<
>

BCB to discuss two-tier Test cricket proposal

Not all in the BCB are convinced that a two-tier system in Test cricket is a good idea The Daily Star/Firoz Ahmed

The BCB directors will meet on Sunday to shape Bangladesh's stance on the proposal to divide Test cricket into two tiers, which is set to be discussed at the ICC's annual conference in Edinburgh later this month.

Bangladesh are ninth in the Test rankings, above only Zimbabwe, and will most likely be in the second tier if the system is adopted in 2019 according to the ICC's proposal.

ESPNcricinfo has learned that the BCB will try and gauge whether the ICC will have a role in forming the FTP under the two-tier system, or whether schedulling will be left to bilateral negotiations as it is at present. The BCB feels that Bangladesh could be vulnerable to a paucity of Tests in the second tier under the current system of schedulling, and would like a guaranteed number of matches - against top-tier teams too - to ensure they have a chance of promotion.

However, not all in the BCB are convinced that those representing the board at the ICC would put up a fight to stop the two-tier system from being implemented.

"The pertinent question that has to be asked to the BCB president and CEO is whether the BCB raised any proposals, amendments or suggestions when Shashank Manohar had asked all members to give views on the FTP," BCB director Ahmed Sajjadul Alam, one of three directors to oppose the Big Three proposal to restructure of the ICC in 2014, told ESPNcricinfo.

Alam was of the opinion that public interest in Bangladesh cricket, along with that of broadcasters and sponsors, would dwindle if the ICC adopted the two-tier system. "The future of international cricket for Bangladesh is going to be dreadful," he said. "Already we now have to qualify for ICC events like the 50-over World Cup and World T20. If we don't qualify for these two ICC events, and at the same time remain a second-tier [Test] side, interest among the public, media, broadcasters and sponsors will be greatly reduced.

"We are facing a huge loss, and we are doing it without even offering a fight. Soon world cricket will go back by several decades to the time when the Imperial Cricket Conference used to run the show, with just six or seven teams playing cricket and teams like Bangladesh waiting in the sidelines for handouts."

Tanjil Chowdhury, another BCB director who opposed the Big Three's proposal two years ago, said the board should be focused on ensuring more matches rather than gaining more money. "I think the BCB will take a decision that will best serve Bangladesh cricket," Chowdhury said. "Two years ago when the Big Three came up with the position paper, the BCB accepted it because they calculated that they would get greater revenue stream. Why does the BCB need more money? I think they have more than enough. I would want to get as many matches as possible."

Chowdhury said the two-tier system wouldn't take cricket forward because he felt expanding the number of teams would dilute Test cricket. "I am against the two-tier system that is being proposed. I think it will pull cricket development backwards. Inclusiveness doesn't work at the games' premium level, which is Test cricket."

The two-tiered system was first mooted in January 2014 as part of the Big Three's proposals - that teams ranked ninth and tenth in Tests would play the Intercontinental Cup. That would have left little room for Bangladesh to play any more Tests against the top-eight countries. Bangladesh's Test captain Mushfiqur Rahim was the only active player to criticise the proposal.