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Bangladesh damaged as much as Pakistan

Bangladesh's tour of Pakistan has been postponed by at least four weeks at the eleventh (twelfth may be more appropriate) hour. The High Court questioned the legality of the Bangladesh Cricket Board's (BCB) decision to send the national team to a strife-torn country where international teams have not visited since the March 2009 militant attack on the Sri Lankan team bus in Lahore.
This brings up the very real possibility that the tour will not go ahead at all. It must be understood and appreciated that Bangladesh is not averse to touring Pakistan as far as the country or its cricketing tradition goes. As a young cricketing nation, strong cricketing ties with older nations are the lifeblood of growth, and it is such a tie that was being fostered with Pakistan before this episode. But due to factors outside cricket's sphere of influence Pakistan is not a safe country to tour at present. It is unfortunate that cricket-crazy Pakistanis will not be able to see their nation finally emerge from cricketing isolation, but that is through no fault of Bangladesh's cricketers whose security will be at risk if the tour goes ahead. The plain truth is that this situation was engineered by the ambitions of one man.
BCB president Mustafa Kamal has been on a mission to curry favour with the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) to secure an International Cricket Council (ICC) vice-presidency nomination. This dangling of the carrot of a tour to Pakistan has been gross ingratitude for the support the PCB provided during Bangladesh's bid to become a Test nation, and paints the board in a terrible light. The travesty of the whole situation is that it could so easily have been avoided.
The tour to Pakistan should not have been on the table in the first place. A board chief not ruled by other interests would have gently and politely declined the offer to tour, and the matter would have been put to rest there. But it has become increasingly evident that the tour of Pakistan is nothing more than a solo political stunt by the BCB boss. Players have privately expressed their reservations, as have BCB directors. The upshot has been that Bangladesh stand to suffer far greater damage than the country they will not tour.
What can only be termed Kamal's "Mission Pakistan" has landed Bangladesh in choppy waters in the cricket world, and threatens to moor them in a no man's land of cricket relations. On the one hand, their decision to tour Pakistan will in no way be taken sportingly by powerhouses such as India, England and Australia who have steadfastly refused to tour the country because of security reasons. On the other, a cancellation of the tour will, as already declared by PCB chief Zaka Ashraf, endanger cricketing relationship between the two countries, which had become particularly strong of late.
This state of affairs has already damaged Bangladesh's reputation in the cricketing world. Our players may be respected, particularly in the aftermath of their Asia Cup heroics, but a lot of the important decisions in cricket are taken behind closed doors in boardrooms. That is where Kamal's machinations have done the most damage. The wrath of the cricketing world is now focused on the BCB and particularly its president. Yesterday the Federation of International Cricketers' Association said that the decision to tour Pakistan was made to 'enhance someone's political and other aspirations' amid 'massive conflict of interests'.
The BCB must be rescued from such a jaundiced perception, and nothing less than a change at the top, from where all the negativity seems to have originated, will do. A fresh start is needed under someone the cricketing world can trust. It is now evident, through the various, well-documented changes of stance in the lead-up to the Pakistan tour, that Kamal is unable to occupy a position of trust. Most importantly, the dominant perception of Kamal now is as a power-broker who will not sweat over player safety to satisfy his ambition.
As it is a government-appointed post, it is time for the highest authorities to intervene. If Kamal can manoeuvre his way out of this and allowed to continue, then perceptions of the country's cricket, given such a boost by the Tigers' Asia Cup performance, will hit rock bottom.

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Anika Devi received her Bachelor’s degree in Media, Culture and Communication from New York University in 2012. She began freelancing for Business Solutions BD in 2010 and joined the team as a staff writer three years later. She currently serves as the assistant editor.
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