BCB announces packed domestic schedule
The Bangladesh Cricket Board has announced an ambitious domestic schedule for the 2013-14 season, which includes two Dhaka Premier Division Cricket League tournaments. The first of the two leagues is from the 2012-13 season that had to be rescheduled five times since March this year.
There will be five major domestic tournaments in addition to Bangladesh's international series at home against New Zealand in October and Sri Lanka in January 2014. The Asia Cup and the ICC World Twenty20s are also scheduled in this period, making it the busiest cricket season in the country's history.
The BCB has, over the years (including the past season), struggled to hold matches as per the initial domestic schedule, but this time they cannot afford to tinker because of the lack of space between the tournaments.
The pending edition of the Dhaka Premier League, the domestic one-day competition, will kick off the 2013-14 season in early September. It will run for nearly three months, during which time New Zealand will tour Bangladesh to play a full series.
The first-class competition, the National Cricket League, will take place over two months in November (after the Dhaka Premier League) and December. It will be followed by the BPL Twenty20 tournament, scheduled for the end of the year, but it is likely to be a much shorter affair given all the trouble it has had with defaulting franchises.
There will be a three-month break for the domestic cricketers as the national side will take on Sri Lanka in Tests and ODIs in January, play the Asia Cup in late February and the ICC World Twenty20s from mid-March.
The 2013-14 Dhaka Premier League will then be held in April; the other first-class tournament, the Bangladesh Cricket League that was inaugurated last year with four zonal teams, will be held in June, following which India will tour to play three ODIs in June.
The major concern about such a long and tight schedule is whether the Dhaka Premier League clubs are able to take part in two competitions in the same season. The clubs have had financial problems, and they approached the BCB for monetary support this season, so it will be hard for them to play two seasons of the league in the space of eight-nine months
The second area of concern is whether the BCL, the country's second first-class tournament, will get marginalised due to the heavy scheduling. It was a promising tournament with the best first-class performers from the NCL, but the BCB has pushed it to June, a month when cricketers usually stay indoors due to the start of the monsoons.
On the plus side, the BCB now has additional cricket grounds in Dhaka and around the country to host the various tournaments, including the lower tiers of the Dhaka league system, the district-level and age-group competitions. The two new grounds at Bangladesh's sport institute, BSKP, will be used alongside the outer ground at Fatullah.
The other advantage is for the players, who will have additional opportunities to play. However, a number of players remain sceptical of the schedule, especially in a season in which four international engagements are to take place.
Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent. He tweets here