The charming amateurism of the Bangladesh board
Professionalism has its place. For example, if I want to sue a television company for continuing to screen the American show "How I Met Your Mother" despite the publication of a recent study proving that exposure to this programme can cause nausea, vomiting, dizziness, high-blood pressure and psychosis; I hire a lawyer, not a member of the cast of "Law and Order". Similarly, if I'm rushed to hospital with an angry appendix, I want to be probed by a professional scalpel-wielder, not an enthusiastic amateur with a vegetable knife.
But appalling American sitcoms and misbehaving body parts are serious matters. Sport is not. Cricket would improve dramatically as a spectacle if it were played by people who didn't particularly care whether they won or lost. Freed from the straitjacket of professionalism, they could play according to their instincts. Viru wouldn't have to restrain himself for the good of the team. Trott could stop fretting about strike rates. Monty could ditch the twirly stuff, come in snarling off a long run and unleash his inner Agarkar.
So those of us who find professionalism a bit of a bore have been hugely encouraged this week to see the Bangladesh board doing their bit to bring back the amateur spirit, not just in their general approach, which recalls the laissez-faire ineptitude of Edwardian England, but also by their not paying anyone for playing cricket. Owais Shah is now a pioneer, a trailblazer. By playing the game just for the love of it, he's bringing about the dawn of the new Golden Age. He's the CB Fry of 21st-century franchise cricket.
Unfortunately, Owais is not happy about being the CB Fry of 21st-century franchise cricket, and wants his money. This is quite the wrong attitude. He should look on this as an opportunity to expand his mental skills. After all, cricket is all about tactics and psychology; it's like sweaty outdoor chess, with swearing. The BCB has merely taken it to the next level. Players have to choose their tweets carefully if they are going to outsmart the board.
Abdur Razzak explains:
"Truth be told, I am not confident about payment. If I say I am confident, I might not get paid, and if I say I won't get paid, they may clear the payment."
It's a delicate business.
The BCB also has a few tricks up their sleeve. Stage one is to swear blind that they definitely posted the money last Wednesday and the post office must have lost it. Stage two is to explain that they are having temporary cash-flow problems but they're waiting for a rather large postal order from the chairman's great aunt and when that arrives, everything will be rosy. Stage three is to hide money sacks in various locations around Dhaka and send Abdur and chums on a treasure hunt, though only one sack has any money in it.
And if all else fails, they can trigger the agricultural-produce clause of the BPL contracts, as they already have for Owais. If he calls home, he'll find that 27 tonnes of rice has been deposited in the front garden of his London residence, and there are two fine-looking pedigree goats tethered to his sports car, compliments of Mr Kamal.
Andrew Hughes is a writer currently based in England