Cracks have emerged in the BCB's investigation into two controversial lower-tier league matches held last month in the Dhaka Second Division League. Documents obtained by ESPNcricinfo suggest that one of the players and a coach, who were punished and accused of "tarnishing the image of Bangladesh cricket", were not given a fair hearing by the three-member inquiry committee formed by the Bangladesh board.
On May 2, the BCB had approved a report that concluded that Lalmatia Club and Fear Fighters Sporting Club should be scratched from the league, bowlers Sujon Mahmud and Tasnim Hasan be banned for 10 years each and the captains, managers and coaches of the two teams be handed five-year suspensions. The board also imposed a six-month ban on umpires Shamsur Rahman and Azizul Bari for their inability to handle the matches properly.
While announcing the verdict, the committee's convener Sheikh Sohel said that the clubs never complained against these two umpires or raised any issues on umpiring in general. However, letters obtained by ESPNcricinfo show that BCB directors were aware of umpiring complaints and had even exchanged memos on the issue during the 2015-16 season.
In a letter dated April 22, 2016, the chairman of the Cricket Committee of Dhaka Metropolis (CCDM) - the BCB body that runs the four-tier Dhaka league - had written to the BCB's committee of umpires, urging that in response to verbal complaints made by the participating clubs, nine umpires should be barred from officiating. Among them, were Shamsur and Azizul.
Sohel said the clubs never expressed their displeasure to the committee about poor umpiring standards. "I want to ask a question to the club officials: why didn't they give us a letter if this was happening for such a long time? Why didn't they tell the umpires' committee? Also, these two umpires did other matches too, why didn't anything similar happen in those games?"
Sailab Hossain Tutul, the member secretary of the umpires' committee, said the clubs are required to address their grievances to the umpires' committee but many of the clubs are aware of the protocol of making all their complaints to the CCDM, which has been followed for decades.
He also claimed that Shamsur and Azizul were assigned 10 matches to preside over together this season, primarily because of their mutual understanding with each other. Tutul, however, admitted that no other umpiring pair was allocated as many games to officiate together in through this season.
"If a club has any complaints about an umpire, they have to directly address to the umpires' committee," Tutul said in a May 5 interview to the Bengali daily Prothom Alo. "Other [umpires] are also paired, but not to such an extent. Maybe the umpires' allotment committee didn't think too deeply about it. We try to appoint pairs who are comfortable with each other."
It is understood that Shamsur and Azizul were given lighter punishments in the May 2 verdict because neither of the two teams under scrutiny - Lalmatia and Fear Fighters - submitted written complaints. However, it has now emerged that Lalmatia bowler Sujon, captain Faisal Ahmed Bonik and coach Asadullah Khan had written statements submitted to the BCB's Anti-Corruption and Security Unit on April 18.
Sujon wrote that the umpires didn't allow their captain to see whether the coin fell in favour of Lalmatia's call at the toss, and that when Sujon had got off the mark with a boundary, one of the umpires came up to him and asked him to get out on his own, failing which the umpire threatened to "take charge". Sujon claimed that his dismissal - stumped - was unjust as he was well within the crease.
Biplob, the Lalmatia coach, wrote that he had arrived at the ground after the match had already begun. In a separate interview to the Bengali daily Kaler Kantho, he said it was Lalmatia's assistant coach who was in charge of the match against Fear Fighters as Biplob himself was occupied with umpiring in an indoor tournament nearby, organized by a company owned by Akram Khan, one of the members of the fact-finding committee. However, when Biplob finally reached the City Club Ground, he found his side struggling at 20 for 6 and was subsequently informed by his captain that he wasn't allowed to see the coin at the toss.
"Being utterly disappointed with the unethical proceedings, I left the field and later came to know the outcome," wrote Biplob.
He said even though he didn't appear at his hearing in person, he was told to await a call from the fact-finding committee. Upon receiving the verdict, Biplob said he was surprised to have been handed a five-year ban despite neither being present at the ground nor having given a statement to the committee.
That turn of events was similar for the Fear Fighters captain Tanumoy Ghosh, who was down with jaundice in his hometown Rajshahi during the hearing. Like Biplob, he, too, was told to wait for communication from the committee, but he never received any. It is understood that Ghosh was punished on the basis the statement by Tasnim, the bowler who had deliberately conceded 69 runs in 1.1 overs.
Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent. @isam84