It is surprising how miniscule and often insignificant events are catalysts for
monumental changes. A few weeks ago an important but a rather uneventful piece
of news slipped by without much fanfare. It wasn’t a great a new cricket
find or an exciting win by our younger team but an initiative by BCB to recruit
the emerging corporate houses of Bangladesh into club level league cricket. The
bosses of Bangladesh cricket are doing many fine things right now and the announcement
of a Corporate Cricket League is one of them.
“Company” connection or the sweeter term “Patronage” is
an essential ingredient for any upcoming nation and its history goes back a
long time. People like Rhodes in South Africa, Lord Sheffield in Australia
have literally been instrumental in lifting the respective countries from the
backwaters and to make cricket a regular event among the people of the Cape
and Down Under. At an important crossroad in Australia’s history, the
Sheffield Shield competition of Australia was formed with the help of 150 pounds
from Lord Sheffield, and it grew to be the strongest domestic competition in
world cricket. As such, it was to underpin the success of the Australian Test
side for over a century.
In South Africa, the legacy of Rhodes in the form of De Beers and Standard
Bank, has continued to support the game of cricket because of their inherent
love of the game. As a domino effect, its diverse strength in business helped
many other smaller companies to gain the financial means to sponsor smaller
teams. Thousands of cell phones, millions of litres of soft drinks, tyres,
diamonds and the millions banked inside Standard Bank indirectly links cricket
in South Africa to a stable source of funding.
Yes, it’s a lopsided patronage, which draws suspicions from certain
quarters. But let’s face it, the twin arms of world sports are television
and sponsorship. They bring in the money, they create stars and they inspire
newer generations to embrace the sport. Political patronage is great but Cricket
should not be at the mercy of government hand-outs. Even worse, the dependency
of the game for sustenance under the umbrella of the government and bureaucracy
needs to be slowly cut down. So in the meantime, the only way to create a healthy
situation is to encourage responsibility from these new corporate players.
Above all, Cricket in Bangladesh needs “sincere” patronage. The
kind of patronage that the DeBeers has offered South Africa. In this regard
everyone should be vigilant to check that the motivation of everyone involved
in cricket, including these new corporate players, is honest and positive.
Bangladesh cricket stands at a similar crossroad of history experienced by
the older playing countries generations ago. The team under Whatmore will undoubtedly
perform like a respected test nation and will be great ambassadors for the
game and the country. Thankfully, the ICC is very anxious in their attempt
to solidify the game in the country and to give many under-privileged boys
a chance to play. In this endeavor, the stage is set for a remarkable opportunity
to provide sincere and loyal patronage to see through the development of our
Cricket for generations.