Usually, the prize giving ceremony after a women’s team match is a low key affair. Only the cricketers from both teams are present alongside one or two guests, who are there to handover the prizes, not too different from what happens after matches in the Dhaka Premier League (DPL).
But on Saturday the scenes at the Sher-e-Bangla National Cricket Stadium in Mirpur were a bit different after the last match of the Bangladesh-India Women’s One-Day International (WODI) series. The match ended in a tie and the three-match series ended 1-1. Those were the cricketing reasons behind the buzz in the prize giving ceremony. There were also some reasons unrelated to cricket, which left a sour taste in the mouths of everyone present at the Mirpur stadium on Saturday afternoon.
The unsportspersonlike behaviour of Indian captain Harmanpreet Kaur turned an exciting day for cricket into an uncomfortable one. She showed her dissatisfaction over getting ruled out by the umpire by smashing the stumps with her bat. She looked at the umpires with piercing eyes and then while going off the field pointed a finger towards the crowd while saying something in anger. That’s why after the match ended, all eyes were on the Indian captain Harmanpreet Kaur.
She was seen making animated expressions while standing on the right side of prize giving ceremony stage. Everyone was waiting to see what Harmanpreet will say in her interview after the match. And what the Indian captain said was shocking to say the least. She fired salvo at the umpires, and said the next time she comes to Bangladesh with her team she will come prepared for such ‘pathetic umpiring’.
While everyone was still processing the abrasive comments made by Harmanpreet, another shocking incident took place. In case of drawn series, both teams, as is custom, pose with the trophy together. After Harmanpreet and Nigar jointly lifted the trophy, both teams were called to take pictures with the trophy together. In the few moments when both teams were posing for the photos, Harmanpreet was seen pointing her hands towards Nigar saying something. Those who were present there said Harmanpreet apparently told Nigar to take pictures with the umpires because the umpires are the ones who helped Bangladesh draw the series.
After this comment from Harmanpreet, Nigar and the team didn’t click any more pictures with the trophy as Nigar took her team inside the dressing room. When asked about it in the press conference, the Bangladesh captain at first didn’t want to comment on that at all. Later she said, “She (Harmanpreet) is the only one responsible for her actions. It doesn’t concern us. But I would say as a cricketer she could’ve expressed herself in a better way. But what she did is her concern. It won’t be right for me to comment on it.”
But exactly did Harmanpreet tell her that she had to take the team inside the dressing room? Nigar didn’t want to say too much about it, “There are some things you can’t say in front of everyone. After what happened, I didn’t feel that I should stay there with my team. So that’s why I left. Some things were said, after which I didn’t think it would be right for me to be there with my team. Because, cricket is a game of honour, of discipline, it’s called the gentlemen’s game. But I felt that the environment wasn’t like that. So that’s why I left with my team.”
Indian team’s vice-captain Smriti Mandhana was also asked about the incident in the post-match press conference. When asked what was said between the captains during the photo session she said, “I don’t think she said anything towards the Bangladesh captain. I think she had said a little about the umpires. From what I have heard, I don’t think she has said anything about them (Bangladesh cricketers).”
Mandhana also expressed her dissatisfaction over the umpiring in the match, “In any match, you are not happy with all decisions. Especially when there is no DRS in a series. But we kind of expected a little better level of umpiring. In terms of some decisions, it was very evident. There was not even a second thought given when the ball was hitting the pad when our batters were batting. And there was not one second of thought before the finger went up.”
Mandhana also hoped for neutral umpires in Women’s ODIs, like the men’s ODIs, “I’m sure that ICC, BCB and BCCI will definitely have more discussions on that. Maybe we can have a neutral umpiring system from next time so that we don’t sit here having these discussions.”
The Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) will discuss the incident with ICC and BCCI, said the board’s women’s wing chief Shafiul Alam Chowdhury, “We will have a board to board discussion about the things that were said. Our CEO will talk with the ICC. The match referee will definitely bring up this matter in his report.”
*This report appeared in the print and online edition of Prothom Alo and has been rewritten for the English edition by Ashfaq-Ul-Alam Niloy