DHAKA // Bangladesh are confident the exodus of players to the unofficial Indian Cricket League (ICL) will not cripple the national team in next month's home series against New Zealand, a cricket official said. The former Bangladesh captain Habibul Bashar and 12 other leading players signed for the Twenty20 league on Tuesday, despite the Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) has said it will slap 10-year bans on those playing in unofficial tournaments.
"No doubt it is a setback for us," the BCB media chief Ahmed Sazzadul Alam said. "But we are confident that we have enough players in the pipeline to fill the void. Bangladesh, who play three one-dayers and two Tests against New Zealand, have only won one of their previous 53 Tests (47 defeats) since making their debut in 2000. "The players waiting in the pipeline are equally talented," Mr Alam said. "The only thing we will be missing is the experience of a few players."
Among those who have signed up for the ICL, only Alok Kapali, Farhad Reza and Dhiman Ghosh were in the Bangladesh squad which played three one-dayers against Australia this month. The Batsmen Shariar Nafees and Aftab Ahmed played in the previous Test series, at home against South Africa in February. At least seven contracted players including Bashar, Nafees and Aftab have put in requests for retirement with the BCB without giving any reason.
Mr Alam said many key players had not joined the rebel ICL. "Most of the players like Mohammad Ashraful, Mashrafe Mortaza, Sakib Al Hassan, Tamim Iqbal, Abdur Razzak and Shahadat Hossain who are regulars in the national team, are still with us. "Our bowling department is not at all affected with their departure." New Zealand arrive in Bangladesh on Sept 30 and play two ODIs in Dhaka on Oct 9 and 11, with the final game in Chittagong on Oct 14.
The Tests will be played in Chittagong and Dhaka from Oct 17 and 25 respectively. The BCB officials are also hopeful its depleted team and the Australian Test tour of India happening around the same period will not affect the interest in the Bangladesh series and its income. *Reuters