BPL kicks off, and so does controversy!
What has our cricket got from the splendid opening ceremony of Bangabandhu BPL 2019, held in Sher-e-Bangla National Cricket Stadium, Mirpur, on 8th December, Sunday 2019? As a passionate cricket lover this question was unstoppably popping through my mind since my eyes were glued on the GTV screen in Sunday evening watching the duo- Bollywood superstar Salman Khan and Katrina Kaif, performing on the stage. One may try to convince me by labelling that extravagant inauguration as an effort by BCB to promote and brand BPL and our cricket.
But here again, a barrage of whispered questions gets louder: Where is the difference between a typical concert held in Bangladesh Army stadium and Bangabandhu BPL opening ceremony? How much does an event which has literally zero involvement with cricketers promote our cricket? Could the event appeal to the taste of millions of our cricket fans? When our performance in test cricket reaches it's all time-low, infrastructure outside Dhaka is horrible to say the leastand pipeline produces no international level's players, an event of that magnitude devoid of any cricketing sense is a sheer wastage of money and completely of no use.
With an intention to give our local players an exposure, and build their temperament by giving them an opportunity to share dressing rooms with big players the Bangladesh Premier League (BPL) was launched back in 2012. But ever since the inception, BPL has been synonymous with controversy. At times, I wonder in disbelief what the controversy lefts for this cash-rich franchise league! Match-fixing, spot fixing, non-payment of players, poor umpiring, substandard broadcasting , unprofessional TV host, amateur commentators, favouritism, empty gallery, flawed players drafting, low-grade pitches were all that mired BPL in controversy over the years.
When all these issues cheapen the standard of the tournament, expecting a quality player to come out of this event is nothing but building castle in the air.
If we look back, we can see that some of our local players did make an impact in the most coveted league drawing attention and trusts of the selectors. But soon after their debuts in international circuit we saw how miserably they struggled to cope with the pressure of global stage. Bleak statistics of one of our rarely found local BPL performers Ariful Haque who averages 14.80 in 9 matches in international T20s tells it all--where BPL stands when it comes to making new players.
Abu Hider Rony, another star in BPL, showed a brilliant performance in the BPL-2015 but his international career in t20 (only 6 wickets in 13 matches) does not offer us much to rely on BPL while selecting a player for national side. To make the things worse, BCB has a completely different view about BPL. They still believe BPL is the second best franchise league in the world after IPL.
However, after all the hue and cries, this year we cricket fans of Bangladesh dreamt of watching a BPL with a difference as this time the name of the contest had been changed to Bangabandhu BPL to celebrate the year of our father of nation's 100th birth anniversary. But the first shock came for the cricket enthusiasts in the country when the news broke out that the BCB would finance all the teams rather than the regular owners who patronized their respective teams in the preceding season.
Now the question comes--will it be a competitive tournament when BCB is the owner of all seven teams? As the things stood at such, the tournament could not attract our cricket fraternity at all, nor could it create a storm of hype. The publicity of the event was not seen anywhere other than in some TV channels making their regular sports reports on this. Here the most ridiculous aspect that really took me by surprise and shock was a TV report aired in Ekattor TV.
The report made by a sports reporter, said that even the journalists and players, let alone the fans, had been unaware of the names of all the seven teams contesting in the tournament. Can you believe it? What does it prove? It simply proves that BCB has completely failed to bring a cricket fever in the country before the tournament and Salman-Katrina were their trump cards to sweep their organizational weaknesses under the carpet.
BCB's lack of proper marketing plan and coordination is also evident as the name of official sponsor of Bangabandhu BPL was announced just on the day before opening ceremony. Finally, the ticket price for the inaugural event was immensely high for the cricket loving fans. In order to set the price tag which was between Tk1000 and Tk10000, BCB should have taken into consideration the demands of cricket-maniac people and, of course, not the concert lovers.
Despite BCB getting ample time to be prepared to arrange a memorable Bangabandhu BPL, they could not come out of their usual drawbacks and shortcomings. There is an old English adage, "Rome wasn't built in a day", which tells us that nothing great can be done in short period of time. It needs relentless time, effort, money and patience. With experience great works take place. But how many more years do our cricket-policymakers need to arrange a BPL free from all controversies?
Faisal Ahmed teaches English Language, ABC International School, Narayanganj