The BCB will review its decision to punish Fear Fighters Club and Lalmatia Club, their players, coach and manager, after they admitted to losing Dhaka Second Division Cricket League games on purpose as a form of protest against alleged biased umpiring. The matches produced two of the most bizarre scorecards ever seen.
The need for reassessment came after the punished submitted multiple letters to the BCB requesting a pardon to renew their careers over the last 12 months. In January this year, both Lalmatia and Fear Fighters appealed to play in this year’s Second Division League but were denied.
Jalal Yunus, the BCB director who was part of the three-member inquiry committee formed in April 2017, said that the BCB would discuss all these appeals later this month.
“We have received appeals from some of the players and clubs,” Yunus said. “I think Lalmatia have put in a request recently too, and one of the captains has also submitted a letter. We are going to sit for a review soon.”
Last year, the BCB effectively terminated Fear Fighters and Lalmatia from the league and handed 10-year bans to bowlers Sujon Mahmud and Tasnim Hasan. They also banned captains Faisal Ahmed and Tonumoy Ghosh, Lalmatia coach Asadullah Khan and manager Adnan Rahman for five years each.
The BCB delivered the punishments within ten days, without much in the way of clarification or due process, and soon enough flaws emerged in the investigation. The committee didn’t meet all those involved in the incident, and were said to be lenient on umpires Shamsur Rahman and Azizul Bari, the central figures in the entire episode.
During both games, umpires Shamsur and Azizul were said to have prevented captains from both Fear Fighters (against Indira Road Krira Chakra) and Lalmatia (against Axiom Crickters) from seeing who actually won the toss. They were also alleged to have bullied players from these clubs during the games, and then went on to give several questionable decisions.
In the first of the two games in question, frustrated by what had happened during their batting innings, Fear Fighters’ Tasnim gave away 69 runs in 1.1 overs which included eight wides and six no-balls. Following Tasnim’s example, Lalmatia’s Sujon, having allegedly been treated the same way by umpires Shamsur and Azizul, gave away 92 runs in four deliveries that included 13 wides and three no-balls the next day.
The BCB’s inquiry committee said later in their report that umpires Shamsur and Azizul should have stopped Tasnim and Sujon from bowling in this manner. For being unable to control the match, Shamsur and Azizul were handed six-month bans which ended in November last year, and they are now eligible to officiate in league games.
Both bowling performances made headlines across the cricket world and while on the surface it appeared to be one of those quirky scorecards, scratching slightly below revealed the tale of Dhaka’s lower leagues.
Several umpires, including Shamsur and Azizul, are recognised as problematic, with many clubs putting in written complaints against them in previous seasons. In the Dhaka Premier League, umpiring was a major issue in 2016 but it has since reduced in the following two seasons, including this year when only a few incidents have come up.
There have, however, been continued calls for better umpiring in this season’s Dhaka’s Second Division League. There is also fear among many clubs that umpiring could again be an issue in the First Division League, the second tier of the Dhaka league system, which began on April 8.
The punished players – Sujon, Tasnim, Faisal and Tonumoy – remain out of action, as Dhaka’s leagues form the pinnacle of Bangladesh’s domestic cricket. Over the last 12 months, they have tried to play in unofficial leagues in small towns, although in some tournaments their BCB bans became an issue. One of them has even dabbled with umpiring.