Corruption claim deepens Bangladesh cricket crisis after strike

Former BCB president Saber Hossain Chowdhury claims match-fixing is widespread in Bangladesh and that corruption is deep-rooted at the governing body.

Shakib Al Hasan (centre) speaking to journalists alongside team-mate Mushfiqur Rahim (right) at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium in Dhaka on Monday. The players demand better pay and benefits by the BCB.   -  AFP

A former Bangladesh cricket chief said on Tuesday that match fixing was widespread in the country, deepening a crisis sparked by a strike by top players over wages.

Former Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) president Saber Hossain Chowdhury, a British-educated lawyer, businessman and now member of parliament, said corruption was deep-rooted at the governing body. “@BCBtigers is only national sporting body in the world that promotes institutionalised #matchfixing, #corruption,” he said on his Twitter account, adding: “Unbelievable!!” “Flagged this issue many times myself,” he said.

National captain Shakib Al Hasan raised concerns about corruption in domestic cricket on Monday when announcing that most of the country’s professional players had started a strike to press for better pay and benefits. The stoppage threatens a Bangladesh tour of India next month.

‘Sorry state’

“We all know the sorry state of our first, second and third division cricket,” Shakib said. “A lot of the times we know which team will win and which team will lose before the match starts.”

The strike comes amid growing criticism of the BCB from cricketers who say the governing body is not sharing enough of its growing wealth. Local cricketers want Bangladesh players and coaches to be paid more in line with foreign hires. They have demanded a 50 percent pay hike for first-class players, the expansion of national pay contracts, increased match fees in domestic games and better benefits for support staff.

Read | Shakib: Lack of facilities, low pay hurting B'desh cricketers

Allegations of match fixing and corruption in Bangladesh cricket are not new, and in 2014 the entire Bangladesh Premier League T20 contest was suspended under a graft cloud.

In another notorious case in 2017, authorities banned a bowler for 10 years after he delivered a succession of wides and no-balls to concede 92 runs to deliberately lose a match in what his team called a protest against biased umpiring.

That Dhaka League Second Division game raised suspicions after a Lalmatia bowler sent down 13 wides and three no-balls in the first over — all of which raced to the boundary — costing his side 80 runs. Lalmatia had earlier been dismissed for just 88 off 14 overs before opponents Axiom reached 92 for 0 off just four legal deliveries.