Many fear launching of BPL will open floodgates
Just as Twenty20s have divided cricket followers the world over, there remains similar apprehension on what the inaugural Bangladesh Premier League (BPL) is bringing to the table for the country’s cricket.
A rumbustious opening ceremony will kick off proceedings at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium today with the first matches following up tomorrow and it is more than likely that large crowds will turn up on the initial days. The marketing objective of Twenty20 cricket has been to draw big-moneyed companies channelled through the fervour of the fans who can spare the three hours required for this format.
The BPL has all the makings of reducing every other sporting event in the country, especially since this is essentially a domestic tournament, into a puny sideshow. A considerable number of local cricketers are going to make more money than they have ever made or imagined. The base price for the lowest category of players will earn 20,000 dollars for 19 days of cricket, many times more than their yearly income. The national team cricketers will make Tk 1.8 crore (210,000 dollars), at least ten times more than what they make in the Tigers’ colours.
If one were to look beyond the money, the local players’ chance to rub shoulders with big names such as Michael Bevan, Dean Jones, Sanath Jayasuriya, Muttiah Murali-daran and the like, will be helpful for their future development.
But that’s where the overall benefits of the BPL stop because no matter who tells you, it will be a pleasant surprise if the large sums of money earned by the Bangladesh Cricket Board through this competition are transmitted into other projects like schools and first-class cricket.
The real fear of a tournament of this nature is the sweeping change in attitude among the cricketers. Already club officials have muttered under their breath the talk of the dressing-rooms about the players’ auction.
The younger lot is, unsurpri-singly, very excited with the glitz and glamour and it will be a travesty of the highest degree if their focus is more on earning the quick money and avoiding the hard yards of first-class cricket. Some observers have predicted that the ill-effects of this attitude will be evident in a few years.
The decisive factor would be when the cricket board start to give more priority to those who perform well in Twenty20s rather than the more important formats. It has happened in the tournament that the BPL is modelled on — the Indian Premier League.
Another area of concern among many is the involvement of so many different parties with the franchises. The list is growing as this report is filed and the BCB have very little control over who mingles with these cricketers; getting in touch with bad influence could be catastrophic for the country’s game. Whether or not these damaging factors were considered by the AHM Mustafa Kamal-led BCB is a moot point.
Even before the first steps have hit the dance floor in the Mirpur venue, the tussles of the BPL with different groups are warning signs of more difficult dealings in the near future. For now, the fans can enjoy the BPL fanfare but when it gets down to the business, both literally and cricket-wise, the jury is still out on the concept.
-With The daily Star input