Nearly 11 years after the tournament’s founding, the Bangladesh Premier League (BPL) still faces the difficulty of creating its own identity as its tenth edition gets off on January 19.
Fans and players alike debate whether to refer to the specific clubs that represent a certain area as their home team because of the constant renaming of teams.
For instance, in the next edition of the nation’s only franchise-based T20 competition, Chattogram-born Tamim Iqbal will play for Fortune Barishal, while Bangladesh captain Shakib Al Hasan, who is from Magura district in Khulna division, will play for Rangpur Riders.
Regarding the Indian Premier League (IPL), every cricket enthusiast knows to which core group of players the names of Chennai Super Kings or Kolkata Knight Riders are associated. Similarly, such franchises have strong fan following.
However, since club owners often switch, these bonds between cricketers and fans and their specific teams have not yet materialized in the BPL. As a result, it undermines franchise cricket’s actual objective, which is to foster brand value and local loyalty.
Since the franchises haven’t done much to market their area to create the atmosphere, it’s possible that even the players of the individual clubs, much alone the fans, are uninformed of who their colleagues are with less than two weeks till the start of the next BPL.
Star-studded A few days ago, Barishal started optional training at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium in Mirpur. With Mahmudullah Riyad, Tamim, and Mushfiqur Rahim among its ranks, the franchisee might have used their celebrity status to draw in local supporters via marketing campaigns.
The players’ lack of camaraderie has also been made clear, as Barishal head coach Mizanur Rahman Babul has acknowledged. He’s hoping that once the event starts, the cricket players will be able to adjust.
“I believe that BPL has not yet established a culture that fosters teamwork for a variety of reasons. Some of the overseas players are anticipated to come just before the first game of the BPL, which begins on January 19, Babul informed the media yesterday.
“To be honest, we won’t be able to have a fantastic connection from this point on. However, I believe that professional players quickly connect and demonstrate their talents since there are so many competitive events held all around the globe. The players can easily adjust to it and find a solution.”
In this regard, Comilla Victorians continue to be a noteworthy exception. Through a few promotional events, they have been able to maintain some continuity throughout the years in terms of developing a dedicated fan base and winning over players.
Before the BPL started, the Sylhet Strikers conducted a bowler search campaign around Sylhet and other regions. Thirteen hopeful cricket players were chosen from a trial consisting of almost nine hundred players. Before and during the tournament, the lucky ones will get to bowl at international stars and members of the national cricket team in the nets.
It is imperative that the BPL governing council, along with the club owners, make a bigger effort than in the past to capitalize on brand value in order to promote fan and player loyalty.