An obituary

Cricket is dead in the National Cricket League (NCL). And how.
When you take a sweeping view of what goes on during four-day games in this country, it would be hardly surprising if you find out players just waiting for the game to be over.
After having surveyed through players in the competition, it has been gathered that there is a huge lack of interest. That is mainly due to the ridiculously low pay they receive during a match. And a lack of competition is another major reason.
The points table of this year’s competition says a lot about the quality and standard of cricket played. While Rajshahi and Dhaka have already qualified for the final (to be held from May 10 at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium), the rest, particularly the bottom two, have provided nothing to first-class cricket in Bangladesh.
It is easy to figure out why Dhaka and Rajshahi continue to dominate this competition. The latter has a proper system in place while the former has too many players to choose from. Chittagong amassed only 30 points from their five games and since they produced Tamim Iqbal, the port city has forgotten about playing cricket and concentrated on flimsy tournaments. Khulna, from where major talents have emanated even until very recently, are deprived of all their international-level players and have struggled to put together a decent eleven this season. Sylhet, though they finished third, drew seven out of eight games. When asked, one of them quietly admitted that Sylhet players don’t even remember when they won a four-day game.
There have been similar stories of players’ indifference towards the four-day game. A prominent figure in domestic cricket recently quipped that he is better off doing television talk shows than playing in the NCL.
Add to this, the dream of every club cricketer to play in this competition. It is a gateway to the national team but more importantly, a first-class tag on a player gives him a better standing in every which way.
And this is where a lot of discrepancies creep in.
Some players take this chance and during this season, a lot of lower league players got their noses ahead. If they had done well, it would have made great stories but they didn’t and much like they slip into the system, they slip out as conspicuously and those who deserve it more, miss out.
A left-arm spinner from a remote district suffered this fate even after performing well. He made his debut for Chittagong back in 2007 and the next year, he became the second highest wicket-taker of that year’s NCL. In the thirteen matches he played he picked up 46 wickets. But then he made the mistake of not joining the CWAB strike the following year. Some senior players and officials got angry at him and since then he was never even considered for the squad.
But these same officials manufacture dreams too.
This season Barisal picked an opening batsman who made his club cricket debut back in 2004-05 when he was only 17. After going through statistics, it has been revealed that he has played less than ten games in these six years. He played for Partex in First Division Cricket League and played only two matches.
Another lucky one, who played Third Division last year and was in Premier League team Old DOHS side this year. He is in the Under 19 probables and though he didn’t get any matches to play in the Premier League, he is playing first-class cricket.
Dhaka also fielded a virtually nondescript team in their last NCL game before the final. It was so inexperienced that one match official was moved to admit that he couldn’t recognise the Dhaka team.
One player said that he knew he would be in the playing eleven after the team management had told him the night before. But on the morning of the game, he came to know he wasn’t actually playing.
Later it was found that the assistant coach had an argument with the coach that if his player didn’t play the match he would not stay with the team.
This is the sordid tale of the NCL where some dreams remain unrealised because of loopholes, a lack of competition but more importantly, due to a real lack of interest in the part of those who run the game.


Courtesy of The Daily Star

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