The national cricketers will make their first appearance in the National Cricket League today but their absence throughout the previous eight rounds have hindered the standard.
With two international tours (New Zealand at home and away to South Africa) taking place during the course of the lone first-class tournament that began in October, the competition suffered. There was also the flight of the cricketers to the rebel Indian Cricket League that dealt a severe blow.
"Definitely the NCL missed out on the national players and some have also retired (ICL rebels)," said chief selector Rafiqul Alam who travelled across the country during the last few months to watch the first-class competition, which sees matches between Rajshahi-Sylhet, Khulna-Dhaka and Chittagong-Barisal in the ninth round from today.
Last season there was talk of poor wickets being prepared but according to former national captain Khaled Mahmud that part of the game has been taken care of but the standard hasn't gone up.
"The wickets were good, actually better than before but the standard hasn't changed that much. It is still average, maybe because of the absence of the top players," said Mahmud, who has taken over the coaching job of Sylhet this season.
Take Mahmud's side for instance. He was brought in to have a more central role in team matters after Sylhet boys Alok Kapali, Tapash Baisya and Golam Mabud left to play in the banned ICL.
The same goes for Khulna who lost influential characters like Habibul Bashar and Monjurul Islam while Dhaka lost the services of left-arm spinners Mohammad Rafique and Mosharraf Hossain.
But both the chief selector and Mahmud agreed that the youngsters taken out of the under-19 sides for NCL have done a good job.
"The youngsters from the under-19 teams have done well so far. Players like Rony Talukdar, Nasir Hossain, Raihan Anas, Imon Ahmed and Ashraful Aziz have really developed," said the former national batsman.
Mahmud echoed Rafiqul's thinking and his hands-on approach have helped him give a more specific picture.
"The youngsters are encouraging and they have showed the right attitude. They have dominated with both bat and ball and it is important to pick up these players and nurse them.
"They have improved day by day but have a long way to go but look, they are luckier than us because they get to play first-class cricket from a very young age," added Mahmud.
But so much has the standards gone down that finding a left-arm spinner is still an ongoing process.
"Nabil (Samad) have played well for the first five rounds while our other backup spinners are Enamul Haque and Suharwardi Shuvo.
"But (Mahmudullah) Riyad has done well with the bat and ball so we have to wait and see," said Rafiqul.
Mahmud also did not believe Shuvo was right to be picked at this moment. "He (Suharwardi Shuvo) has been playing in the Academy for three years but he has to work very hard as does Nabil Samad," he said.
Rajshahi boy Shuvo leads the bowling charts with 43 wickets from eight matches while Nabil, the Sylhet left-armer, is four wickets behind but with the season's best bowling figures -- eight for 61.
Faisal Hossain, who played just one Test for the Tigers, has scored the most number of runs so far with 732 runs that include three centuries. Nasiruddin Faruque, another left-hander who had an average 2007-08 seasons is second with 539 runs in his kitty. Rajshahi opener Jahurul Islam and discarded national player Tushar Imran are also above the 500-run mark.
But as the chief selector said, NCL performances of this season could have little impact on the players' selection.
The feisty former national captain Mahmud also said that he was dissatisfied with the players' knowledge.
"I must also say that the national league players lack game sense and they must improve on that," added Mahmud.
Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) improved the players' remuneration last season in their bid to better the playing quality but that rise in pay has not translated into performance or good cricket so far in two seasons.