The Bangabandhu Bangladesh Premier League (BBPL) came to an end with Rajshahi Royals lifting the coveted trophy after a 21-run win over Khulna Tigers at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium in Mirpur on Friday. The domestic cricket festival that lasted more than a month lacked the franchisee flavour of editions past as it was organised solely by the Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) for the first time. However, the tournament did see some improvements, while there were also new flaws and some pre-existing ones.
Here, we take a look at some of the positives and negatives of the BBPL:
Mirpur pitch: One of the more significant changes this year was the way the Mirpur pitch behaved. The wickets at Bangladesh cricket’s headquarters has always been unpredictable and, more often than not, produced low-scoring contests in past editions. This time, however, the scenario was different. Khulna recorded the highest ever score at the venue when they posted 218 for two during a 92-run victory over Cumilla Warriors. Khulna also chased down Dhaka Platoon’s 205 for four -- the highest successful chase in BPL history -- comfortably in their next game. There were low-scoring contests, but they had more to do with poor batting.
Locals Fire: The special edition of the BPL was touted to be the platform for local players to stake a claim for national team places for the upcoming T20 World Cup, and it saw the emergence of some excellent local performers. Chattogram Challengers left-arm pacer Mehedi Hasan Rana, who was superb during the Chattogram leg, was impressive with his swing and bounce. At an economy of 7.50, Rana finished as the sixth highest wicket-takers, scalping 18 in 10 games. Dhaka Platoon’s Hasan Mahmud was impressive too, often bowling at 140kph or above, and he has been rewarded with a maiden call-up to the T20I squad for the tour of Pakistan.
Established local players did well too, with Mustafizur Rahman and Rubel Hossain finishing top of the wicket-takers’ list with 20 scalps each. Among the batsmen, Mushfiqur Rahim -- who missed out on the top spot in the batting charts by four runs -- and Imrul Kayes had excellent tournaments. Most auspicious for the BCB would have been the opening partnership between Rajshahi’s Liton Das and Afif Hossain, who lit up the BBPL stage with magnificent batting displays at the top.
Broadcast: Last edition’s BPL created a fuss as it started without essential technology like Ultra Edge, Snickometer or Hot Spot and there were also embarrassing graphical errors. However, the BCB did manage to raise the broadcasting standards this time. A total of 32 cameras were used by Real Impact, the company responsible for this edition’s broadcast. A team of 80 people from Australia, UK, Canada, Sri Lanka, India and Bangladesh worked to enhance the broadcasting quality, making the tournament a good watching experience with crisp pictures and interesting stats.
Competitiveness: Since this edition was being arranged by the BCB, it was said that the teams would be more or less of equal strength. But Sylhet Thunder’s campaign showed that that was far from the case. The Mosaadek Hossain-led team could manage a solitary win from 12 games, ending at the bottom of the table. There were also murmurs of bad management, and they offered the tournament’s only dark chapter with Krishmar Santokie’s huge no-ball in the opening game and also with puzzling selection decisions. Apart from Sylhet’s abysmal campaign, for much of the tournament there was a lack of edge-of-the-seat thrillers that is the bread and butter of T20 cricket. Fortunately, there was improvement at the end when the better teams faced off, especially in the playoffs, and the spectators were treated to some humdingers.
Fielding: One thing that was more disappointing than Sylhet was the standard of fielding throughout the tournament. The catching especially was below-par. It seemed like the players, especially locals, were dumbfounded when the ball was skied as even two players converging for a catch would see the ball drop right between them. While there were a few instances of brilliance, mostly from foreigners, they were few and far between. The lack of elite-level fielding has been a scourge of the BPL in past editions, and it continued in the most recent one.
Crowd Turnout: The BBPL lacked the usual hype from the start, when the tournament began in front of a sparsely populated venue in Mirpur on December 11, 2019. Although the matches on holidays did see some spectators, most were played out in front of sparse crowds. There were even hilarious attempts to entice the locals and those around to come and watch the matches as announcements of ticket availability were made through speakers from inside the stadium. However, thanks to a few competitive matches in the latter stages, by the time the final came around, Mirpur was at full capacity and there were even large crowds waiting outside the stadium.
Lack of star power: While previous editions boasted the likes of Steven Smith, AB De Villiers, David Warner and Evin Lewis, the biggest foreign names in this edition were Andre Russell, Mohammad Amir and Chris Gayle. The biggest draw in any T20 event, Gayle only joined Chattogram for the last phase. The likes of Shahid Afridi left in the middle, and although Hashim Amla joined Khulna -- also during the latter stage -- the South African played a solitary game.
Leg spin promise broken: In the lead-up to the BBPL, the BCB said that it would be compulsory for each team to field a leg-spinner and that they would have to bowl the full quota of four overs. However, although all the teams had at least one leg-spinner in their ranks, they were not employed in every match. Rangpur’s only leg-spinner Rishad Hossain played just one game, bowling two overs while Sylhet’s lone leggie Jevaan Mendis played three matches and bowled two overs in total. The 11 leg-spinners employed bowled a total of 175.4 overs combined, averaging 2.16 overs per game. That number would be much lower if Cumilla’s Mujeeb Ur Rahman -- a right-arm off-break bowler who also bowls leg spin -- was not considered. Mujeeb, who BCB insisted was a leg-spinner, bowled the most among all the actual leg-spinners. The Afghan’s 47 overs in 12 games contributed immensely to the statistics, which nonetheless proved BCB’s promise to be untrue.