Our national cricket hero Shakib Al Hasan has recently been banned from all three formats of international cricket for the next two years. Shakib, one of the best cricketing all-rounders of all time and the current number one in ODI cricket, has now been grounded from his sporting performance.
We could sense the gasping sadness of Shakib while he was announcing his reaction in the post-verdict press conference. Shakib, who has been the most instrumental figure in any form of Bangladeshi sports by making a name for his country and his nation around the globe, is now a sentenced cricketer.
He is the one who led his team with pride and performance along the last Cricket World Cup and millions of Bangladeshi cricket fans boldly cheered for the Bangladesh team playing the World Cup final match.
Shakib turned into a global ambassador for cricket, a role model for thousands of budding cricketers throughout the country and a strong sporting backbone for a nation which already started to show its perks in different sectors of development, of which cricket is one.
Added to this fact is Bangladesh's standing as the fourth most cricket-revenue generating nation in the world. Hence cricket, if not a religion, is the name of an ardent passion, a craze in Bangladesh and an occasion when we can claim something and someone to be "ours."
Because of Shakib, we can again become "we," forgetting we/they binary narrative.
Let's come to the point. What was Shakib's fault for which the Bangladeshi Tendulkar was named a convict? Simply speaking, he was accused of not informing to International Cricket Council's Anti-Corruption Unit of an attempted act of extracting team information by someone named Deepak Agarwal via several Whatsapp messages.
He neither acted on any of the attempts, nor responded to any of the messages concerning financial dealing. He just did not inform the Anti-Corruption Unit. That's the extent of his crimes and he now must serve 24-months for it.
The process seems to simplistic and too generalized considering such a long game-changing verdict. Some questions do arise in our layman minds.
An investigation, which has been running for about two years, announced its judgement just a couple of days before a key series with India. It is too long a period to just decode a few Whatsapp messages and find their connection to a so-far incognito bookie Mr Agarwal, isn't it?
Isn't the timing also fishy when Pakistani fast bowler Shoaib Akhter posts his criticism against the Bangladesh Cricket Board chief on Social media, Bangladesh Cricket Team goes on strike against the board and like a bolt from the blue, Shakib's tough sanction is declared?
Tough because, considering Shakib's cricketing stature, such a decision demoralises not only the player concerned but also frustrates a nation and depresses his fellow cricketers. As Shakib thought Agarwal's moves were dodgy, so I consider recent turmoil over our national sporting resource like cricket are equally dodgy.
Dodgy because we are still in the dark regarding the nature of Shakib's offence, which cost him a great deal and might also cost a nation a great deal.
We still don't know who this Deepak Agarwal is, or have any clue about his whereabouts. We just know from an online database that the Agarwal family has a lineage mainly in Rajasthan, Punjab, Haryana, especially in the northern parts of India and that they are mainly known for their "business skills."
No surprise there! Hence, this information even might not help much. So, is Agarwal (or is it just another code-name?) a Derridean ghost who remains invisible and only in codes? We believe the International Cricket Council did not accuse Shakib for responding to some tampered or even planted communications.
Will the council reveal Agarwal's identity and take legal action within their jurisdictions against Agarwal or will the Agarwals remain untouchable after selectively victimizing and weakening the sporting cornerstone of a nation?
If any X, Y or Z send any unguarded texts via Whatsapp to any player, can those texts serve as a valid point to excommunicate a player just for not informing, let alone acting upon it?
Is the text-sender above any trial or his/her trial would be undercover?
If just receiving texts becomes a juridical evidence to ban any player,then it is a good news for bookies and for conspiracy-thinktanks. Then anyone can plant a texting plan to pull the rug out of a player's feet.
After all, by texting a player and then informing the International Cricket Council of the act someone can easily play the good guy or even can earn some dollars. Hence, a thorough investigation into the bookie and his allies' identity and putting them to trial is no less than a justifiable demand.
Even the involvement of the one who gave Shakib's contact to the bookie has to be investigated.
Shakib and the Bangladesh Cricket Board have shown their sportsmanship and respect to the law of the International Cricket Council by accepting the verdict. But questions will remain if the sports-gamblers are allowed to walk free, if the nexus of bookies and bettors is not dealt with and if any bias corrupts any judgement.
Like a number of people in the country, we cannot help smelling a conspiracy against Bangladesh. As the conspiracy theory in political science suggests, to prevent a nation from moving forward, you have to brake the sectors where it is excelling.
As Shakib's ban sounded like a deep shock to Nazmul Hassan Papon, so it was devastating to the whole nation, especially to his fellow teammates who were in a flight of moral boosters after the World Cup performance.
Shakib will come back after two years, fingers crossed, but the moral damage caused by a certain Agarwal will remain in his mind. His absence might cause substantial material loss for the Bangladesh Cricket Board, but the immaterial aftermath that such a ban would cast onto our cricket culture and performance might not be so easily overcome.
We all hope and believe that Shakib will return with doubled vigour and be "luxurious by restraint," and the conspirators will be brought to light.
Kazi Ashraf Uddin is an Associate Professor at the Department of English, Jahangirnagar University