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January 10, 2014
Nazmul Hassan, BCB president, hasn't yet made a big statement without backing it with facts. His assertion on the significance of the next three months for Bangladesh, as a result, holds a lot of meaning.
He claims to have crossed the first of many hurdles by convincing Sri Lanka and Pakistan of taking a positive view of their visits to Bangladesh. But most poignantly, he believes that despite their efforts of persuasion, one small incident stands to destroy Bangladesh cricket.
There are obviously two ways to view this statement. The easy route would be to call him unconvinced of Bangladesh's security situation - him of all people giving a negative view of what might happen. There won't be many to blame him. While the political violence has been brought under some control over the past few days, there are no visible guarantees of calm.
A major security assessment will take place later this month when the participating teams of the World Twenty20 will send their security representatives to Dhaka, Chittagong and Sylhet. They arrive on January 20, a week after a two-member security committee of Sri Lanka Cricket will conduct an assessment of their own and deduce whether the Sri Lanka tour will be played in the three venues or not.
There is some trepidation of the political situation in Bangladesh when the security team visits, but, as Hassan said on Friday, it is not entirely up to the BCB to keep Bangladesh safe.
He has called on the entire country to be involved in keeping players and the general environment safe. The BCB may have the strongest security force at their disposal but it will be up to the political parties to ensure a violence-free Bangladesh till at least April 6, when the World Twenty20 final is scheduled to be held in Mirpur.
"We know why the West Indies Under-19 team left in the middle of their tour," Hassan said. "It is because a cocktail exploded near their hotel. If such a thing happens again, it will be all over for Bangladesh. The impact of such an incident in the coming months would be even worse. The BCB cannot control every road and hotel in Bangladesh. It is quite a big country. We cannot stop someone from exploding a cocktail.
"For now, we have done our part but now it is up to the political parties, the government, media and the general public who have to take up the responsibility. We have discussed yesterday how this is the biggest World Cup ever, with 26 teams participating. There are so many tournaments lined up, which in itself is a first-time occurrence. This is a very important time for Bangladesh. If a small incident occurs causing teams to avoid playing here, we will be set back by 15-20 years and destroy our cricket."
At one point during the last few months, Hassan believed that the cricket events would all be shelved: "I basically think that we have done what we needed to do till now. We needed to make them understand that they should come here to play. This was our major challenge.
"To be honest, the situation was so bad here that there was a possibility of them not coming. We will contact the political parties regularly, so that we can work with everyone's cooperation,"
The link between the three events is crucial for the BCB. They had to confirm Sri Lanka to ensure a sense of safety for the Asia Cup, and they expect to host the World Twenty20 if they can host the preceding two events incident-free. But convincing Pakistan seems to be another matter, which Hassan claims has been completed.
"If the Asia Cup isn't held here, the World Twenty20 wouldn't take place," Hassan said. "If Sri Lanka didn't come here, there was a big chance for the Asia Cup to be moved. All of these tournaments are connected. The biggest challenge was Asia Cup because Pakistan had an objection.
"They asked me if we can give them additional security. I told them that we will give all the teams the topmost security. If your security personnel ask us to increase the security, we will provide that. Until yesterday their appearance in Bangladesh was uncertain. After talking to them in Dubai, it seems they will try to come."
PCB chief Najam Sethi's statement also suggests a move forward rather than stalling and not a complete refusal to visit, which was expected in some quarters in Bangladesh.
"BCB has given a formal statement saying the Pakistan team will be provided whatever additional or special security it asked for over and above those for other teams," Sethi told AFP. "We are sending our top security official to Bangladesh to attend an ICC security meeting in January and to review security plans."
There are many hurdles for the BCB. The SLC security team will be the first to enunciate whether an international team can play in Bangladesh in this political climate. They could force the BCB into making concessions but the fans realise that by not seeing international matches in their cities, it is the price to pay for the current situation in the country.
Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent. He tweets hereFeeds: Mohammad Isam
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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