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Cricket and the media

  • Published at 06:16 pm July 18th, 2017
  • Last updated at 06:49 pm July 18th, 2017
Cricket and the media

The gradual and definite evolution of the game and its media coverage have not been an easy journey. What we experience today may at times, for many of the past, seem surreal.

There are those of the past that believe that they are a forgotten breed and have not been given their due place in history and hence their feeling of disappointment, which may have led to a form of reluctance in wholeheartedly accepting the quality and success of the new generation.

Then we have the new generation who, unfortunately, have been deliberately given the impression by those who walked into our administration because of political maneouvring than anything else, that the older generation had no role or meaningful contribution towards the development of the game.

This unfortunate lack of respect among several members of both generations has been a man-made creation with the seeds of dissension being planted by some that may consider the older generation as a threat to their existence in today’s prosperous cricketing environment.

History is irreplaceable and, needless to mention, irrefutable.

When I was asked by Nazmul Amin Kiron to write a piece on the 40th anniversary of “Krira Jagat,” I thought of writing a piece that would carry a meaningful message for those who have the time to read it and, hopefully, appreciate it. Since its very early days, cricket struggled well into the late 70s and even in the early 80s. The BCCB (as it was initially known), depended on private sponsorship more than governmental assistance to carry out its annual programs.

It was a neglected sport as the NSCB pumped the majority of its funding in the common man’s game -- soccer. Good playing surfaces and adjoining fields were hard to come by. The National Stadium (now Bangabandhu stadium), originally constructed for cricket in 1954 to host the very first Pakistan-India Test match, had been turned into a full time soccer stadium.

Cricket’s place was the three limited grounds. They were grounds that had hurriedly prepared clay-based matting wickets and were mostly devoid of grass. At times, the mats were ripped at the bowlers crease and we had to navigate our steps to ensure that our boots did not get entangled at delivery point.

At the end of each match, there was a staff member or two of the NSCB (National Sports Control Board) whose job it was to water the surface and then relay the mat the following morning. Our drinks session was quite simple -- an aluminum bucket full of water with two aluminum glasses in them for 15 individuals to drink from.

Such was cricket at its best. Great thing about it was that we really looked forward to every match and no one complained.

Over time, we graduated to a clay-based turf wicket when one pitch was laid at the Abahani ground in Dhanmondi. This was widely used for various competitions including the National Championship matches. The style of serving drinks, however, remained the same. Do I have regrets? Not at all.

Just like the game, the media coverage was also extremely limited and brief. In spite of a lack of coverage in print media, those that did write, wrote with the passion and love for the sport.

There were a handful of sports journalists who covered the sport and there was no exclusive cricket specialist. All of them had to cover all sports under the NSCB banner, including kabaddi.

Unless it was a match that involved some of the big teams (usually four or five teams), the journalists barely came to the ground to cover the match. The usual norm was for them to drop into the two-roomed BCCB office in the evening where score-books of the matches played were turned in by the umpires.

Journalists collected the match result and noted down the main performers and, after some “camaraderie” time at Islamia Restaurant, the reports were written up to be published the following day.

Bangladesh cricket and the media have rightfully found their place in the global environment of international cricket

Individuals like Tawfiq Aziz Khan, Mohammed Qamruzzaman, Rouful Hasan, Masud Ahmed Rumi, Ajoy Barua, Saleque Sufi, Manjurul Huq, BD Mukherjee, Ataul Huq Mallik, Jalal Ahmed Chowdhury have been the stalwarts of print media in getting the game to the public through their match reports published in the major daily newspapers (Bangladesh Observer, Bangladesh Times, Dainik Bangla, Ittefaq, Daily Sangbad, etc).

Unlike today, none of the newspapers had photographers to cover the matches. During my entire cricketing career, there were only two notable photojournalists that we saw at all times during the major matches: Mohammed Iqbal from BSS and Khondkar Tareq from NSCB (Krira Jagat). Both Iqbal and Tareq were the most sought after individuals. Most significant photographs that I possess today of matches played in Bangladesh are from them.

We never had a journalist, let alone a photojournalist, to accompany the team when we played overseas and so we had to rely on our own cameras.

Even print media for the two ICC Trophies (1979 and 1982) had to depend on BSS getting telex messages from an entity like Reuters that simply reported brief scores and result of the matches.

In the ICC Trophy of 1982, Jalal Ahmed was working for Bangladesh Times. Before our departure for England, I was approached by Jalal to write the match reports from England and mail them to him. It was a long and arduous task, one that I thoroughly enjoyed.

The procedure was simple. There was no electronic device so they had to be hand-written. The entire tour was covered starting from the moment the team landed in London’s Heathrow. Bangladesh had played nearly 35 matches over a span of 45 days.

At times we were playing five to six matches in a row. The name “Tigers” was first used then. All my pieces were published under the main heading -- Bangladesh Tigers in England.

I used to keep notes of all the matches in a diary and would then write a week’s match report using the hotel stationary that was eventually mailed by regular post to Bangladesh Times.

It would be a week later that Jalal would summarise the report into one article and print them for the readers in Bangladesh. My report was the only source for the public to get some detailed report of our matches during that tour of 1982.

“Krira Jagat” came into play as the official media publication sponsored by NSCB. It was the very first sports magazine that highlighted our sporting environment. Its contribution and impact are huge.

For the first time there was an exclusive magazine dedicated to sports. Those who started it and continued to be a part of it deserve full credit and ought to be congratulated for the effort in keeping this publication afloat.

Today, it is a different ball game.

Bangladesh cricket and the media have rightfully found their place in the global environment of international cricket. It is indeed a refreshing sight and we should be proud of the fact that instant coverage is available in all formats. The media coverage seemed to have moved at the same pace as our cricket.

Yousuf Rahman Babu is a former national cricketer.

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