'Bangladesh got Test status too soon' | india | Hindustan Times
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'Bangladesh got Test status too soon'

Former ICC President Mani feels the world body made a 'mistake' to prematurely accord Test status to Asian minnows since it wasn't ready.

india Updated: Jul 17, 2006 17:21 IST

Former ICC President Ehsan Mani feels it was a "mistake" to prematurely accord Test status to Bangladesh, while wondering how BCCI, the richest cricket body, has managed to do away with professionalism so far.

Mr Mani, who paved way for South African Percy Sonn, told Cricinfo magazine that Bangladesh were slowly showing signs of improvement but it was a hasty decision to accord Test status to them.

"Yes, we made a mistake, we brought them into Test cricket too soon. I don't believe they were ready," he said.

He felt the ICC also erred in withdrawing the High Performance Programme.

"But having brought them in, the biggest mistake we made was the withdrawal of the ICC High Performance Programme. We should have continued with it, helped their player development, and maybe limited them to home Tests for the first five years, while encouraging other members to send A teams. That's what used to happen. The MCC used to go out and play countries like Pakistan before Test status, and it was only when they felt they were ready that they allowed them to come in."

The former ICC chief, however, felt that the Bangla tigers were gradually getting in the grooves.

"They are slowly getting there -- the key about the country is their fanatical support. That in itself is going to throw up a huge number of cricketers, and there'll be some good quality ones in there as well," he elaborated.

On BCCI, the first Pakistani chief of the governing body felt professionalism was never the forte of the board but things are changing under the new regime.

"India is the largest cricket nation in the world, but the BCCI still hasn't evolved into a professionally run body. It's remarkable how they've managed to run cricket in the loose way they have.

"But what is good is that the curent board understands the issue and is now in the process of putting up a permanent office and employing permanent staff. In the past, everything was done on a voluntary basis. That professionalism has to come in, and when that happens, there will be someone who knows what you can and can't do," he explained.

The former President also claimed that ICC played a pivotal role in bringing India-Pakistan closer to each other.

"...The ICC played a big, big role in bringing those two countries together. We had to meet with the heads of government in Pakistan and several very senior ministers in India, and the message I carried from one government to the other was 'Don't let politics come in the way of sports" he said.

On India's historic tour of Pakistan in 2004, Mr Mani said resumption of cricketing ties between the neighbours eased the strained relations.

"That did a huge amount to defuse tensions between the countries, and even the United Nations recognised the fact. (UN Secretary General) Kofi Annan got in touch, saiyng that it was probably the best thing that cricket has ever done, breaking down those barriers," he explained.

Mr Mani also asserted that money is not soul of the game but quality is.

"Everyone says that Asia is now the powerhouse of the game, but last year's Ashes showed that the dominance really lies wherever there is good cricket being played," he added.