National coach fears ICL will cripple game in the country

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Dhaka, Nov 3 (UNI) With the Indian Cricket League (ICL) attracting more players, national coach Jamie Siddons fears that if the rebel league further poaches Bangladesh's top cricketers then it would cripple the sport in the country and jeopardise its Test status.

Siddons was of the opinion that if the team lose more players to the ICL, it would likely to end the Test status Bangladesh gained eight years ago.

''If we were to lose another six players out of our current team it probably would cripple us. I don't see how we can be competitive if that happens again,'' the former Australian cricketer said on the eve of the team's departure for South Africa on Saturday.

''I don't know how we stop them either, that's the hard part.

There's no way to put an end to it when Bangladesh's the ICL keeps throwing that sort of money at the players. Cricket is definitely going to suffer,'' Siddons asserted.

In September, Bangladesh cricket chiefs banned 13 players for 10 years after they signed with the unauthorised ICL, reportedly for 200,000 dollars each over a three-year period.

Led by former captain Habibul Bashar, Bangladesh cricketers are playing for Dhaka Warriors in the ongoing ICL.

However, Siddons, who was a former assistant coach with the Australian team, was engaged to convince his players to wait until they had retired from international cricket before signing with the ICL.

''They (ICL) are taking young players who are not even at their peak yet and offering them lots of money. The players see the dollar signs and go,'' the 44-year-old Australian said.

He further said in a country like Bangladesh, where there was non-existance of competitive, losing players at the international level has come at a heavy price.

''The countries are the ones that develop the cricketers the ICL takes, so if there's no money coming back from those tournaments and into the infrastructure then eventually it's all going to dry up,'' Saddins stated.

The coach was, however, happy with his team's maiden one-day victory over New Zealand last month in Dhaka.

But he regretted that two of the 13, who had left the team for ICL, would have been part of the national side and could have helped Bangladesh win more matches.

''The team averages one or two wins like that a year, even less sometimes, depending on the tournaments we play,'' said Siddons.

''It's the first time that we've beaten New Zealand. We should have won the series.'' Bangladesh lost the three-match series 2-1 against New Zealande, led by Daniel Vettori, after winning the first one-dayer.

Siddons, who was appointed as the national coach last year, said he was looking forward to the 2011 World Cup to be held in the sub-continent.

''We've had four or five guys who've made hundreds against good teams. They have never done it before in the past six or seven months.

''We've just beaten New Zealand for the first time, so lots of little things are showing signs that some good times are just round the corner. But the team is young and inconsistency is still there,'' he said.

Siddons further said the top-order batsmen would hold the key to the team's success in South Africa.

''They are vulnerable at the moment but if they find their feet we'll be competitive without a doubt. Our middle-order batsmen and bowling will be okay, I think, over there,'' he added.

On Wednesday, Bangladesh will open its tour with a Twenty20 match in Johannesburg. They will then play three One-day Internationals and two Tests.

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