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Why fining Tamim Iqbal will make little sense

Tamim Iqbal punches with a high elbow Getty Images

The BCB's hardline on disciplinary matters has the dual effect of pleasing many cricket fans but also making some players uncomfortable about expressing themselves.

Cases in point: Sabbir Rahman's punishment, and Tamim Iqbal's proposed fine. There is hardly a fan in Bangladesh who feels that the sanctions imposed on Sabbir is anything other than what he deserves. But the proposal to penalise Tamim for his comments on the condition of the playing field in Mirpur during a BPL match is the BCB enforcing a severe form of censorship.

After Comilla Victorians and Rangpur Riders struggled to get past 100 in their game on December 2, Tamim had heavily criticised the pitch and wondered whether the curator could have worked harder on it. He also made a passing mention of the outfield, but seemed mainly frustrated by how Mirpur couldn't produce a better T20 pitch.

He said: "It is a horrible, horrible, horrible wicket. We had ten days off, but the curator could not prepare a good wicket. The crowd does not come to see a 90-95 wicket."

Later, at the press conference, Tamim spoke in a similar tone, adding that the outfield didn't look green enough. This, of course, is the same outfield that the ICC tagged "poor" after the Dhaka Test in August, resulting in the BCB incurring two demerit points. The Mirpur outfield and drainage system has long been lauded for its consistency, except this past year when massive redevelopment work - and delays in the same - have got in the way.

On January 1, board president Nazmul Hassan said that Tamim's comments on the outfield and curator Gamini Silva were what got him into trouble, not his criticism of the pitch. "Tamim, like anyone else, can talk about the pitch, but why did he speak about the outfield?" Hassan said. "What was wrong with the outfield? Why did he talk about the curator? We have already incurred two demerit points for the outfield after the Australia Test. There won't be any matches in Dhaka if it reaches four demerit points. A captain can't speak in this way, he has to be more responsible."

Hassan said that Tamim's comments were "dangerous" to Bangladesh cricket, given two more demerit points could leave the BCB without Mirpur as an accredited venue. For his part, Hassan doesn't flinch when it comes to telling the media regularly of the team's plans for the 2019 World Cup, which players should be chosen in the squad, and how senior players like Tamim and Mushfiqur Rahim should behave. By the BCB's high disciplinary standards, all of this doesn't quite add up.

But Hassan had an example to offer: "Players wore masks while playing in Delhi [in the India-Sri Lanka series last month]. But all the [Indian] players returned to the field as soon as their captain [Virat] Kohli made a gesture with his hand. None of them complained about the conditions that day.

"So why would our well-known player, our vice-captain, talk about the outfield and pitch, that too in the media? Can he change anything saying these things? If he had told us, we could have helped him."

It is hard not to appreciate Hassan's push towards a disciplined team after Mustafa Kamal, his predecessor in the BCB, proved to be a lenient leader. Hassan broke through in 2014 by suspending Shakib Al Hasan for six months on disciplinary grounds - though the penalty was later reduced. Hassan oversaw the BPL tribunal that ended up punishing Mohammad Ashraful, the former Bangladesh captain, for corruption in the T20 league. Pacer Al-Amin Hossain was sent back home from the 2015 World Cup after breaking the team curfew in Brisbane, while the BCB has also been severe on Sabbir in the past.

But the BCB's - proposed - stance on Tamim has the feel of some board directors taking his criticisms personally. If sanctions are brought against him, it could end up diluting the board's steady progress in bringing discipline to Bangladesh cricket.