Dhaka league controversy stalls Bangladesh domestic cricket
Only five domestic matches have been played in Bangladesh since the national side's successful Asia Cup campaign, due to a suspension of the Dhaka Premier Division Cricket League that has now run into its second week. A controversy surrounding the clearance letter of Mohammad Yousuf, the former Pakistan batsman, has spiralled into a three-way battle between Victoria Sporting Club, the Bangladesh Cricket Board and the giants, the Mohammedan Sporting Club and Abahani Limited. The conflict has had a big impact on cricket in the country, as the first-class competition, the National Cricket League, also remains in limbo with one round and the final left to play.
Cricket Committee of Dhaka Metropolis (CCDM), the BCB committee that runs the league in the capital, has said they are not in a position to take a decision on the issue. "The board president [Mustafa Kamal] is not in the country and I haven't received any letters from the clubs," Aynul Islam Tiash, the committee's coordinator, told reporters yesterday.
During the Super League match on March 28, Abahani refused to play Victoria after being bowled out for 177 runs in 47.4 overs. Their grouse was the participation of Yousuf, whose clearance was said to be forged though the CCDM had initially endorsed the letter. Mohammedan, which had supposedly provided the clearance letter, denied submitting any letter to the CCDM and immediately made a complaint with regards to his participation. As they raised the red flag, Abahani asked for an explanation and when none was made available by noon, they didn't take the field. Four hours later, match referee Obaydul Haque Azam ruled that Victoria be given two points for Abahani's actions.
The CCDM promptly suspended the league on the same evening and two days later asked the BCB president Mustafa Kamal to take a decision on the matter. During the April 1 board meeting, it was decided that a four-member committee, led by vice president Mahbubul Anam, resolve the issue. A week later, their recommendations were set out at an emergency meeting, and it was decided to restart the league from April 10, endorse the match referee's decision and restrain Yousuf from taking further part in the competition.
But the clubs didn't comply and just a day after the date of resumption was announced, the CCDM resorted to using "inclement weather" as a reason to suspend the league once again. Abahani, on Thursday, demanded that two points be awarded to them as Yousuf has been barred from playing, and that the league restart on April 17. Mohammedan supported Abahani in this matter, while Victoria has asked for an increase the number of foreign players in the XI from three to five as their star players, Shakib Al Hasan and Tamim Iqbal, are away at the Indian Premier League.
There is growing discontent among the other three clubs - Old DOHS Sporting Club, Sheikh Jamal Dhanmondi Club and Gazi Tank Cricketers - while the media and public too have been left bewildered by the issue that has stopped Bangladeshi cricket in its tracks.
Mohammad Isam is senior sports reporter at the Daily Star in Dhaka