's stubborn attitude towards the ICL and ICL Associated Cricketers, they have destroyed the careers of many cricketers and have deprived them of their livelihood as well, by forcibly getting other boards to not permit those cricketers to even play for domestic cricket. Because of the BCCI, they are being deprived of their bread and butter. I think the real problem is,ICL was a good idea and the BCCI are just pissed off because they couldnt come up with such a great idea.

  • Shahnewaz on September 17, 2008, 7:51 GMT

    I have one request. Please cut Dhaka from "Dhaka Warriors". Because they are not Bangladeshi from now.

  • Omar on September 17, 2008, 5:10 GMT

    I think the Bangladeshi players have done the right thing and have exercised their freedom of choice by joining the ICL. Everyone should have the freedom to choose their profession, short of illegal, immoral or unethical behavior. The Cricket Board in Bangladesh (BCB) is a despotic and inept entity, hogging the credit when the team does well and blaming the players and disavowing all responsibility when it does not. The selection of the team has often been arbitrary and there seems to be a system of rewarding some players and punishing others, such as Rafiq, Pilot and Bashar, even if and when they are deserving. The blame for the debacle lies entirely with the Board and the officials. They should all be shown the door and a wholesale change with more enlightened, fair and sensitive, considerate replacements should be undertaken immediately.

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