|ICL Chairman Kapil Dev, centre, chats with Bangladeshi cricketers, from left Alok Kapali, Shahriar Nafis, Dhiman Ghosh and Habibul Basher who are playing for Dhaka Warriors [AFP]
Habibul Bashar, who led a defection of 13 first-class Bangladesh cricketers to join the Indian Cricket League, has denounced a 10-year ban placed upon them as unfair.
"We have done nothing wrong. We are just going to play cricket," Bashar, a former Bangladesh captain, said on his return home from India, where he and his colleagues signed for a new ICL team, Dhaka Warriors.
The Bangladesh Cricket Board said it will ban the players from representing the country for 10 years if they take part in any unsanctioned league.
Bashar said he was "deeply hurt" by the decision of the BCB and urged it reconsider the ban.
"We did not deserve this punishment. It's so unfair," Bashar said.
Maj. Gen. Sinha Ibn Jamali, President of the BCB said the decision will be "effective equally for contracted players or coaches if they participate in any cricket tournament without any approval of the ICC (International Cricket Council) or the BCB."
The players, including several test players and a former test skipper, have joined the newly formed Dhaka Warriors team that will compete in the ICL, a Twenty20 league that is not internationally recognised because it runs in competition to the officially sanctioned Indian Premier League.
Dhaka Warriors will be the second ICL team outside India after the Lahore Badshahs.
The team also includes recent internationals Aftab Ahmed, Alok Kapali, Shahriar Nafees, Farhad Reza, Dhiman Ghosh and Mosharraf Hossain.
The team, which will be coached by former India player Balwinder Sandhu,
also includes four past Bangladesh players, retired left-arm spinner Mohammad Rafique, pacemen Tapash Baishya, Manjurul Islam and Mohammad Sharif.
The others are Golam Mabud, a reserve wicketkeeper, and Mahbubul Karim, part
of the Bangladesh Academy team currently touring Sri Lanka.
Bangladesh are confident the exodus of players to the unofficial Indian Cricket League (ICL) would not cripple the national team in next month's home series against New Zealand, a cricket official said.
"No doubt it is a setback for us," Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) media chief Ahmed Sazzadul Alam said.
"But we are confident that we have enough players in the pipeline to fill the void.
Bangladesh, who play three one-dayers and two tests against New Zealand, have only won one of their previous 53 tests (47 defeats) since making their debut in 2000.
|Players like Mohammad Ashraful, who haven't defected to ICL, will form the main backbone of the Bangladesh ODI team [GALLO/GETTY]
"The players waiting in the pipeline are equally talented," Alam said.
"The only thing we will be missing is the experience of a few players."
Alam said many key players had not joined ICL.
"Most of the players like Mohammad Ashraful, Mashrafe Mortaza, Sakib Al Hassan, Tamim Iqbal, Abdur Razzak and Shahadat Hossain who are regulars in the national team, are still with us.
"Our bowling department is not at all affected with their departure."
New Zealand test
New Zealand arrive in Bangladesh on September 30 and play two ODIs in Dhaka on October 9 and 11 with the final game in Chittagong on October 14.
The tests will be played in Chittagong and Dhaka from October 17 and 25 respectively.
The BCB officials are also hopeful its depleted team and the Australian test tour of India happening around the same period would not affect the interest in the Bangladesh series and its income.