Euro 2020 Special

The Start of the Bangladesh Premier League


The ninth edition of the Bangladesh Premier League (BPL) will begin on January 6th. One of the older T20 franchise tournaments – dating back to 2012 it predates both the Pakistan Super League and the Caribbean Super league – it finds itself now having to compete on the calendar with a number of other competitions.

That means it has struggled to attract some of the biggest names in the sport.


The format

The BPL will see seven franchise teams that will play a total of 46 games across three cities – Dhaka, Chattogram, and Sylhet. The tournament culminates with the final, which will take place in Dhaka on February 16th.


Big names to have graced the competition

Some of the biggest names to have played in the BPL in the past include Chris Gayle, David Warner, Rashid Khan and Dwayne Bravo. Jofra Archer and Nicholas Pooran also featured in it at the incipient stages of their careers.


Scheduling conflicts

The problem that the BPL faces is trying to attract the best players to appear in the competition this year when there are so many alternatives available to them.

The new South African tournament – the SA20 – is about to start – heavily backed by franchise owners from the Indian T20 league – as well as the inaugural UAE IL T20. Meanwhile, Australia’s Big Bash League is also running concurrently.

By the time that the BPL draft was held on November 23rd, many of the players they might have wanted had already been snapped up by other leagues.

It raises a broader question. How much T20 cricket can the world take?

Demand is beginning to out-strip supply as far as players are concerned, especially with the planned expansion of the Indian T20 league on the horizon.

Whilst this may be good in the short-term for the bank balances of players, it raises big issues around workload. And it also may be undermining the international game, as can be seen in the case of New Zealand fast bowler, Trent Boult, who turned down a central contract with them in favour of becoming a T20 “gun for hire”.


BPL Controversies

The BPL has not helped its bid to being taken seriously, because of a series of controversies.

These included a match-fixing scandal in 2013 which saw former Bangladesh captain Mohammad Ashraful banned for eight years for match and spot-fixing in the BPL.

There have been instances of franchises not paying players on time, teams fielding players without the eligible documentation, and even a mix-up over who made the semi-finals during to an error in the points table.


Frequent changes of team ownership

Unlike the Indian T20 franchise league, where the owners tend to stay entrenched, there is a regular churn in the BPL, with 27 different owners in 9 years. Indeed it is not unknown for a team to change owners in the middle of a season. Sylhet, for example, has had six different owners, and Dhaka five, Comila, dropped out of the BPL for one season, whilst the Rajshahi franchise ceased to exist after the 2019 season.


Who is playing this year?

Despite the intense competition, the BPL has managed to attract some big names. Pakistan captain Babar Azam and his international team-mates Mohammed Rizwan and Shaheen Shah Afridi (fitness depending) have all signed-up, and England’s Dawid Malan and Zimbabwe all-rounder Sikandar Raza, have committed to play a few games each (although both are also expected to feature in the UAE IL T20 as well.

And it will also feature Bangladesh’s top players as well, including Shakib Al-Hasan, Mustafizur Rahim, Tamim Iqbal and Mashrafe Mortaza.

Other up and coming players hoping to make a name for themselves include Brandon King of the West indies, Sri Lanka’s Chamika Karunaratne, and Max O’Dowd of Ireland.

In fact, the absence of star names could be good, in the long run, for Bangladesh cricket.

In the part, the franchises have relied heavily on overseas players, to the detriment of local talent who were often reduced to the role of bit part performers. That meant that the Bangladesh national team faced a shortage when it came to choosing players able to cope with high pressure moments in white ball cricket.

More domestic players should get the chance to shine this year.




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