Khaled Mahmud stirs conflict of interest storm

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Sujon5Sports desk: When BCB president Nazmul Hassan identified Khaled Mahmud as the frontrunner to be the interim head coach of Bangladesh, various potential conflicts came starkly into view.

Mahmud is currently a BCB director and if he is ultimately given the temporary job, he will be the first director-cum-coach in world cricket. Even for someone who was an allrounder during his playing career, this dual role will be something.

But this is not the first time Mahmud finds himself juggling several roles. He has been Bangladesh’s team manager on a number of occasions since the 2015 World Cup. He has also been head coach of Dhaka Premier League side Abahani Limited for the past three seasons, head coach of the BPL team Dhaka Dynamites since 2016, and a national selector since 2016.

Wait. There’s more. Mahmud is the vice-president of players’ association – the Cricketers Welfare Association of Bangladesh (CWAB). Naimur Rahman is president. Both Naimur and Mahmud are also BCB directors which puts them, theoretically, at both ends of the bargaining table for cricketers’ rights.

And it does not end there. Mahmud is also head coach of Shinepukur Cricket Club, the Dhaka First Division Cricket League champions who earned promotion to the 2017-18 DPL, and Bangla Trac Cricket Academy. During the BCB directors’ last term, he was chairman of the BCB’s development committee, which meant he headed a department that finds and hones talent from across the country while working for a privately-owned academy that provides talent.

All of these roles have made Mahmud arguably the most influential policy-maker in Bangladesh cricket. He has authority over senior team selection while at the same time being in charge of two of the top domestic teams in the country.

Last year, when he was appointed to the selection committee, questions were raised that the captain should have been part of it instead of the manager. But BCB chief Hassan explained that it was only because of Mahmud that the team manager was being made a selector, not the other way around.

Mahmud has, in the past, understood the problems leading so many roles could cause. In January 2013, he quit the BCB’s ad-hoc committee to join Chittagong Kings’ as coach in the BPL to avoid a conflict of interest.

“Without any doubt it was a great honour for me when I was included on the ad-hoc committee,” Mahmud had said at the time. “It would have been nice if I continued, but the reality is different for me.

“I have to earn money for my livelihood, so there was no other choice rather than taking the decision to continue as coach of the Chittagong Kings. I talked with [Nazmul Hassan] Papon bhai. Actually it was not possible to continue with both jobs as there was a conflict of interest.”

Nine months later, he was elected board director and then took on all of those roles.

Mahmud is not alone. The board president Hassan and director Ismail Haider Mallick, who is also the BPL governing council’s secretary, are employees of Beximco Group, which owns the BPL side Dhaka Dynamites and Shinepukur Cricket Club. Khulna Titans is owned by Kazi Inam Ahmed, who is also a current BCB director; the team employs Habibul Bashar as well, who is on the Bangladesh selection panel. Meanwhile, chief selector Minhajul Abedin is working for Chittagong Vikings in this season’s BPL.

The BCB has, in practice, allowed for these conflicts of interest. Club officials have always held powerful positions in the cricket board. When re-writing its constitution in 2017, the board had an opportunity to address this issue in a more detailed manner but chose to ignore it completely.Some argue that a lack of quality administrators leaves the BCB with no choice. But the board has also mostly preferred to rely on Dhaka-based officials to run it; if they spread their net wider, they wouldn’t have the problem of quantity. Developing quality is then a matter of time.

Perhaps it is time for the BCB to adopt the Cricket Australia (CA) model. CA changed their governance plan in 2012 so that the board is an independent entity containing nine directors. None of them are allowed to be directors or chairmen of their member associations.

There are some like Mark Taylor (New South Wales) or Tony Harrison (Tasmania) who used to be, but they had to resign from state posts during an interim process from 2012 to 2014. The only potential conflict now is Taylor being board director and also a Channel Nine commentator.

When asked about his dual role, Naimur said that CWAB representation in the board is helpful as it gives the representative a position to talk and work as a partner with the board. The CWAB already has a designated councillorship in the BCB apart from Naimur (a BCB councillor through Manikganj district) or Mahmud (BCB councillor in the cricketers’ quota).

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