Domestic delays threaten Bangladesh WC preparations
A backlog of tournaments in Bangladesh's 2013-14 season, a result of delays due to international fixtures, is threatening to impact the livelihood of hundreds of professional cricketers in the country and hamper the national side's preparations for the 2015 World Cup.
With a delay over the scheduling of pending tournaments likely, the BCB has decided to try and fill the gap with international and A team tours, which they reckon can help prepare the side for the world event.
The crux of the domestic backlog problem has carried over from last year when the 2012-13 Dhaka Premier Division was delayed a number of times, and was finally held at the start of the 2013-14 season. It was played between September 10 and November 29 and was briefly interrupted by the Bangladesh-New Zealand series.
There were two T20 tournaments held in December after which the Bangladesh Cricket League, a four-team first-class tournament, was scheduled two weeks before the Test series against Sri Lanka to give players practice in the longer format. The eight-team National Cricket League began in late January and ran until March 2, before being put on hold for the Asia Cup and the World T20. It resumed on April 12, and is scheduled to end by April 22, following which the last round of the BCL will be held.
Now, the Cricket Committee of Dhaka Metropolis, the BCB body that is in charge of the leagues in Dhaka, has to hold the First Division Cricket League for 2013-14 to determine which clubs have been promoted to the Dhaka Premier Division for the 2013-14 season.
The First Division League is a 20-team club competition which needs two months and given that it is already April, the tournament may be pushed back again.
Bangladesh will hence rely heavily on the A team tours and international series for match practice. Bangladesh A will travel to West Indies in May while an ODI series against India is likely to be held in mid-June. Towards the end of June, Zimbabwe A will arrive to play four-day games, one-dayers and T20s. The national side is scheduled to tour West Indies in August-September and a tri-series between hosts Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe is also planned in late October, which will be followed by Tests against Zimbabwe at home.
Akram Khan, BCB's cricket operations committee chairman, has said that the board will try to host more one-day games against Zimbabwe A and will also plan to give the Bangladesh side matches in conditions that are similar to Australia and New Zealand.
"More cricket will always be better," Akram said. "Our domestic calendar is very important. We have to hold cricket properly at the club level, which will be to our team's benefit.
"Apart from domestic cricket, India are likely to come in June. Bangladesh A will tour West Indies in May and we will host Zimbabwe A at the end of June. We will try to host more one-dayers against them. We also have the senior team touring West Indies in August-September. Plus, we are trying to hold matches in the conditions in which we will play the 2015 World Cup."
While Akram stressed on the importance of club cricket, other directors in the BCB believe Dhaka clubs may delay the First Division league, along the lines of what occurred in the lead-up to the Dhaka Premier Divison last year. The tussle between the Dhaka-based clubs and the BCB over the Dhaka Premier Division was resolved in August last year after the board agreed on a changed players transfer system and relented several times to demands for revised starting dates.
The line-up of tours by the senior side and the Bangladesh A team in the next few months, the impending monsoon and India's tour to Bangladesh in June may leave the clubs less inclined to play after May. Given these circumstances, it is up to the BCB to end the cricket season properly. The two Dhaka leagues of the 2013-14 season are running out of time and postponing them will only clog up the domestic calender next season, when Bangladesh will have more international commitments.
Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent. He tweets here