Mosaddek’s omission: Did club pressure trump national interest?


Mosaddek Hossain scored an unbeaten 8 off 53 balls to help Bangladesh save the first Test against Sri Lanka in Chittagong. It was a small but crucial innings, and it was therefore a surprise when he was left out of the XI for the second Test.

On Friday, Mosaddek played for Abahani Limited in a Dhaka Premier League (DPL) match. Two other players released from Bangladesh’s squad, Nayeem Hasan and Kamrul Islam Rabbi, also played in the DPL. Before that, on the fifth day of the first Test, Abdur Razzak and Nayeem returned to Dhaka from Chittagong to appear in the February 5 DPL matches for their respective clubs.

Mosaddek’s case, however, merits closer scrutiny, and raises questions over the sway clubs seemingly hold over the national side’s interests in Bangladesh – particularly since he plays for Abahani, a club with close ties to the BCB top brass.

First, the decision to drop him. According to the team management, his second-innings effort in Chittagong didn’t look “fluent or confident”. Mosaddek’s first-innings dismissal was poor but he curbed his strokeplay second time round at a time when Bangladesh needed him and Mahmudullah to stick around. They did a fine job, ensuring the home side earned only their third drawn Test against Sri Lanka.

A BCB official said the decision to offload Mosaddek from the squad was the team management’s and that it wasn’t directly connected to his appearance for Abahani on Friday.

The team management’s dim view of Mosaddek’s innings can be debated, but given how the pitch for the second Test in Mirpur has behaved, Bangladesh could have done with his solidity. His replacement, Sabbir Rahman, lasted only three balls in the first innings to prolong a lean patch, and it wasn’t a surprise: he hasn’t played a competitive game since the ODI tri-series since he is serving a six-month ban from the domestic game (he is serving multiple punishments after being found guilty of physically abusing a spectator during a first-class match in December).

Second is the BCB’s continued overlooking of various conflicts of interest. Khaled Mahmud, the Bangladesh team director, is also Abahani’s head coach. BCB president Nazmul Hassan and directors Ismail Haider Mallick and Jalal Yunus are all cricket committee members of Abahani, the most successful sporting club in Bangladesh.

And finally, the team management’s policy in releasing players for domestic matches, which has been all but consistent. They have often let go of squad members for the DPL but never for a first-class tournament. During the tri-series last month, none of the players were released to play in the Bangladesh Cricket League.

When it comes to the 50-overs DPL, however, they have sometimes taken it to the other extreme. During the Bangladesh-Zimbabwe ODI series in 2014, some players were rotated so that they could appear for their DPL clubs. During Bangladesh A’s 2012 series against England Lions, selectors were forced to rotate 30 players across five one-dayers. Surely there needs to be more clarity on which players can be released from the national team, and for which domestic tournaments.

Historically, Bangladesh cricket owes a lot to the Dhaka clubs for nurturing the game when there was very little money in it. They have the biggest majority of board directors in the BCB, and even as international cricket has become the board’s marquee project, DPL clubs have continued to show their deep influence in many matters. Cases like that of Mosaddek, however, raise the question of whether that influence extends a little too deep.



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