Bangladesh Premier League 2012-13 January 17, 2013

BPL organisers bullish despite negative press

Pakistan's withdrawal may have taken some sheen off the BPL, but the tournament's survival still rests on the game's popularity in Bangladesh, and the optimism of the organisers

The Bangladesh Premier League begins its second season on Friday amid hope and expectation but also controversy and the wrong sort of headlines. The organisers will tell you not to judge BPL 2013 on its first week and it is true to an extent - all debate on the tournament's success or otherwise should be on hold until the replacements for the Pakistani players arrive.

The build-up of controversial issues over the last 11 months includes that of unsigned contracts, unpaid players from home and abroad and the pull-out of Pakistani players. It has culminated in the tournament beginning with mismanagement as the dominant theme and the amount of negative press about the BPL has already affected its image as a burgeoning Twenty20 competition.

The organisers too have changed after the Bangladesh Cricket Board's elected body of directors had finished their terms, and hence the new BPL governing council hasn't had enough time ahead of the tournament to put together a neat organisational unit. Instead, they were inundated with claims from unpaid players and running after franchises to sign the contract. Immediately after these issues were tackled, they had to deal with the Pakistan Cricket Board's hushed reluctance to send their players and the pull-out happened a before the opening ceremony.

The organisers, especially the new men in the BPL governing council, are confident of a successful tournament despite the setbacks. "Commercially, the BPL is in good health. We have more sponsors than from the last edition. The issue that is bothering us is the arrival of replacement players," said BPL secretary Ismail Haider Mallick.

"We have the likes of Kieron Pollard and Brett Lee lined up, but we are not sure when they can fly in. That'll be a problem for the franchises who depended on the Pakistani players."

There is still optimism about the tournament's viability among the financial backers and team owners as well. Tanjil Chowdhury, director of Prime Bank, the title sponsor, feels that there is no reason to pull out of the competition at this hour. "I don't think the cricket will be affected without the little glamour. It is not the end of the world. I think cricket has become a commercial success in Bangladesh, but this is definitely a problem," he said.

Some have cited the little impact the absence of the Pakistani players had on the IPL from the second season, but the BPL is not as financially strong as its Indian counterpart, and many questions have been thrown about its integrity, value and productivity.

While introducing Brian Lara as his team's brand ambassador, Chittagong Kings owner Sameer Quader Chowdhury was slightly more robust in his judgment of recent events. But Chowdhury is relatively in a better position than the other owners. He only has to replace two Pakistani players in Imran Nazir and Wahab Riaz, while Khulna Royal Bengals is still searching for a minimum of seven replacements.

"I don't think the value will depreciate in any way. If you notice, internationally, Pakistan players don't play a lot in other tournaments either so I don't think the value will decrease in our case," Chowdhury said. "I have heard that it's extremely difficult for other teams. I think if the decision was not taken yesterday but around 10 to 20 days back, we wouldn't have had so many problems."

The BPL has been criticised for many things. When it was first pitched, the tournament was viewed as a hindrance to the brimming talent pool in Bangladesh cricket, seen in many quarters as a trouble-maker rather than a tournament to churn out a new production line of players. It was expected that the players would appreciate the enhanced pay cheques but that too hasn't materialised for the locals. Cricket's popularity in the country will hold the BPL but any more of last season's shenanigans would tip it over the edge.

Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Smith on January 20, 2013, 23:50 GMT

    @TNAIndia: I'm not here to lie or most of us Bangladesh fans are not either, yes India is still a much better Cricket team than Bangladesh but your last statement to the ashes person is kind of stupid because Bangladesh have a fantastic youth system, system where these young inexperience guys will eventually have to fill the gaps left by legends like Sachin, Kallis, Ponting etc. I doubt young Indian bowlers like Sharma, Jadeja, Ashwin etc will destroy our batting line-up and pick up 4/5 wicket hauls just with the snap of your fingers or anything. They are no Kumble, Zaheer or whatever. Your youngsters coming up are probably no different to ours now i.e. Unmukt Chand who is talented but we have a better one Anamul Haque that's just one example.

