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04 Apr 2021 10:11:47

Shadow of uncertainty hangs over domestic cricket season

Shadow of uncertainty hangs over domestic cricket season

The pandemic came and marched on; as it lingered for more than a year the chance of domestic cricket taking place  last season withered with that.

Many cricketers, who are not part of the national team set-ups, were left helpless as they have no other source of income other than the one they get from playing in the domestic circuit.

Those cricketers found a flicker of hope when the Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) decided to host the National Cricket League (NCL) last month. But the light went out as the NCL was put on hold after two rounds in the wake of a recent spike in Covid-19 deaths and cases.

At least five cricketers, who played the first round of the event, tested positive for Covid-19. So, the board has stepped forward to limit the cricketers' movements off the field.

Earlier, the BCB had decided to host the league in only two venues – Cox's Bazar and BKSP – instead of four. But the Cox's Bazar authority limited the movement of people in the area to stop the spread of the virus.

Unable to manage venues, the board decided to halt the league for one week, which created fresh concerns among many cricketers, who have started thinking that the league might not resume.

"The national team players will be able to survive for a year even if they do not get money from the board. They are established cricketers," Anamul Haque Bijoy, the opener who is out of the national team now, told the media on Saturday.

"But those who are out of the national team set-ups or did not play for the national side yet will suffer a lot if there is no domestic cricket. Those are heavily reliant on cricketing activities at the lower tiers of the game – the first division, second division, third division or the academies— will suffer a lot," he added.

There are at least 20 cricketers in every NCL team, and they also have a few members in the support staff. It means, at least 200 players and support staff take part in NCL. So, it is tough to manage a bio-secure bubble for so many people.

"It's a precautionary step, and temporary move," Nizamuddin Chowdhury, the BCB CEO, told the media on Thursday. "NCL is a first-class event and eight teams are contesting in this league in more than one venue. So the things are more challenging here."

However, the BCB chooses to halt NCL, the Bangladesh Olympic Association is organising the Bangabandhu Bangladesh Games.

"Why not NCL if the authorities can go on with Bangladesh Games?" Tushar Imran, the veteran first-class batsman, said Saturday while talking to UNB.

"There are many cricketers who have no other source of income other than the one they get from playing domestic cricket," he said. "So, we have to find a way to continue the league. The board said the league has been put off for now."

"I believe the board will resume the league after a week. We have the experience of organising two domestic cricket events while maintaining a strict bio-secure bubble last year. So, the board is capable of organizing the NCL in bio-bubble as well."

But it seems unlikely that the BCB will resume the league just after a week as the Covid-19 cases keep surging.

"We have to see what comes along the way," BCB CEO told the media recently. "For now, we will observe the Covid-19 situation. After a week, we will have a discussion with the authority and make a decision accordingly."