Bangladesh news January 6, 2014

Two rounds of BCL before Sri Lanka series

The Bangladesh players will get two first-class games before their Test series against Sri Lanka begins from January 27. Those games will be the first two rounds of the Bangladesh Cricket League which will begin on January 12.

The tournament, however, will take a long hiatus after the two rounds. It will return after the World Twenty20, which will end on April 6. The Bangladesh Cricket Board's rationale is that since the country's top players will be taking part in the BCL, it will continue the tournament only once everyone is available.

The two rounds of the BCL will be the Bangladesh players' only match preparation ahead of the Sri Lanka Tests. There were questions regarding preparation ahead of the home series against New Zealand last October as the Bangladesh cricketers played only domestic one-day matches in the lead-up.

Akram Khan, former Bangladesh captain and the BCB cricket operations committee chairman, said the BCL is being organised quickly so that the national cricketers can have some longer-version matches under their belt.

"We are going to see the country's top players take part in the tournament. It is important they play first-class matches ahead of the Test series against Sri Lanka," Akram said. "We will hold the matches in two venues nearby in BKSP, and it will be crucial for the players and the management to pick the right squad."

The BCL is the second first-class tournament in Bangladesh's domestic calendar. It began in the 2012-13 season as part of BCB's efforts to encourage players to take the National Cricket League (NCL) more seriously. The NCL is the bigger first-class tournament with eight teams taking part, while the BCL has four, making sure the NCL performers get selected in the BCL teams.

The board is waiting on the NCL till the political strikes and blockades are over, so that the eight-team competition can be held in all parts of the country.

The four-team BCL for now will take place till January 21, both rounds being played at the two BKSP grounds. The country's largest sports institute has a second ground now on the western part of the premises, which held some Dhaka Premier League games earlier this season.

Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent. He tweets here