Why a T20?
The Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) has taken the proactive decision to stage a T20 cricket match today between BCB Red and BCB Green, two teams composed of players of the three Dhaka Premier League clubs that are not part of the Super League or the relegation playoffs. Bangladesh Test and T20I captain Shakib Al Hasan will be the major attraction today, leading the Red team against the Mahmudullah Riyad-led Green team.
The stated reason for this match is to keep the cricketers of Mohammedan, Shinepukur and Prime Bank Cricket Club match fit while their colleagues are engaged in official domestic matches.
"Since the players of those three teams are idle, we got a directive from the cricket operations committee to select teams for this match from the players of those clubs," BCB chief selector Minhajul Abedin told The Daily Star last night.
While there is much to commend this initiative on paper, the format of the match taking place today at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium in Mirpur raises a few questions. Having completed a glut of T20I matches starting with the Bangladesh Premier League in November-December last year, the T20I series against Sri Lanka in February this year and the subsequent Nidahas Trophy triangular in Sri Lanka this month, the team's next T20I assignment is months away during the West Indies tour in July-August.
That is on the international front; on the domestic stage there are no T20 matches until the BPL returns in November. Before that, and soon after the Dhaka Premier League wraps up next month, there will be the four-day first-class Bangladesh Cricket League, a format calling for a skill-set and mentality that can be said to be diametrically opposite to that required in T20Is.
Among the players chosen for the match, there can only be one who will be benefited from this being a T20 match, and that is Shakib, who will leave for Hyderabad next month to play in the Indian Premier League for Sunrisers Hyderabad. Shakib is one of two Bangladesh cricketers to feature in this year's IPL along with Mustafizur Rahman, who has however asked for a break following the Nidahas Trophy.
Mihajul said as much. "It will also be good for Shakib, because he will play the IPL next month."
When asked if there was anything other than the match practice for Shakib that was stopping this match being played in a format more beneficial to the 21 other players in the match, Minhajul said: "A T20 match is shorter, and as there are DPL matches being played here, a T20 match will give the groundstaff more time to prepare."
The match will start at 5:00pm tonight and end roughly four hours later, around the same time one-day match would have ended if it was a day-night affair.
If the ground conditions were a cause for concern, why hold a practice match in a venue that would be hosting an official domestic match the next day in the first place? The more crucial question perhaps is: is it worth involving 21 elite cricketers to play in a format they will not play for at least four months just to give one player (as all signs point to) practice to play in a foreign league?
BCB GREEN: Mahmudullah Riyad (captain), Mehedi Maruf, Al-Amin Jr, Sadman Islam, Ariful Haque, Nahidul Islam, Irfan Shukkur, Taijul Islam, Shubhashis Roy, Delwar Hossain, Ebadat Hossain, Shariful Islam and Saeed Sarkar.
BCB RED: Shakib Al Hasan (captain), Rony Talukdar, Zakir Hasan, Afif Hossain, Tawhid Hridoy, Shuvagata Hom, Mohammad Saifuddin, Rubel Hossain, Qazi Onik, Mohammad Azim, Raihan Uddin, Jony Talukdar and Sabbir Hossain.