Egg Sandwiches and Pybus

Budding teenage cricket fans may not remember this. In 1997, Bangladesh, then not yet a test team, trounced Kenya to win the ICC Trophy and qualify for the 1999 World Cup. At the risk of sounding really old, in those days we did not have Star Cricket covering every club match on earth, so we listened to this on the radio. The joy of that winning run against Kenya was surpassed only by the victory against Pakistan two years later.

An Awami League government was in power then as well. When the victorious team came back from the ICC Trophy, a civic reception was organised. In those innocent, cricket-crazy days, I got up early on the weekend to watch the broadcast live. The enduring memory I have is of the Sheikh Hasina raising Akram Khan’s hand and the crowd going crazy. It truly did feel as if we had accomplished something.

Fast forward 15 years later. In that time, we have become a test playing nation. We have almost doubled our per capita GDP from $336 to $670 (2010). We have produced a generation of players who would do Bulbul, Nannu and Moni proud. We have hosted the opening ceremony of a World Cup.

Where we have not seen any progress – let me rephrase that, we have regressed is in the quality of administrators who run the game.

In 1997, we had Saber Hossain Chowdhury as BCB President. He lured the likes of Gordon Greenidge to our green land and kept him there despite everything. Whatever his reputation as an MP, he was an effective administrator and instrumental in pushing for Bangladesh’s test status.

Fast forward 10 years later, the second AL government in its infinite wisdom gives us Mustafa “Podmoful” Kamal as BCB President. Podmo bhai has been more interested in securing himself a viziership to the ICC than in promoting Bangladeshi cricket. And now that he’s gone we have Papon, whom I know nothing about mainly because I do not want to risk my day being ruined by googling him up and finding out he’s some ex-Jubo League faithful that was owed a favour.

The result? Our last foreign coach, Stuart Law, lasted 9 months. His replacement Richard Pybus was given the job without BCB agreeing contract terms with him. He lasted 5 months.

(In a weird twist of history, we risk becoming more Pakistan-like in cricketing terms under an Awami League government.)

Pybus has a tell-all interview with cricinfo which makes for depressing reading for any Deshi cricket fan. But in between the familiar portait of Deshi-style passive aggressive footdragging, there is one detail that is chilling: our cricketers are being served food that gives them food poisoning because “there is not enough money in the budget”.

In 1997 we earned $336 per head. Sheikh Hasina smiled and held Akram Khan’s hand high up in the air and we cheered. Now we earn $670 per head and our cricket board tells us that there’s not enough money in the budget to ensure proper nutrition. If the Prime Minister wants to give a civic reception for a winning cricket team again during her career as a politician, she needs to find out why that is and find out fast.


  1. Well, if you want to talk about regression, what about lowered expectations?

    In 2001, Arafat Rahman Coco was made chairman of one of the committees of the BCB. The howl of outrage from Bangladeshi social and sports blogs was unanimous. I remember taking a ride with someone from my Ohio campus to the Cleveland Airport, an one-hour ride, and the entire conversation was about how Coco would single-handedly destroy Bangladeshi cricket.

    But now, Najmul Hassan Papon is appointed as the next head of BCB. What is his only qualification? That he is the president’s son. And the silence is deafening.

    • Papon was the President of Abahani. So was Saber. Not sure about Lotus Kamal though.

      “our cricketers are being served food that gives them food poisoning because โ€œthere is not enough money in the budgetโ€ – how much money these cricketers were making in 1997 and how much they make now? How much money we had to hire coach back in 1997 and what we offering them now?

      • Answer to both your questions is probably more.

        Not sure why these are relevant unless you’re suggesting that players and coach should chip in for their own meals while at training camp? Is that what you’re suggesting?

      • As far as I know, Papon was the chairman of Abahani’s cricket committee, not for the entire club. That position would be held by Kazi Nabil Ahmed.

  2. No, I am suggesting it is next to impossible. BCB is the richest sports association in Bangladesh and they are flooded with money. BUDGET cannot be the reason.