  • Dummy4 on January 20, 2013, 23:29 GMT

    Wow! BCB unprofessional to pull out of tour...let me guess what happened to a team which went to Pak despite warning: SL were attacked...Rangana Herath and TM Dilshan say that experience was worse than the twitter death rumour...& we send our players to your! just wow! I dare you, double dare! say something against those who are creating these problems in your country...say it out loud, without fear...yep, you won't dare...& u ask us to send a team: we are the nation who gained Independence from your country...they would probably hate us 2nd most, after India...& talking of India...keep talking of how you played different, blah blah...if you are so brilliant, & have all these experienced, top-class players...then how did England & pak slaughter you so badly...yes, BD have problems, no denying...but they are on a learning curve...they have some raw, dynamic talents, who could do fantastically had they the resources and guidance you lot have...BD politics ruins cricket...

  • Chris on January 20, 2013, 11:31 GMT

    Its true even as a Bangladesh fan that the organisation is just bad. BCB need to learn to get their grip and stop damaging Bangladesh Cricket.

    For those critics, your views are just views, it has no affect and you guys don't have any skill or talent :P

  • Babaji on January 20, 2013, 10:39 GMT

    BPL is a local club level tournament in terms of viewership. I hope they figure out their problems and run it well for the club level.

  • Krishna on January 19, 2013, 20:56 GMT

    I wonder if Shakib is asked to make a choice between BPL or IPL what will he do....

  • Mohammad on January 19, 2013, 18:20 GMT

    BPL is not a matter of argument, it's a contribution to the World Cricket from Bangladesh. Any expectation of an unsuccessful season of BPL is not a good job. We love cricket, so want to spread good cricket over the world. Offcourse it will be more successful than first season even without prominent Pakistani cricketers.

  • Himanshu on January 19, 2013, 15:31 GMT

    A.Awal and Warm_Coffee, There you are again with the "India have been playing cricket for so long and we haven't" argument. Let's get one thing straight. Things were a lot different back then. International matches were played few and far between. Despite that, India took 24 matches to register their first win in Tests. Bangladesh had the support of other Asian nations and the ICC, had the opportunity to grow faster with better organisation and infrastructure in the sport than the old days and regular cricket being played nowadays, had massive fan support for the sport that new teams lack. Despite all this, they took 34 matches to win their first test match. We're not even talking about the fact that Bangladesh was once a part of India, and then Pakistan, hence they were a part of a test playing country themselves long back.

  • Shoaib on January 19, 2013, 13:45 GMT

    @TNAmarkFromIndia: Your arguments are pathetic, Mr Awal says it correctly,its ridiculous comparing India Cricket history with Bangladesh, India had full status since 1926 whereas Bangladesh 2000 do the maths. Past is the past its all about the present and future. Everyone finds it funny when Sachin scored a 100 against a minnow team and then lost should be ashamed :D

  • Abdul on January 19, 2013, 12:27 GMT

    TNAmarkFromIndia!!! Its look great you'r comparing BD team with India where India playing cricket over 80 years, As of today compare between BD and India team. I think BD have the same chances as India have. Forget what have done India and BD. Focus what will do BD and India in future. After Asia cup Bangladesh beat WI in an ODI series 3-2. If you do not have confident with BD then ask BCCI to host BD. Also BPL not comparable with IPL, India's market is very much larger then BD market. But with limited market and resources and 12 years cricket experience BCB did very well. They deserve a bid hand.

  • Himanshu on January 19, 2013, 11:15 GMT

    The_Ashes Really? We became the No. 1 Test team in the world in 2009, became the no. 1 ODIs team in the world in the same year and of course won the World Cup in 2011. All this happened after the IPL began in 2008. What has Bangladesh done since the BPL started? Reached the final of the Asia Cup? Which we have already won... 5 times. I find it funny that you make such a big deal of your win against India in the Asia Cup. Look at the. overall record. Played 24, India 21, Bangladesh 3. It took you 5 years to beat India in a match again and yet you're so full of yourself. That's alright though, I know you only have the expectations of a minnow team. That's all that Bangladesh will ever be.

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