B'desh tries to stop players from joining ICL

The Bangladesh Cricket Board officials, appealing to those players who have not yet joined the rebel ICL, summoned them to a meeting on Monday.

updated: September 19, 2008 17:54 IST
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The Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) officials, appealing to the patriotic sentiments of those players who have not yet joined the rebel Indian Cricket League (ICL), summoned them to a meeting on Monday.

With six top Bangladeshi cricketers already having announced their decision to join ICL, the BCB officials reminded the others players contracted to it of the consequences of joining the ICL, media reports said. Nine players attended the meeting.

They also wanted to know who was pulling the strings on behalf of ICL, New Age newspaper said quoting an unnamed source who had attended the board's meeting.

Another issue that was widely discussed at the meeting was whether the ICL had any role in Bangladesh's disastrous performance in Australia, the source said.

Family pressures are also mounting on the players asking them to desist from leaving the national side for the sake of money, The Daily Star said.

With two of the six "rebel" players - Habibul Bashar and Dhiman Ghosh - already in India to sign agreements with the ICL, the breakaway Indian cricketing body, the BCB mandarins were under tremendous pressure.

Compounding the situation was a demonstration Monday by about 100 cricket fans in front of the BCB office demanding all possible measures to stave off the premature retirement of six cricketers.

The demonstrators urged the six players to change their mind. They left the stadium after a peaceful demonstration that went on for 30 minutes, said a witness.

The BCB has shown the players the domestic and international calendars for the next three years to tell them they can earn about Tk 15 million each ($218,659) playing in those competitions over the period.

Media reports have said that those who join the ICL's "Dhaka Warriors" stand to earn $200,000 in the tournament starting next month.

If they played for the national team, the BCB officials told them of the prospect of playing in the lucrative Indian Premier League and the Twenty20 Champions League.

The players reportedly assured the officials that they will not leave Bangladesh and earn their livelihood playing for the nation.

The officials quoted some players as saying that they were not at all interested in the ICL as it had little credential.

"If I play ICL, I will be shown only on one channel. But I can be watched on many channels all over the world if I play for the national team. I cannot give up the excitement," player Sakib al Hasan was quoted as saying.

"My childhood dream was to play for the national team. I can get both money and honour with it, so there is no question of joining ICL," wicketkeeper Mushfiqur Rahim was quoted as saying.

New Age said in an editorial: "All said and done, the Bangladesh Cricket Board should wake up and realise that unless it can provide better remunerations and better facilities to our players, especially the top players, more and more of them will opt for alternative leagues like the ICL. Instead of complaining about it and demonising the players, it is up to the board to keep them here."