Whenever Bangladesh lose a Test match badly, one chorus is common – we must put emphasis on longer version cricket.
The captain sings the same song at the post-match press conference, former cricketers join him in television talk-shows and the Bangladesh Cricket Board officials nod positively.
But they all are quickly forgotten and the situation is unlikely to be changed in the coming season when Bangladesh play a highly crucial series against New Zealand in October.
It is almost certain that the Tigers will go into the two-Test series without any competitive first-class matches behind them as the BCB has many things to do other than thinking about it.
The ad hoc committee of the BCB, led by Nazmul Hasan, proved to be good-for-nothing so far, has succumbed to the pressure of the vested interests and is yet to start last season’s Dhaka Premier League.
As an obvious result they are unable to think of a domestic calendar for the next season and the NCL, the premier first-class tournament of the country, is going to be the worst hit.
According to previous schedule the NCL was supposed to start from September 4 and with the DPL unlikely to be finished before November, the fate of the competition remains uncertain.
DPL, the top one-day competition, is set to start on August 29 with the Super League scheduled to be held after the New Zealand series, which will end on November 6.
Given the track record, there is always a chance for the league to get some unscheduled break, which only suggests it will not end before December.
This will be the time for Bangladesh Premier League, a tournament that is similarly crucial ahead of the World Twenty20, despite all controversies that are associated with it.
The situation frustrates national coach Shane Jurgensen, who was hoping for the NCL to start before the New Zealand series for some useful match practice of his charges.
‘Ideally four-day cricket would be good but when it [NCL] is scheduled I don’t know,’ Jurgensen told New Age last week before he went to Australia on holiday.
‘There are certain things that I cannot control and are out of our control but we should focus on playing all sorts of formats in the domestic competition,’ said Jurgensen.
Enayet Hossain Siraj, the head of the BCB’s cricket operations committee, was unable to offer any hope.
‘What can I do if there is no NCL,’ a visibly frustrated Siraj told New Age on Wednesday.
‘All we can do is that we can try and arrange some four-day practice matches for the preparation of Test series,’ he said.
The BCB’s inability to set a date for the NCL has now put the fate of another first-class tournament, the Bangladesh Cricket League, into uncertainty.
Last year the BCB introduced the BCL, the lone franchise-based four-day tournament in order to bring some competitiveness, something which the NCL cannot offer always.
In the draft calendar, the BCL is scheduled to start on December 27 with Walton Central Zone facing Prime Bank South Zone in the opening match at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium.
It was earlier decided that only top 80 NCL cricketers will get a chance in the BCL, which means the BCB cannot start the BCL on the planned date without completing the NCL.
The BCB is scheduled to hold the BPL in January, a tri-nation one-day tournament involving Bangladesh, Pakistan and Sri Lanka in February, the Asia Cup in March and the ICC World Twenty20 in March-April.
Grounds can be another issue as Bangladesh has to keep its top venues reserved for the World Twenty20, which will be held from March 16 to April 6.
Acting BCB chief executive officer Nizmuddin Chowdhury said there is no bar from the ICC to hold the first-class matches at the World Twenty20 venues prior to the tournament, though the curators will always need some time to prepare the wicket for the high-profile tournament.
‘I don’t think the ICC will raise any objection if we hold some first-class matches in the venues days before the tournament starts. They will be rather happy,’ he said. ‘But we have to give our curators some breathing period as well. ’
Former national captain Faruque Ahmed blamed the BCB for the entire situation.
‘It would be a shame if the NCL is ignored this year because of the importance it carries to groom our cricketers for longer version,’ Farque told New Age.
‘I don’t understand for whose interest the league got delayed. But the BCB’s helplessness is proved when they say that the clubs do not listen to them,’ he said.
Even the BCB has no idea of where the NCL’s fate lies now.
The tournament committee held a meeting on Wednesday where they announced the resumption date of the inter-district one-day competition, but did not have any discussion about the NCL.
With the absence of Naimur Rahman, chairman of the tournament committee who is reported to be sick, no official was interested in talking about the issue.
The fate of the NCL is no better than the ailing tournament chief.