We sometimes tend to forget that cricket or any kind of sports is also a kind of entertainment. Cricket is a performing art where all the players perform on the stage (the field), and the directors direct from behind the curtains.
Well, it finally feels like that! A drama series is unfolding in front of our eyes, a primary plot is being developed and we - the audience are waiting eagerly for the next episodes.
What goes unnoticed is the terrible outcome of all this.
All-rounder Shakib Al Hasan is currently on paternity leave. He skipped the ongoing New Zealand tour. He won't play in the domestic tournament that has just begun. And he will probably miss the Sri Lanka tour as well. But he is regularly in the news, and the reaction to his statement is news again. Shakib being Shakib!
Shakib used social media to blame the team management, and the board commented on the accusations through the media. While I'm writing this, ex-captain Mashrafe Bin Mortaza is preparing an atom to be thrown at any minute, through the media, again!
And this is apparently the hot topic in the cricket fraternity while the national cricket team is touring New Zealand, where they have never won a match, and the first game didn't look very promising either. There is very little hope by the look of things.
Besides, ODI skipper Tamim Iqbal decided to return home after the ODI series due to personal reasons. The team is also yet to recover from the 'bad dream' of a Test series against the Windies.
But this is probably just the subplot of the drama, which the audience can absorb to shift their focus which is glued to the main plot.
Back to the main plot again. What will be the outcome of such a blame game? A few problems may be solved, or the confusions may be clarified. But at what cost? The filth in our cricket culture is now visible, and it already smells stinky. In the bigger picture, it will slowly bring ruin to our cricket.
Shakib could have easily talked to team management and clarified his position if he wanted to. The same goes for the board and team management. They could have called Shakib and discussed and then come to a conclusion before talking to the media.
This is where it went wrong, both sides using the media as their tool to communicate among themselves. The bridge between the board and the players, which is breaking slowly but steadily over the years, is becoming more and more visible. The communication gap is at present so acute that they have to speak via the media to let their voices be heard.
The same kind of thing happened with Mashrafe after the 2019 Cricket World Cup. Everyone, including the board, was expecting him to retire, but he eventually did not. They asked Mashrafe to retire; they even made a special arrangement for him. But Mashrafe rejected it. Besides, some things were said from both sides that hurt. Mashrafe stepped down from captaincy with a heavy heart and is now preparing to spit out the truth.
And all these happened and are happening through the media.
It is curious. Shakib and Mashrafe are currently the most senior active cricketers out there, and even they cannot talk to the board freely and complain about their problems. Every time they say something, it becomes a huge issue all of a sudden.
The main problem probably lies there.
If the players, even the most senior ones, can't go to their guardians (here, the board), whom will they go to? The board president seems friendly, and the players apparently have 24/7 access to him to talk about their problems.
Is communication gap the only reason behind this? Or is there something else? Why can't players go to the board and talk about their problems and vice versa?
The visible communication gap is definitely a big reason why the players are going through the media to dish out their dirt and vice versa.
The ego problem might also be another reason. Both parties are thinking 'they should come first and talk' and are doing nothing. This ego problem is pretty prominent in our subcontinent. We've seen several times when neither party stepped up to discuss the issues among themselves; instead, they vented their frustration to the media and created an issue out of nowhere.
The players are probably thinking, 'The board is our guardian; they should take care of us and come to us to know about our problems' while the board is thinking 'why should we go to them? If they have anything to tell us, they should come first.' So no one is coming forward, and the media plays the third party to convey each other's message.
The blame game through the media only adds fuel to the fire rather than solving anything. And this 'come to me first' attitude from both parties ain't doing anyone any good.
For those who don't know the background, I'm referring to: ace all-rounder Shakib Al Hasan apparently threw some atom bombs during a live Facebook video with a sports portal a few days ago. And the chain reaction from those bombs went beyond our imagination.
It's nothing new given that Shakib was being Shakib and whatever he says becomes a controversy in a way or another.
So what did Shakib say, actually? During an hour-long live video with Cricfrenzy, he tried to clarify his decision to skip the upcoming Test series against Sri Lanka to play in IPL. The board members, especially Akram Khan, said 'Shakib doesn't want to play Tests' in the media after his
decision, and Shakib claimed this was completely wrong. He accused Akram Khan of not going through the request letter and mentioned there has hardly been any visible improvement in our 'pipeline' for which the ex-cricketers on the board have to be blamed.
BCB was quick to respond, and they took a terrible decision following Shakib's comment. They said they would 'rethink' their decision of letting Shakib play in the IPL instead of the national team as he has no problem playing Tests. In a way, they actually did what Shakib accused them of.
And this is surely not the end of this controversy, just yet.
The main talking point at this stage should have been how the team performs in the ODI and T20I series against New Zealand on their home soil and how the youngsters can fill in the absence of Shakib (the whole tour) and Tamim (in T20Is). But our focus is still on the blame game drama.
It's probably safe to say a lot of dirt is yet to be thrown and a handful of blames yet to be exchanged - all through the media.
The audience is eager to see what unfolds in the next episode; it will surely be more exciting. The question keeps bothering me - what's wrong with our cricket and what future awaits it. We probably shouldn't open that door. Or maybe, it's time.