Bangladesh cricket could take its first step towards the game’s decentralisation at an administrative level by the end of 2015, vice-president Mahbubul Anam said. The long-awaited regional cricket association is set to be launched as a pilot project in one of the country’s eight divisions.
Speaking at a discussion seminar called “our cricket at the grassroots,” organised by Bangladesh Sports Journalists Association, Mahbubul said they were looking to develop a local capacity and a separate cricket calendar in various divisions so that cricket is not solely run from their Dhaka headquarters.
The BCB constitution defines regional cricket associations as bodies to run cricket in the different administrative divisions of Bangladesh. It states the BCB should ensure that cricket is run across the country through the regional and District Sports Associations (DSA).
While the DSAs are formed and run by the government in all 64 districts of the country, the regional cricket bodies haven’t seen the light of day despite being in the works for nearly two decades and being included in the board’s constitution since 2012.
Mahbubul admitted that cricket is currently being run on the basis of the game’s popularly rather than a proper decentralised system.
“By December, we will separate at least one of the divisions as a pilot project,” Mahbubul said. “It will have a separate calendar. We have to take the facility to the people, but can’t expect the people to come to the facility. We have to build local capacity, without which we cannot run a regional cricket association.”
“Currently we are running cricket on popularity but we have one of the lowest participation levels in formal cricket. We can’t keep running cricket on passionate organisers. We have to ensure that there is balance between voluntarism and professionalism at the grassroots level.”
The seminar invited diverse voices from across Bangladesh, including coaches and organisers from places like Comilla, Madaripur, Rajshahi and Barisal. The programme became a platform for the BCB, represented by Mahbubul, game development committee chairman Khaled Mahmud and game development manager Nazmul Abedeen, to listen to the myriad of issues that are holding back the game’s expansion across the country.
Former Bangladesh captain Khaled Mashud, who transformed Rajshahi cricket almost single-handedly, said that facilities were not a problem in his region, but alleged that poor management was the cause behind Rajshahi’s recent troubles in the domestic first-class competition.
Badrul Huda, the veteran coach and organiser from Comilla, said that regionally one of the biggest problems was the lack of local leagues. In his district, he said, there was only one league, which was a knockout competition. Mashud said that the league in Rajshahi did not have a relegation system, rendering it meaningless.
Cutting out the relegation in a league means that the person seeking councillorship [representation] to the BCB will be guaranteed a vote from a set number of clubs, without risking losing their support. Mashud urged the BCB to stop funding to the districts that do not organise league competitions.
Mahmud, also a former Bangladesh captain, said that most of what had been said in the seminar was a true picture of the grassroots of Bangladesh cricket.