How Indian power play helped Bangladesh rise in cricket

AFP/New Delhi
Filed on February 6, 2017
Former BCCI president Jagmohan Dalmiya played a key role in Bangladesh getting Test status. (AFP file)

The virtually unanimous decision to make Bangladesh the 10th Test-playing nation was taken by ICC in June 2000

When India host a Test match against Bangladesh for the first time this week, it marks the culmination of a political power play which helped change the dynamics of world cricket.

The invitation to the one-off match in Hyderabad was a long time coming but the tourists remain grateful to their hosts for pushing their claim for Test status, a move that was beneficial to both sides.

"I think it was a very far-sighted move. Some would say it was political in terms of getting one more vote... in the ICC. That's a cynical way of looking at it," said Dileep Premachandran, editor-in-chief of Wisden India.

"Others would say he (Jagmohan Dalmiya) recognised the kind of passion that people in Bangladesh have for the game and, in the long run, the sport would benefit hugely from that."

The virtually unanimous decision to make Bangladesh the 10th Test-playing nation was taken by the International Cricket Council (ICC) in June 2000.

But it was India's aggressive championing of Bangladesh's cause that proved decisive, led by Dalmiya who was ICC president in 2000 after years at the helm of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI).

By working with Pakistan and Sri Lanka, Dalmiya had already loosened the grip of the game's traditional elite England and Australia, with the 1987 and 1996 World Cups co-hosted by the three South Asian teams.

And he knew that the presence of another of India's neighbours at cricket's top table would change the dynamic once and for all when it came to decisions such as where to hold major tournaments.

While the first three ODI World Cups all took place in England, the last three Twenty20 world championships have taken place in India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka with the South Asian bloc now able to call the shots.

India, which is the largest contributor to the ICC coffers, even has a guarantee of staging at least one major tournament every two years.

When Dalmiya died last year, Bangladesh's board said its "entry into the Test arena was the result of his foresight and sincere cooperation".

Senior cricinfo editor Sharda Ugra said Dalmiya "upset a lot of countries" by championing Bangladesh's cause but understood the benefits of building an Asian bloc that could challenge the established order. 

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