“Bangladesh must change its attitude towards Pakistan tour. After the Sri Lankan series the excuse for lack of security has become lame. If Bangladesh take the next big step, the beneficiary would only be them”

 

The Bangladesh Cricket Team is expected to tour Pakistan and play a Test series alongside shorter format matches. If the tour happens then Bangladesh would play a Test series on Pakistan soil since 2003. But like the past, the uncertainty over this tour still remains. The Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) is “mulling whether to propose shifting the tour to a neutral venue if they do not get the green signal from the Bangladesh Government”.

On December 3, 2019, BCB cricket operations chairman Akram Khan said, “If we get the clearance from the government, we can start discussions with the Pakistan board but we are yet to get the clearance. Everything will depend on what the government wants. We will definitely sit with the player to take their opinion as well if the government gives clearance for the tour”.

BCB proposed Pakistan to play the series in two separate venues – the shorter formats in Pakistan and Test series in a neutral venue, which did not please the hierarchy of Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB). Certainly, from their point of view, they are trying heart and soul to bring international cricket back to Pakistan and right now if they play a series in two separate venues, it won’t help them at all.

Meanwhile, Pakistan have hosted Sri Lanka successfully for a Test series after a decade and the series ended without any chaos but a sense of friendliness existed until the end. The security was extremely satisfactory and Sri Lankan players enjoyed a great time out there. Now, at this point, denying playing a Test series in Pakistan citing security concerns would be a lame excuse.

The PCB boss Ehsan Mani said, “No one should be under any misapprehension as to where Pakistan’s home Tests will take place. All of Pakistan’s matches, against Bangladesh or anyone else, will take place in Pakistan. I still hope the BCB will reflect on the matter and accept there is no reason for them not to visit”.

“If Sri Lanka can come – and bringing them was very high-risk – then it is safe. If anything even minor had happened, people would have said it isn’t safe to come. But they trusted the people here and came and they [the ones that opted out] said they wished they had come for the limited-overs series as well, because what they’ve been told and the ground realities are very different.

“I don’t want to say too much, because our discussions with the BCB are ongoing. When they formally tell us what decision they’ve taken, we’ll see what we need to do. The Bangladesh women’s team came to Pakistan, as well as the Under-16 team, and they went back very happy. So we don’t want them to be in any doubt that if they play us, it will be in Pakistan”.

The historical significance

Historically, from a cricketing point of view, Pakistan have played a key in helping Bangladesh getting a breakthrough in international cricket after gaining independence. Despite sharing a very rough history during the liberation war in 1971, Pakistan stepped forward to help its neighbours four years later.

Cricket in this part of the region took a setback after 1971. It was not possible for a war-torn country to think about such an expensive game. Then there was unrest all around the country since 1972. The great Dhaka Stadium, which gained fame as a Test venue during the Pakistan era, would see other sports to dominate except cricket. The famous Mr. Robin Marlour expressed his sadness about the state of cricket in East Bengal.  He had little idea that someone from Bengal could play cricket as during the Pakistan era cricketers mostly came from Lahore and Karachi. But someone named Syed Ashraful  Haque, a cricket enthusiast studying in London, wrote a letter to Rob stating that cricket is not dead in new Bangladesh.

The Bangladesh team which faced MCC XI in 1976-77. Image Courtesy: Sportskeeda
The Bangladesh team which faced MCC XI in 1976-77. Image Courtesy: Sportskeeda

But whether cricket in Bangladesh exists or not, the world and cricket’s powerful bodies must know. At this point of time, the then Board of Control for Cricket in Pakistan (BCCP) stepped forward to help Bangladesh. In the winter of 1975, BCCP arranged a tournament to celebrate the hundredth birth anniversary of Mohammad Ali Jinnah. It was a tournament where the Pakistan national team would play a limited-overs game against the invited World XI. BCCP invited the newly formed Board of Control for Bangladesh Board (BCCB) to suggest one of their players for World XI. Bangladesh suggested Raqibul Hasan’s name. BCCP accepted Raqibul flew towards Karachi.

In that tournament, Raqibul came in contact with many famous names and advertised Bangladesh Cricket in a positive fashion. That inclusion played a vital role in the events that would follow. The world came to know that cricket existed in Bangladesh and thus International Cricket Council generated enough support to give Bangladesh the breakthrough on January 7, 1976-77. An MCC team visited Dhaka to play a first-class match against Bangladesh.

Since then Bangladesh cricket has come a long way and it all started from that inclusion of Raquibul Hasan in 1975.

Not only that. During the 80s, more often, Pakistan sent teams to visit and play in Bangladesh to popularize cricket amid the sky-high popularity of soccer.

A featured article on Sportsweek in 1987 where Omar Qureshi discussed about how he lend a helping hand to Bangladesh Cricket. Image Courtesy: Cricketer Nirman
A featured article on Sportsweek in 1987 where Omar Qureshi discussed how he lend a helping hand to Bangladesh Cricket. Image Courtesy: Cricketer Nirman

Superstars like Imran Khan and Sarfraz Nawaz came to watch the finals of school cricket and gave valuable tips to youngsters while touring here along with Omar Qureshi XI in 1986. In the same year, under Gazi Ashraf Hossain Lipu, Bangladesh toured Pakistan where they were greeted warmly.

Gazi Ashraf Hossain Lipu and Imran Khan walk out for the toss during the match between Bangladesh and Omar Qureshi XI. Image Courtesy: Crickter Nirman
Gazi Ashraf Hossain Lipu and Imran Khan walk out for the toss during the match between Bangladesh and Omar Qureshi XI. Image Courtesy: Crickter Nirman

In 1989 Imran came to Dhaka as an ambassador of the United Nations to promote polio vaccination and also he took part in a short but brief coaching clinic to pass on valuable advises to young cricketers.

Gazi Ashraf Hossain Lipu is greeted by a Pakistani Official during Bangladesh's tour to Pakistan in 1986. Image Courtesy: Cricketer Nirman
Gazi Ashraf Hossain Lipu is greeted by a Pakistani Official during Bangladesh’s tour to Pakistan in 1986. Image Courtesy: Cricketer Nirman

In the early days, Bangladesh received helped from their neighbours a lot and Pakistan’s help can never be undermined in the era of soccer craze.

Then, if one thinks from a cricketing point of view, Bangladesh should play more and more Test series against Pakistan keeping in mind the fact, Pakistan’s bowling attack would help them to improve as Test batsmen. There is no need to explain in detail how good Pakistani pacers are and also, how below-par Bangladesh batsmen are when they face quality pace attacks. In that sense, Bangladesh would be benefited and to become a quality side there is no option, but to fare better in Test cricket.

Bangladesh must change its attitude towards Pakistan tour. After the Sri Lankan series the excuse for lack of security has become lame. If Bangladesh take the next big step, the beneficiary would only be them.

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