    Also, whatever accusations were made by Coach Pybus is no way Prime Minister’s responsibility to look after. If not Lotus then Papan should answer these allegations. The Prime Minister of a 150 million people can possibly monitor what is the lunch menu for our cricketers. She has bigger things to be accountable for – Padma Bridge, Teesta Water Agreement, Electricity Situation – NOT an alleged excuse made by a coach against BCB professionals.

    But again, it is next to impossible for us (Bangladeshis- both full and part time) to digest food without blaming/praising one of the two Begums ๐Ÿ™‚ They are the reasons of all our failures. They are the reasons of all our success. They are Durga, They are Kaali. Without them all of us are orphans – even Paris Hilton has more strength in her back to take responsibilities of her actions than us as a nation.

    A blog post on Pybus should have been on BCB’s performance unless of course, you were imbued to beget existing list of alleged failures of the current ruling coalition and the Prime Minister. If the reason is the later- you have successfully made your point.

      • Hopefully annoying strawman will inspire you to write without rhetoric ๐Ÿ™‚ May be in your November post you will focus on the issue ๐Ÿ™‚

      • It has inspired me to regard pybus as a lying rajakar. Job done raihan. Now go back to your local chapter al meeting and report on mission accomplished.

  3. Oh wow! You are too sensitive and attack people personally. But hey – nice job in moving the arguement from your writing to Awami-BNP-Rajakar-India’r Dalal discourse. Certainly, no one expecting that “bhoot” will climb down anytime soon. But keep this up- soon you will get a call in the talk shows and may get a column in ๐Ÿ™‚

      • Khujeci, Raihan is kindly paying us a huge compliment. As you can see here:

        bdnews24 was only one of the four media outlets allowed to cover PM’s events. This means that all of us here at AoD have been conscientious enough about covering Sheikh Hasina’s words of wisdom, from guarding bedrooms to correctly identifying talk-show participants, and covering them with “due importance,” that we merit inclusion into this select group.

        I demand that AoD be made the official blog of the PMO.

      • I thought they are the most popular online English News paper in Bangladesh ๐Ÿ™‚ Also, did not want to hurt Zafar ๐Ÿ™‚ You see I have a soft (or very hard) corner for him.

  4. Blogger5 bhai ba bon,

    Apni ato nachtasen ken? Shobai pabay to boli nai. PP pabay bolchi. Unar shathey apnew jodi call paiten taily to apnader Rumi bhai ato din e niyee jaito ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. The first move by our new BCB President:

    Tigers could tour Pakistan this year

    Thu, Nov 1st, 2012 10:01 pm BdST

    Dhaka, Nov 1 (โ€”Bangladesh have provisionally committed to a tour of Pakistan at the end of the year depending on security arrangements and the results of discussions with the government, Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) president Nazmul Hasan said on Thursday.

    “We have had a correspondence with the Pakistan Cricket Board over a tour to their country at the end of this year. I would say this is a commitment,” Hasan told a news conference.

    “However, it all depends on security and many other issues including the cost benefit. We have to see how the Bangladesh cricket team will be benefited by touring Pakistan.

    “We also have to discuss the matter with the government before making a final decision.”

    Pakistan media recently reported that Bangladesh would play three one-day internationals and two Twenty20 internationals. The BCB denied the reports.

    Bangladesh were scheduled to tour Pakistan in April for a short series but it was cancelled after a High Court division bench ordered the visit be suspended following a petition filed by a lawyer and a private university teacher.

    No international teams have toured Pakistan since the 2009 attack by militants on the Sri Lanka team bus in Lahore.

    • I think the rule on touring Pakistan should be that BCB President needs to accompany players on tour, stay at the same hotel and travel on the team bus/convoy. Otherwise, players will be within their rights to refuse.

      Why an AL government can not get us a proper tour of India is the real mystery. Impotence jare bole.

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