A tournament in decline? | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, January 18, 2019 / LAST MODIFIED: 01:07 AM, January 18, 2019

A tournament in decline?

For most organisations and events, five times is usually enough to get the process right. The Bangladesh Premier League (BPL) is currently in its sixth edition and it was not unreasonable to hope that the BPL governing council (GC) would finally be able to stage a season not blighted by controversy after five editions that were compromised by one gaffe or another.

That hope has by now, less than halfway into the tournament, been proven to be a foolish one. Far from running a tournament free from mismanagement, this edition has already had a sufficient number of instances to label the whole brand a mismanaged one, let alone just one season. The latest is not the BPL GC's mismanagement but Sylhet Sixers'. The lack of transparency in the development of skipper David Warner leaving the tournament to have surgery for an elbow injury has been laughable to say the least. At least one reporter inquired about the injury on Wednesday night after Sylhet had beaten Rangpur Riders, but the Sylhet manager seemed clueless.

Yesterday morning however, Cricket Australia's website had announced that Warner would be returning from the BPL, after which Sylhet's media manager said that there was an injury, and that there was no decision on it yet. As the day wore on, it first emerged -- according to the franchise -- that Warner would play out the ongoing Sylhet leg of the BPL. Meanwhile, Surrey CCC had announced that Jason Roy would join Sylhet Sixers -- presumably as Warner's replacement -- but that too was not announced by the franchise. The cherry on top was the Sixers calling a press conference to address the issue at 5:30pm at their Sylhet hotel, but at 5:24 the media manager informed a Whatsapp media group that the press conference was postponed 'due to the unavailability of Sixers management' and that they would 'post further updates regarding DW'. The last information on Thursday was that it Warner's departure was not yet confirmed.

The update did come, but it was 20 minutes past midnight in the aforementioned Whatsapp group – meaning that a majority of fans would not be updated of the latest as, for many media outlets, it would not be possible to update the news at that hour.

The BPL GC may say that none of this is their responsibility, but they have set the example of opacity and excuse-making that those below them follow. This season alone, they started the tournament with the Decision Review System (DRS) but without the technology that detects if bat made contact with the ball. Ultra Edge came in a week into the tournament, when the excuse for the delay was that its operator had not gotten the visa, although on the second day of the tournament it was revealed that the franchises were informed of Ultra Edge's unavailability.

The Sylhet leg's first day was played without the DRS, and the excuse was it was stuck in Dhaka because of customs-related issues. The pitches have been of poor quality, producing boring matches that calls the tournament's overall quality into question. The broadcast has been the joke of the tournament so far, with erroneous graphics at times misspelling players' names, showing their ages as past the century mark, inflating averages and most grievously, showing wrong stats for balls left and runs required. The response to that was BPL GC member-secretary IH Mallick saying that the level of BPL's production is matched only by the IPL final and semifinal and the ICC World Cup.

So Sylhet's unprofessionalism is not a bug, but a feature of the BPL that is championed by its GC. A professionally run tournament was a foolish expectation perhaps because far from being chastened by past gaffes, the GC has been emboldened by the fact that despite those they are staging a sixth tournament.

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