Bangladesh have got purpose-built cricket venues in almost every divisional headquarters. The most popular of them is understandably the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium in Mirpur. The unique feature of the venue is perhaps the fantastic drainage system and of course the deafening roars from loyal fans. It has also got a very accommodative press box for the touring journalists.
But after being part of the first ODI at the Hagley Oval in Christchurch on Monday and having spent some time at the Saxton Oval in Nelson yesterday, one can easily feel that cricket venues have a greater contributing impact for the paying fans than just accommodating them.
The Hagley Oval ground is small compared to the giant concrete structure in Mirpur. It accommodates roughly two-thirds of the 25,000-capacity Mirpur offers. But it is a cricket ground in the true sense in the garden city of New Zealand. The ground may be small, but it is located inside a park (1800 hectares of land) which is probably bigger than the whole Mirpur area. The entertainment value it offers is multi-faceted. The grass banks provide additional value for collective festivity. If you are coming with children you can have inflated amusement parks to entertain them.
The Saxton Oval is also set to offer the same sort of amusement for fans flocking for a full day of entertainment. The Saxton ground, facing the Tasman bay and with spectacular green hills in the background, is a spectators' delight. Its state-of-the-art players' lounge gives you a feeling that you are about to enter a tube station.
Bangladesh have one venue in Cox's Bazar that can match the beauty of the two venues in New Zealand. But as far as Bangladesh's fascination for concrete structures is concerned, coupled with the growing pressure of complementary guest requests, the idea of a green Sheikh Kamal International Stadium is still to get its desired shape.
Cricket is not just entertainment. It also opens the front for tourism. In New Zealand people keep the cricket fixtures as part of their package of their vacation plan. This is also no exception for Bangladeshi expats. We have come across three young Bangladeshis living in Melbourne who have come to watch the one-day part of the series before heading to Queenstown as part of their 15-day vacation plan. Nelson is a city where hardly any Bangladesh expats reside. But you will not be surprised to see a couple of hundred of them in the mix of the home fans in the Saxton double-header. The growing popularity of Bangladesh cricket can also open a new avenue for tourism. But it will not be promoted through those concrete structures.