After the long hiatus forced by the Covid-19 pandemic, recently it was announced that the Bangladesh national team would return to the international stage with a 3-Test series against Sri Lanka, for which preparations are underway already.
Today it was the turn of domestic cricket within Bangladesh to receive its strongest indicator yet of a coming resumption. Although no date was announced, cricket supremo Nazmul Hasan Papon, said this to the media himself Monday.
The last competitive cricket match held in Bangladesh was back in March. All the cricketing activities were on hold completely or on a limited scale since. Professional cricketers were stuck at home for months until they started an individual training programme ahead of Eid-ul-Adha which is still going forward.
Many cricketers along with the Cricket Welfare Association of Bangladesh (CWAB) have previously urged BCB to provide the facilities so that domestic cricket can make a comeback. But considering the Covid-19 situation of the country, BCB adopted a slow-moving policy.
“We are working on bringing the game of cricket back in the field. We are not sure if we can invite an international team to Bangladesh, but we definitely will start domestic cricket soon. We’ll reveal the plan in details soon,” Nazmul said on Monday at Sher-e-Bangla National Cricket Stadium.
BCB revealed the decision right after the Sri Lanka-Bangladesh series went into jeopardy. Bangladesh team were due to fly for Sri Lanka later this month. But the Sri Lanka Cricket said they are unable to provide the facilities BCB sought earlier.
BCB came to a decision that they’ll tour Sri Lanka if and only if they are allowed it would seem to dictate the itinerary, and even the level of precautions that they would be willing to face in the context of the pandemic.
As per the Sri Lanka government’s regulation, everyone who enters the island nation is needed to maintain a strict quarantine period of 14-days. The same length as many other countries. But the BCB asked to trim this period to seven days - an extraordinary request. Yet even the whole tour is now being said to be imperilled by this brattish stance from BCB.
Also read: Sri Lanka tour not possible now: BCB chief
Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) President Nazmul Hasan said the series against Sri Lanka for three Tests is not possible if the hosts do not allow Bangladesh a shorter quarantine period and other facilities that have been sought earlier.
As per the Sri Lankan government’s regulation, everyone who enters the island nation is required a 14-day strict quarantine, but BCB agreed only for a seven-day quarantine. During quarantine, every member of the Bangladesh team and coaching staff will need to undergo Covid-19 Test thrice, and they only get permission to use practice facilities if they test negative.
“The terms and conditions Sri Lanka sent us are not possible to follow. So we think this series is not possible considering the current circumstances. We’re set to tell them our stance,” Nazmul told the media after a meeting at the BCB headquarters in Mirpur.
“What we’ve thought earlier is very different from the current scenario. And we think their arrangements are different from other countries who have already started playing international cricket,” the BCB chief said.
In other countries, a foreign team can start practice after a seven-day strict quarantine. But Sri Lanka proposed Bangladesh 14-day quarantine when every member of the team should stay at their hotel rooms.
“This is not a boys’ game, this is part of ICC World Test Championship. So we are unable to understand what they really want to say,” Nazmul said.
BCB has a plan to send High-performance Unit (HP) to Sri Lanka with the national team so that they can play practice game among them. Sri Lanka Cricket agreed to this. But the health department of the island nation cleared that they will not allow as many members with Bangladesh team.
Nazmul said: “We thought that Sri Lanka is safer than Bangladesh in terms of Covid-19 situation. So we planned to send our national team days earlier so that they can have a longer practice camp. But the current situation is so different. We don’t know the main reason behind this.
“They may have a dangerous Covid-19 situation but we don’t know. But they are hosting domestic cricket. So the real reason seems to be something else. We wanted to host our initial camp in Dambulla which is an isolated area.
“Despite that, they did not agree to a shorter quarantine period. I think this is a surprising move by Sri Lanka.”
This series was originally scheduled for July-August, but due to the outbreak of the virus, it was later rescheduled for October-November. It is part of the ongoing World Test Championship. Bangladesh have already played three Tests of this event and lost all of them.
Also read: Bangladesh-Sri Lanka Test series in jeopardy
BCB is now planning to host domestic cricket. Nazmul said the BCB is working to bring cricket back to the field.
“We don’t know if we can manage an international team to play in Bangladesh. But we are very hopeful of bringing the game back in the field. We may start domestic cricket soon,” he said.
Bangladesh all-rounder Mehidy Hasan Miraz says the long hiatus forced by Covid-19 has taken the accuracy away from his bowling. The all-rounder also said he is working hard to get his old zeal back ahead of the Sri Lanka tour for a three-match Test series starting from October 24.
Mehidy last appeared in a competitive cricket match back in March this year in the Dhaka Premier Division Cricket League. Just after a single round of the league, Covid-19 has hit the country, and as a result, the Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) decided to halt the league indefinitely.
“I have started bowling in Mirpur after a long gap of five-six months. It feels really good to get the opportunity to start bowling, but I’m feeling a little comfortable because of my bowling what has lost its way. I am unable to control the ball the way I used to do. I think it’ll take some times to get the shape back,” Mehidy told the media after his Sunday’s practice at Sher-e-Bangla National Cricket Stadium.
All the cricketing activities were on hold after March 16 due to the outbreak of the deadly virus. However, a few cricketers started an individual training programme set off by BCB before Eid-ul-Adha, which is still going on. Mehidy is one of the regular players who join the programme.
