NCL looks bleak | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, September 26, 2011 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, September 26, 2011

NCL looks bleak

Nur Hossain Munna (L) and Talha Jubair (R) chase Tigers batsman Shahriar Nafees (C) during training at the Academy ground yesterday.Photo: STAR

The country's lone first-class cricket tournament, the National Cricket League (NCL), has already run into trouble. It is now unlikely for the competition to begin on the originally scheduled date of October 10 as the Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) is not finding enough players to fill up the eight teams.
The erstwhile six-team NCL has been expanded to eight teams with the addition of Rangpur and Dhaka Metropolis. Now with the Tigers playing against West Indies next month, Bangladesh A scheduled to fly off to the West Indies at the end of October and the GP-BCB National Cricket Academy also set to tour India, there is a dearth of cricketers good enough to play first-class cricket.
According to BCB's tournament committee secretary Hafizur Rahman Joarder, just one division has enough players while the rest would find it difficult to field even a playing eleven.
"Only Rajshahi can field a good team but not teams like Khulna. They have players in the national setup and some are also injured," he said last night after their meeting was cancelled due to tournament committee chairman Gazi Ashraf Hossain's illness.
Lack of competitiveness is the main deterrent for the tournament committee and they are not ready to host an NCL without some of these top players. They fear that matches could be over in two days, drawing ire from all concerned.
Some however have doubted whether it is so difficult to find 120-150 cricketers good enough for first-class cricket. Since the inception of the competition, the organisers have always tried to make the incumbent top players play first-class cricket but in the last few seasons, hardly any of the national players have taken part in the competition.
Though it creates space for lesser known talents to come up through the ranks, the poor infrastructural facilities across the country stop such players from making a mark. Only Dhaka, Rajshahi and part of the northern belt have active cricket academies with Rajshahi as the biggest beneficiary. But divisions like Sylhet, Khulna, Barisal and Chittagong have very little to work with.
The addition of Dhaka Metropolis as the eighth team is also curious as there are very few quality cricketers who are residents of the capital city. Though Dhaka is the centre of cricketing activities, the leagues (First Division and Premier) teams hardly have a player who lives in Dhaka in their line-ups.
A more reformed approach with development in the regional centres could solve this problem that creeps up every year but BCB has hardly ever addressed it in the proper way.
Meanwhile, the NCL's format is also different this year with eights teams playing in a single-league format. Later in December, the top four will play in the Super League with the best two set to play a five-day final in April next year. The four teams who don't make it to the second phase could also play three-day games against each other.
Grounds in Rajshahi, Bogra, BKSP, Sylhet and Jessore have been earmarked as the NCL venues.

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