Sydney event fiasco, BCB to blame along with Shakib-Taskin

Shakib Al Hasan and Taskin Ahmed at an event in Sydney, Australia

Shakib al Hasan, captain of Bangladesh T20 team, became headlines once again for negative reasons. It is alleged, he joined a reception of expatriate Bangladeshis in Sydney without taking consent from Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) or management. Paceman Taskin Ahmed also joined him.

BCB’s cricket operations committee chairman Jalal Yunus expressed his anger regarding the matter at the end of Thursday’s match at Sydney. This correspondent asked him why the cricketers were attending such events during the World Cup? Why was BCB allowing them to do so?

BCB and the team management must have kept the players away from these events especially after the fiasco regarding players joining such a programme at Brisbane. Yunus answered, “We forbade them from attending the event and I don’t know why they did. Please ask them why they went. We did not tell them to."

Shakib and Taskin broke the team rules by violating the prohibition. When asked whether any action would be taken against them, Yunus avoided the question referring to the World Cup, saying that they do not want to take any steps during the tournament. 

Is that the case or is BCB actually is no position to take any action? The question arose after the Brisbane incident. An expatriate organisation invited the whole Bangladesh team for dinner while they were at Brisbane for a practice match. The Bangladesh team attended the dinner, but both the team and the organisers faced embarrassment following an unwarranted situation during the event.

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The organisers of Brisbane complained that Shakib did not behave well during the event and insulted them in various ways. Again, it was said by the team that the organisers wanted to use the players for commercial purposes and forced them to take pictures with those who came to the event though that had not been stipulated. That's why everyone including Shakib was upset.

It was known players did not want to join the Brisbane event as controversy arose even on past occasions. Even BCB over the last few years has been discouraging players to join such events. Why then was Brisbane an exception? It is imperative find out the story behind this answer before a post-mortem of the Sydney issue.

The Bangladesh team had to attend the event in Brisbane as BCB had instructed the entire team to do so. Despite the objections of the players including Shakib, the team was somehow forced to go there through repeated calls from Dhaka. The organisers also claimed that the event was held with the permission of the BCB and the local embassy.

Rumours are rife that the top officials of a corporate organisation close to BCB has close ties with the organisers of that event in Brisbane. As cricketers were reluctant to join, the corporate organisation insisted that BCB send them. BCB merely followed the ‘unwritten’ orders by sending the team to that event.

So, in whatever way, it was BCB that started breaching the rule.

Let’s come to Sydney now. Bangladesh was to arrive here on 25 October to play their World Cup T20 match against South Africa. The event was arranged on that same day. The organisers publicised the event extensively in the social media for quite some days.

In the campaign titled ‘An exclusive dinner with Bangladesh national cricket players’, many packages including dining with players at the same table, talking to the players, taking individual photos and giving away bats signed by Shakib were offered.

The price of a dinner table ticket was set according to the package. Individual tickets were 90 Australian dollars each, special cricketers’ team tickets 500 dollars each (max 10 persons per table), silver sponsorship 1000 dollars each (five-person table), powered by sponsorship of 2000 dollars (10-person table along with exclusive offer of head-to-head discussion and promo highlights), VIP table 2000 dollars (10-person ticket, special dinner with players, individual pictures and opportunities to talk individually with players) were the package offers.

Initially, 150 guests were supposed to attend the event, but later, only about 100 did so. Organisers had sold these tickets in different categories. Due to the decrease of number in guests, the venue was changed from North Ryde School of Arts to Zaaffran Restaurant in Sydney City.

Can anyone in the country or abroad without the prior permission of the BCB use national cricketers as such commercial commodities? Failure to take permission is a gross crime and BCB should take legal action against the organisers. Did the BCB take permission? Although Jalal Yunus murmured, "We told you not to join the event...," it is clear that the organisers did not care about them, it is clear from the event held on 25 October in the presence of Shakib-Taskin at the Zaaffran restaurant.

BCB may say the whole team did not join the programme only Shakib and Taskin went there, so the blame falls on them. If so, let BCB tackle them on allegations of breaching discipline. But who is to take the blame for these commercial activities by using the name of the players? How did such a big event take place with the national players without BCB knowing?

The Sydney event became uncertain following the Brisbane fiasco. It was even heard that the event was supposed to be cancelled. But organisers were compelled to arrange it as some tickets were sold. To handle that pressure, the event was held with the participation of just two players.

BCB took strict stance regarding the Sydney event after the Brisbane incident. Cricketers were strictly forbidden to join. But two of the cricketers, who have close personal relations with the organisers, joined.

And BCB or the team management could not resist strongly because they had lost moral ground by forcing everyone to join the Brisbane event earlier. Why should the cricketers pay heed to them?

If Shakib and Taskin have breached discipline, they did not take the prohibition of BCB seriously- and that is due to shaky moral stance of BCB and the team management. So does the blame of attending the programme also befall on BCB high-ups? They started it all.