“Before coming to Dhaka, I practised in Khulna. It’ll take some times to get my natural bowling back. I’m trying my best so that I can do it faster. I have talked to our spin bowling coach Daniel Vettori. He gave me some tips on what I am trying to follow,” Mehidy added.
Till the date, Mehidy represented Bangladesh in 22 Tests, 41 ODIs and 13 T20Is bagging 90, 40 and four wickets respectively. He is more successful at home than abroad. He scalped 61 wickets in his 11 Tests played in the home while he took 29 wickets in his other 11 Tests held abroad.
“Challenge of a spinner is bigger when he plays abroad. Especially, I have to face more challenge when I play away Tests. To succeed abroad, I have to bowl constantly keeping the line and length right. It’s rare to get help from the wicket in a foreign land. I think the wickets of Asia are more helpful for spinners than the other countries. I’m trying to sort out a way how I can do better in the away Tests,” Mehidy further told the media.
Players of Bangladesh team are currently gearing up for Sri Lanka series comprising three Tests. Right after BCB announces the team for this tour, a residential training camp will be held in Mirpur. In which, all the players will be required to stay at the team hotel in Dhaka so that they can be safe from being exposed to Covid-19.
Meanwhile, BCB is yet to finalize the tour plan with the hosts’ board Sri Lanka Cricket. As per the government regulation, everyone who enters Sri Lanka requires a 14-day quarantine period. But BCB is not agreed with this term. They rather asked Sri Lanka board to make the quarantine period shorter. BCB CEO has said recently that Sri Lanka board is working closely with their health department to make a shorter quarantine period sure for Bangladesh national team and its support staff.
The proposed three-match Test series between Bangladesh and hosts Sri Lanka is in jeopardy as the government of Sri Lanka seems to be reluctant to provide with the facilities that the Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) has asked.
As per the latest development, the regulation of the Sri Lanka government to tackle the Covid-19 situation cast a long shadow over the fate of the series.
This series was originally scheduled for July-August, but the Covid-19 situation forced the involving parties to reschedule it to October-November.
“We are still on our plan to send our High-performance Unit (HP) to Sri Lanka with the national team. The Sri Lanka board also agreed upon this. But their government has the other observation which they have sent to us. We will see it thoroughly and take the next step as soon as possible. Otherwise, we have nothing more to tell about the future of the series,” Naimur Rahman, the board director and chairman of HP, told the media on Sunday.
Every person who enters Sri Lanka is required to maintain a 14-day quarantine to check if he is infected with the Covid-19. But BCB asked Sri Lanka to trim this period to seven days. Sri Lanka board forwarded this proposal to their health department who are yet to come up with a reply.
“As we have talked to Sri Lanka board earlier, they agreed that we can practice during the quarantine period. But now their health department said we can’t practice during the quarantine. There are many things which are not under the control of Sri Lanka Cricket. They also asked to reduce the number of tour members,” Naimur Rahman added.
As Sri Lanka urged to reduce the members of the touring party, the tour of HP in danger now. However, Naimur Rahman said the tour of the national team is their main priority as they can organize a different camp for the players of HP.
“The tour of the national team should get the utmost priority as this series is a part of the ongoing World Test Championship. If we miss this window, it’ll be very tough to manage another window in the coming months. So we have to make the final call keeping all these in mind,” Naimur Rahman further added.
Instead of a 14-day quarantine, as is mandatory in most countries accepting visitors during the pandemic, the Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) is hopeful of a seven-day quarantine period upon the arrival of the team in the island nation to play a three-match Test series in October.
The series will begin on October 24, but the Tigers will fly for Sri Lanka later this month so that they can have a longer training camp in Colombo. Before that, the Bangladesh team will also have a shorter residential camp in Dhaka, Nizamuddin Chowdhury, the CEO of BCB, confirmed to media on Saturday.
The Sri Lanka tour will be marked as Bangladesh’s first international cricket event after the deadly virus hit the world, and at the same time, it’ll be Bangladesh’s first three-match Test series in six years.
“We are in regular contact with the Sri Lanka board. They are communicating with their health ministry to manage a shorter quarantine period for the touring Bangladesh team. It’s a pandemic, so we have to understand that every country is going through a changed situation which is called new normal. Like the other countries, Sri Lanka is also going through new regulations. But they are trying to bring the situation to an endurable level,” Chowdhury told the media on Saturday.
“We are doing what we need to do from our part- travel booking, practice plan and when we can start camp in Dhaka. We believe that the quarantine period will not be longer than seven days. We are preparing our team accordingly. And I think it will not cause any problem in our main series as we are going to Sri Lanka a month in advance,” he added.
There were some talks surfacing around the cricketing arena that the tour might be delayed due to the current situation as Sri Lanka is yet to finalize the quarantine period. But BCB CEO ruled out this idea.
“I don’t think we are in a situation to talk about the delay of this series. We can’t say anything before getting the official confirmation about quarantine period from Sri Lanka board. We are preparing our team and waiting for their plan. I hope we will get that within the next few days,” Nizamuddin told the media.
Meanwhile, apart from the head of physical training Nicholas Lee, all members of the coaching staff have tested negative for Covid-19, and they will be allowed to join the national team camp without a 14-day quarantine, confirmed BCB CEO.
“The health department agreed to allow them to join the national team camp without completing a 14-day quarantine period as they are free from Covid-19. But we are yet to receive an official letter allowing the coaching staff to join the camp. I hope to get the letter within the next two days,” Nizamuddin further told the media.