One of the most important requirements for organizing a franchise-based cricket competition is to have enough infrastructure and training facilities in place so that franchisees can play at their best while the country’s cricketing culture grows.
However, when it comes to the Bangladesh Premier League (BPL), the country’s lone franchise-based cricket event, these are the very characteristics that have been overlooked since its beginning in 2012.
Cricketers from multiple teams crowded for space in training at the National Academy pitch in Mirpur is a regular sight whenever the BPL returns.
BPL’s identity is being eroded due to a lack of franchise culture.
Only Durdanto Dhaka and Fortune Barishal are training at the Mirpur Academy ground this time, while four-time champions Comilla Victorians have chosen the Masco-Shakib Cricket Academy, Chattogram Challengers and Sylhet Strikers are training at the Pubergaon Krira Shikkha Protishthan (PKSP), and Khulna Tigers are training at the BKSP on Dhaka’s outskirts.
This may seem to be a favorable shift in BPL culture, but the reality is far different. The four aforementioned teams are practicing at privately-owned fields since the academy grounds in Mirpur are under building for a new indoor facility.
While teams in the Indian Premier League, such as Kolkata Knight Riders and Chennai Super Kings, are recognized for having state-of-the-art training facilities for year-round training, six of the seven franchises presently participating in the BPL do not have their own training facility.
Rangpur Riders, a Bashundhara Group-owned team since 2017, are the lone exception in this respect, since they practice at their very own Bashundhara Sports Complex, which has all contemporary training facilities.
Rangpur Riders may be unusual in this aspect since they are owned by a group that already has a foothold in the country’s sports landscape: they own the Bashundhara Kings, one of the most successful and the country’s first football team with its own facility.
Some have intentions to build infrastructure, but there are several obstacles to overcome. Chattogram Challengers, who will compete in the BPL for the fourth season, are still in the planning stages of creating infrastructure.
“We have grand plans to build our own infrastructure, which will include grounds and other facilities.” But these things need time and opportunity, which is why we have yet to establish these facilities,” Imran Hasan, the Chattogram Challengers’ operations manager, told The Daily Star.
“However, if we get a suitable place, we will definitely look to develop such facilities in the coming days,” Hasan said.
According to another franchise owner who asked not to be identified, a lack of clarity from authorities is one of the main reasons why clubs are hesitant to spend extensively in infrastructure.
“There has been no clarity from the organizers, and we are unsure whether we will participate in the next edition.” Aside from that, we need to find a means to gain something in return for our investment, since developing infrastructures such as acquiring property and constructing a stadium or even a training facility costs a lot of money. We are interested in investing in such sectors if we have long-term certainty from the board,” he stated.