A new horizon for Bangladeshi cricketers
While top players around the world tend to test their skills and adjust to seam-friendly English conditions by playing county cricket, not many from Bangladesh have historically taken part in the prestigious first-class competition.
Shakib Al Hasan, who made his presence felt during his stint for Worcestershire in the early stages of his career, and star opener Tamim Iqbal, who featured for Nottinghamshire, are the only two Bangladeshi cricketers who have featured in the top league in the past.
Former Bangladesh captain Mohammad Ashraful and Enamul Haque Jr featured for minor counties in the past and there has been a significant rise in the lower-tier when it comes to the participation of the Bangladeshi cricketers recently.
The likes of Imrul Kayes, Shamsur Rahman, Junaid Siddique and Enamul are currently in England representing various minor counties and are reaping the rewards of playing in tough English conditions during the off-season in Bangladesh.
Imrul is featuring for Epping Cricket Club, owned a Bangladeshi expat, in Division 1 this season. The out-of-favour national cricketer informed that the facilities and conditions on the minor county circuit could be helpful for the Bangladeshi cricketers who are willing to work in the off-season.
"I must say the standard of cricket is pretty challenging even in the minor county. This is my first season here and the conditions and pitches here offer a lot for the seamers, so it's not easy for batters. I am playing in division 1, which is the top minor league. After that comes the Premier League and then the main county championship," Imrul told The Daily Star.
"Some of their county players also feature in division 1. It is a platform for the others to make it to a major county side. I think you need to have good batting technique to be successful here. So from that point of view, players from Bangladesh can certainly come here during the off-season and experience such conditions."
On the other hand, Enamul started his journey on the minor county circuit in 2008 and since been a regular feature in England during the off-season. According to the left-arm spinner, minor counties can be a platform for young Bangladeshi players looking to gain experience.
"I think it's a great experience for players in Bangladesh to explore by playing minor county, especially young cricketers. The number of players from Bangladesh participating in the leagues here have increased significantly," said Enamul.
"I really feel if a youngster from Bangladesh comes here for at least one season, he will learn a lot about the cricketing culture. It will also help him interact with others. I think there is a growing demand for Bangladeshi players in the UK, but we need good agents to communicate since we don't see our top players coming to UK and playing county cricket."