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Revamp of BD first-class structure on cards

International Desk |
Update: 2014-09-27 05:29:00
Revamp of BD first-class structure on cards

DHAKA: An overhaul of Bangladesh's domestic first-class structure could be mooted at Tuesday's BCB board meeting, with the region-based National Cricket League (NCL) being replaced by a tournament featuring the six top Dhaka clubs.

The primary reason for the move, if it were to be sanctioned, would be to lift the quality of first-class cricket in the country. 

The NCL had been Bangladesh's only first-class competition till the 2012-13 season, when the Bangladesh Cricket League (BCL), a zonal first-class competition, was introduced to give the four-day format a quality boost. Since it was launched in 1999, there has been criticism of the NCL's on and off-field quality by players and officials.

Khaled Mahmud, the former Bangladesh captain and a BCB director, confirmed that there has been discussion on a proposed change, but said it is something that is still quite far from seeing the light of day as there are still several details to be debated. 

"We have only discussed this [proposing to change the structure of the NCL]," Mahmud told. "There has a lot of talk about the NCL not providing enough competition, the players often call it "picnic cricket". I haven't received the agendas of the meeting on Tuesday. It is likely to be discussed in the meeting too, but there are several areas of concern in making such a change."

The first major hurdle would be to convince the Dhaka clubs to take part in a first-class competition in addition to the Dhaka Premier League, the domestic 50-overs competition, which they play every season. At the same time, it will also be difficult to convince the regional sides to give up their biggest tournament.

The term "picnic cricket" has stuck with the NCL for a long time. The regional sides go to training a week, sometimes a few days, before the start of the tournament and matches are often played at a leisurely pace. Besides, the tournament is often held when the Bangladesh and Bangladesh A teams are playing elsewhere, or only after the Dhaka Premier League.

For the first few years, players had complained about poor pitches, which were either too flat or too dry. The teams also said they were not provided enough money by the BCB to start training camps early. 

The BCB eventually raised match fees and, before leaving office, former BCB president Mustafa Kamal introduced a salary structure for first-class cricketers.

Qualitative problems remain, however, and with Rangpur being recognised as the seventh division in the NCL in the 2011-12 season, the competitiveness has thinned a little more. 

Since professional cricket is predominantly based in Dhaka and few good leagues operate in other major centres like Chittagong, Khulna or Barisal, those divisional sides have found it hard to form quality teams. To deal with this issue, for several seasons, the national selectors have tried redirecting players into the participating teams irrespective of where they came from, to have a more balanced competition, but this move has been criticised for taking the regional element out of the NCL.


BDST: 1524 HRS, SEP 27, 2014

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