India's rebel cricket league has the potential to cripple the sport in Bangladesh and jeopardise its Test status if it poaches more players from the national squad, coach Jamie Siddons has said.
He said losing more players to the Indian Cricket League (ICL) would likely spell the end of Test status Bangladesh gained eight years ago.
"If we were to lose another six players out of our current team it probably would cripple us. I don't see how we can be competitive if that happens again," he said on the eve of the team's departure for South Africa on Saturday.
"I don't know how we stop them either, that's the hard part. There's no way to put an end to it when the ICL keeps throwing that sort of money at the players. Cricket is definitely going to suffer."
Bangladesh cricket chiefs in September banned 13 players for 10 years after they signed with the unauthorised ICL, reportedly for 200,000 dollars each over a three-year period.
The Bangladeshi cricketers, led by former captain Habibul Bashar, are playing for Dhaka Warriors in the ongoing ICL.
Siddons, a former assistant coach with the Australian team, said he was trying to encourage his players to wait until they had retired from international cricket before signing with the ICL.
"They (ICL) are taking young players who are not even at their peak yet and offering them lots of money. The players see the dollar signs and go," he said.
Siddons said in a country like Bangladesh, where competitive domestic cricket was non-existent, losing players at international level came at a heavy price.
"The countries are the ones that develop the cricketers the ICL takes, so if there's no money coming back from those tournaments and into the infrastructure then eventually it's all going to dry up," he said.
Although happy with his team's maiden one-day victory over New Zealand last month in Dhaka, Siddons said two of the 13 who had left would have been part of the national side and could have helped Bangladesh win more matches.
"The team averages one or two wins like that a year, even less sometimes, depending on the tournaments we play," said Siddons.
"It's the first time that we've beaten New Zealand. We should have won the series."
Bangladesh lost the three-match series 2-1 against Daniel Vettori's New Zealanders after winning the first one-dayer.
Australia-born Siddons, in the job for a year, said he was looking forward to the 2011 World Cup to be held in the sub-continent.
"We've had four or five guys who've made hundreds against good teams. They have never done it before in the past six or seven months," said Siddons.
"We've just beaten New Zealand for the first time, so lots of little things are showing signs that some good times are just round the corner. But the team is young and inconsistency is still there."
Siddons said the top-order batsmen would hold the key to the team's success in South Africa.
"They are vulnerable at the moment but if they find their feet we'll be competitive without a doubt. Our middle-order batsmen and bowling will be okay, I think, over there," he said.
Bangladesh open the tour with a Twenty20 match in Johannesburg on Wednesday. They will then play three one-day internationals and two Tests.