Why players are excited by the BPL

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The dismal performance in the recent Test series in India has caused a lot of criticism of the Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) and the cricketers, who were unable to display the requisite mental and technical skills against a high-quality opposition.

With the players’ draft of the upcoming Bangladesh Premier League (BPL) taking place earlier this month, the enthusiasm among the players and the officials has already caught the eye. This season, the tournament will be a special edition with the BCB staging it on their own without the involvement of the franchises and naming it the Bangabandhu BPL in celebration of the 100th birth anniversary of father of the nation Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.

But there is an old complaint against the cricketers from board members and selectors, who say that the players tend to place the greatest priority on the glamorous T20 tournament, even more than playing first-class competitions.

Many have adopted a mocking tone while talking of the failure of the Bangladesh team in India, saying that it won’t take long for the players and the board to forget the dismal performance as they will be busy with the BPL, overlooking the need of the hour — improving the health of Bangladesh cricket.

Therefore, the question remains about why cricketers are so much keener to play the BPL than any other domestic tournament? According to chief selector Minhajul Abedin there is a need for change in the system and also said that the onus is on the cricketers to prepare themselves individually.

“There is a need for some change in the system and I will give a proper plan to the board within the next two days on what should be done like I had given a plan two years ago. When it comes to more interest in the BPL from the players than other domestic competitions, I think it is also because of the huge exposure they get in BPL. But it is also important for players to prepare themselves individually to meet the challenges in the international circuit,” Minhajul told The Daily Star yesterday.

But from the cricketers’ point of view, apart from the financial issue they also get a flavour of international cricket in the BPL.

Whether it is the five-star hotel accommodation, top-class net facilities and a totally different environment – the BPL offers conditions that local cricketers rarely encounter in first-class or club competitions.

Out-of-favour national cricketer Shamsur Rahman, who made his international debut back in 2013 after he finished among the top run-getters in the BPL for Rangpur Riders, informed that there are reasons for the players to give more importance to the cash-rich tournament.

“Look, cricket is our bread and butter and we always have the hunger to play, no matter what. You just can’t blame the cricketers and accuse us of a lack of hunger.

“Take India… they are telecasting their Ranji Trophy or any other first-class competitions on TV, which motivates players a lot. If he performs well, there would be high chances for a player to be picked in the national team as it has a huge impact on the fans too,” said Shamsur, who was the highest run-scorer in Tier 2 of the recently concluded National Cricket League for Dhaka Metro.

According to Shamsur, cricketers also do not practise with the ball that is used in matches in other domestic competitions.

“We play NCL with SG balls, the Dhaka League with Kookaburra, which we also played with in the BCL [Bangladesh Cricket League] in the previous season.

“But in the net sessions, we often get low-quality balls, so how do you expect us to enhance our skills properly?” Shamsur said.

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