Bangladesh hopes to be ready for 2014 World T20
On July 1, 2010 the ICC announced the names of two countries that would host the 2012 and 2014 World Twenty20s; it hardly created a ripple in either one of them. Sri Lanka and Bangladesh were busy preparing for the next event on the horizon, the 2011 World Cup, while it was also in the middle of the football World Cup, not many Bangladeshis would have noticed it. But two years on from the announcement, with both having co-hosted the 50-over tournament, one of them has just completed the enormous task of hosting a global event solely. Bangladesh will host a bigger event, but as they have shown in 1998, 2004 and 2011, infrastructural limitations have been trumped by an abundance of hospitality and fervour.
The 2014 World Twenty20 is likely to be held in March and April of that year, a largely dry weather period towards the end of the winter with spring taking over, as opposed to the constant threat of rain during the 20-day event in Sri Lanka. It is also a time for celebrations in the country, starting from Independence Day to the Bengali New Year's Day Pohela Boishakh in mid-April.
The number of participating teams in the men's event has been increased to 16 (the number for the women remains unchanged) and the tournament is likely to host a minimum of 60 competitive men's and women's matches. Forty-four such games were held in four venues in Sri Lanka with 16 practice matches - played at club grounds in Colombo - included. In Bangladesh, however there isn't the luxury of excellent facilities in smaller venues which could host practice sessions, let alone practice matches. Instead, stadiums will have to cater to every team's needs.
The Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium has the facilities to host three teams' training sessions at a time while those in Fatullah, Chittagong, Khulna and Sylhet have been earmarked for the 2014 event. Drainage facilities are being constructed in Fatullah and Chittagong while the grounds in Khulna and Sylhet are ready to use. Khulna still awaits an ICC inspection to be cleared for the West Indies tour as it replaces Chittagong for the season, while Sylhet has hosted England A earlier this year.
The real test for cities other than Dhaka is the quality and quantity of accommodation it can provide to the teams, match officials, broadcasters, journalists, volunteers and fans. "From an organisation perspective, the biggest challenge is to accommodate the teams in terms of hotels and practice facilities," says BCB media manager Rabeed Imam. "When it comes to Bangladesh, and it has happened in 1998 and 2004, it somehow all comes together at the right time. If you tell me to pinpoint, it won't be possible to say what's ready. This problem isn't faced in other countries.
"The World Twenty20s have a very packed schedule and ever since the 2007 tournament, the schedule has gotten shorter. It has been squeezed. The biggest challenge is to arrange all these things in such a short time. The existing facilities will have to be upgraded or created, that's another challenge."
Bangladesh have already hosted a 16-team international competition when they hosted the 2004 Under-19 World Cup, 54 matches played in eight venues though the vast majority of domestic cricket was postponed that season. Six years earlier, before it had become a Test-playing nation, Bangladesh hosted the 1998 Wills International Cup (later day Champions Trophy) which was a knockout competition held solely at the Bangabandhu National Stadium (BNS) in Dhaka. The 2011 World Cup is perhaps the nearest model for what is to be expected in 2014. Seven tournament matches and four practice matches were held in Dhaka, Chittagong and Fatullah, as well as the opening ceremony held at the BNS. The organisers can expect a lot more pressure on their ability to coordinate all aspects of a tournament of such scale.
A competition such as the World Twenty20, especially since it has to be spread out across the country, will leave a legacy for the game in Bangladesh. One look at Mirpur, where the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium is located, says much about the improvement in amenities and roads in the area. Because of the 2011 tournament, the locality received a facelift it needed for decades. However, it is hard to tell who will be in charge of the Bangladesh Cricket Board in 2014, though an election is supposed to take place later this year.
Nothing but the best hospitality will be expected, and whoever is in charge will have to plan well and more importantly plan early. The passion is ever-present, as organisers like Imam have found out over the years. Bangladeshis are keen to prove their worth, whether it is the government or at the private level or the public in general.
Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's correspondent in Bangladesh