Sports, Cricket

BPL all set to kick off today

Published : 05 Jan 2023 08:16 PM

Bangladesh Premier League is back with the excitement of T20 cricket as the ninth edition of this League will be curtainedontoday. The final will be on February 16.

However, the organization of the Bangladesh Premier League (BPL) has once again become the focus of debate.

BCB director and Khulna Tigers coach Khaled Mahmud who spoke on Tuesday about a lack of effort to implement a revenue sharing model that would have made the BPL more profitable for franchise owners, this time the criticism came from a player.

And then Ace all-rounder Shakib Al Hasan, who ripped into the BPL with his comments, which were tainted by serious organizational issues.

The absence of DRS in this year’s BPL calls the tournament’s seriousness into question. Because of the rise of T20 franchise leagues, such as the most recent in Dubai, foreign players have found more lucrative places to showcase their talents, which inevitably draws attention from IPL teams.

In short, the BPL is quite some way down the ladder among T20 franchise leagues.

Indeed, the BPL’s inaugural season was in 2012, predating the SPL and the PSL. Barring the Indian players, almost every major T20 superstar has played in this tournament at one time or the other.

Chris Gayle, Andre Russell, Rashid Khan, Dwayne Bravo, Alex Hales and David Warner have all played the BPL. The likes of Jofra Archer, Nicholas Pooran and Mohammad Nabi too played the BPL early in their careers.

That’s the thing. The BPL moved quite late in acquiring players for this season. It’s quite packed with the UAE's ILT20 and South Africa’s SA20 the new tournaments on the calendar, both clashing with the BPL, and Australia’s BBL running concurrently too. Many of the biggest stars were already snapped up elsewhere by the time the BPL draft came around on November 23.

BPL 2023 will have a smattering of Pakistan stars like Babar Azam and Mohammad Rizwan. Shaheen Shah Afridi is also expected to turn up if and when he regains match fitness, while Dawid Malan and Sikandar Raza, who are both expected to be in the ILT20 too, are understood to have committed to a few games at least for their BPL teams.

Bangladesh’s biggest T20 stars are all available for the BPL, including Shakib Al Hasan and Mustafizur Rahman. Tamim Iqbal, Mashrafe Mortaza and Mushfiqur Rahim, who have all retired from T20Is, will also be on show this tournament.

This tournament will offer players looking to become household names in cricket a stage to strut their stuff - the likes of Curtis Campher, Max O’Dowd, Brandon King, Chamika Karunaratne and Paul van Meekeren.

Bangladesh struggles more often than not in T20I cricket, so it feels contradictory that they host a big-money T20 franchise league where so many local players appear every year. But then the BPL franchises rely heavily on overseas players. Domestic cricketers hardly face up to the crunch moments, being mostly kept to bit-part roles. Still, the rare T20 talent is unearthed, like last season when Munim Shahriar showed a glimpse of his big-hitting talent. He was quickly drafted into the T20I side, but is yet to make the step up.

So many of them. From the huge match-fixing scandal of 2013 to teams being unable to pay players on time, to a mix-up on the points table resulting in confusion over who’d made the semis, to teams trying to field players without the required paperwork, it has all happened at the BPL.

Last season, Mehidy Hasan Miraz nearly left the competition mid-way after a row with a team official - a saga that involved him being removed as captain and allegations of interference in naming XIs. There was also a last-minute change of team ownership last season, but this especially is par for the course.

In total, there have been 27 BPL team owners in nine seasons. Sylhet has had six different owners, while Dhaka has had five, and both will have new ownership this year. Comilla has been around since 2015 although they dropped out for one season in between. The Rajshahi franchise stopped existing since the 2019 season. The constant churn adds to a general feeling of chaos surrounding the tournament.

Gayle and Tamim have hit superb centuries in BPL finals, in 2019 and 2017 respectively.

Mortaza won the BPL with an underdog Comilla Victorians in their debut season in 2015, one of three different teams he's led to the title, Dhaka Gladiators and Rangpur Riders being the others.