Bangladesh's cricket coach on Wednesday denied the sport was in crisis after 13 players quit to play for a rebel Indian Twenty20 league, but said officials must prevent any more from leaving.
Australian-born Jamie Siddons told AFP via telephone from Brisbane, where he is being treated for a shoulder injury, that the news of the exodus this week had not come as a complete surprise.
"I think everyone knew this was waiting in the wings," he said.
The Indian Cricket League (ICL) unveiled its new Dhaka Warriors team on Tuesday evening in New Delhi, which comprises 11 Bangladesh internationals reportedly earning 200,000 dollars each over a three-year period.
Players aligned with the ICL are banned from playing official domestic and international cricket.
Siddons, who joined Bangladesh a year ago, said he was trying to look to the future, particularly to the 2011 World Cup that will be hosted by India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.
"I think it's impossible to get them back," Siddons said of the ICL signees.
"We can't afford to lose that many players on a regular basis. We'll replace these guys with young players but my biggest concern is that the ICL will come knocking again next year.
"We've been looking to build strength ahead of the World Cup in 2011 and that hasn't changed."
Siddons will return to Dhaka on Sunday to prepare for New Zealand's tour of Bangladesh starting next month, comprising two Tests and three one-day internationals.
"All I'll say is we haven't lost one player who was in the team for the last Test," he said.
He had not spoken to any of the players who were moving to the ICL, bankrolled by India's largest listed media company Zee Telefilms, since they retired from Bangladeshi cricket.
"There were a few people with the wrong thing on their mind. The guys who were going are gone and the guys who are staying can get on with the job."
Of the 13 players who have signed with the ICL, seven are contracted to the national team.
The Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) was due to meet at 3 p.m. local time (0900 GMT) Wednesday to discuss whether it would take legal action against the players for breaching International Cricket Council (ICC) rules.
The meeting comes a day after it announced it would not accept the players' retirements.
Bangladesh captain Mohammad Ashraful told leading Bengali language newspaper 'Prothom Alo', in an interview published Tuesday, that he was offered a 700,000-dollar contract to play in the ICL, which he declined.