July 11, 2014

In defence of Nazmul Hassan

If boards must be incompetent, the least they can do is communicate their incompetence in an entertaining way

"The kind of support I often receive is unprecedented in the history of the world" © BCB

Let's be very honest. Cricket administrators generally have all the flair of a beige sock. ICC chairman N Srinivasan does his best to provoke controversy, of course, but gone are the times when men such as Ijaz Butt gave journalists enough material in one interview to write a book (most likely an imaginative work of fiction). Even though the ECB's top brass have recently caused a lot of controversy, this has ironically been due to their attempts to avoid it by using language with a waffle content roughly equivalent to that of a chubby Belgian's kitchen cupboard. Team ethos? Pass the syrup and cream.

So it's with open arms and ears we should welcome this week's rhetorical tour de force of Nazmul Hassan, president of the Bangladesh Cricket Board and hyperbolic hero of our sanitised times. Faced with having to explain why the BCB has banned Shakib Al Hasan from all cricket for six months and lucrative overseas tournaments for a wallet-weeping 18, Hassan described the star's recent alleged conduct towards his team-mates and coach as "cruel", "inhuman" and "unprecedented in the history of Bangladesh cricket". If the BCB head honcho was ever given a media-training manual, it's likely he only ever used it to line his cat's litter tray.

Some have been quick - and, to be fair, correct - to suggest Hassan was a little bit over the top, but the BCB president should also be commended for his language being unfashionably unburdened by circumspection in this airbrushed, media-trained age. He might come across as a swivel-eyed Victorian schoolmistress who has just discovered some racy lithographs in the desk of one of her students, but look how much more exciting these recent rows between boards and players would have been if our florid-tongued warrior had been involved:

1) Sunil Narine banned from playing for West Indies for taking part in the IPL instead of attending a training camp

The WICB's dull explanation: "International cricket, and specifically Test cricket, is a priority and requires dedicated preparation which is integral to team success. The WICB policy requires players to commit to sufficient preparation... as part of a culture of excellence."

Hassan's hypothetical, hyperbolic alternative: "The sky shall weep from Kolkata to the Caribbean over Sunil's decision. The man would make Beelzebub blush. He is evil and must be stopped before he strikes again. Actually, can someone get me the number for Gitmo, please?"

2) Mahela and Sangakkara accuse SLC of bad-mouthing them over their retirement plans

SLC's dull response: "SLC considers such statements as damaging to both the image of the institution and the officials concerned."

Hassan's hypothetical, hyperbolic alternative: "These two once-honourable men have formed an axis of evil previously unheard of in the history of humanity. Their words make birds fall dead from the sky and rivers turn to acid. I'm not being melodramatic."

3) English cricket's sacking of Kevin Pietersen

The ECB's dull statement: "We must support Alastair Cook in creating a culture in which we can be confident he will have the full support of all players, with everyone pulling in the same direction and able to trust each other."

Hassan's hypothetical, hyperbolic alternative: "I don't think Straussy went far enough, to be honest."

Okay, fine. SLC calling Mahela and Sanga an "axis of evil" might possibly be ever so slightly counter-productive in the court of public opinion, but it would be nice if cricket's leaders freed themselves from the shackles of the corporate-communications straitjacket just a tiny bit. If boards must be incompetent, the least they can do is follow the BCB president's lead and communicate their incompetence in a reasonably entertaining way. It's no exaggeration - well, certainly not on the Hassan scale of things - to say that cricket's very future will be destroyed if they don't.

James Marsh writes Pavilion Opinions. He is also a Tefl teacher whose students learn superlatives by being shown Graham Thorpe videos