Our 23-man national cricket squad is off to Australia for a 9-day conditioning camp on their way to playing two Test matches and three ODIs and T-20's each, in New Zealand. They have a point to prove to themselves and to world cricket: they can play as good on overseas pitches as they do on home ground. The Tigers, therefore, are set to train intensively in Sydney to warm up to hard and bouncy wicket they will be playing on in New Zealand.
They are actually put on test in away matches. They have to replicate or at least approximate their home series performances displayed against formidable sides, especially over the last two years.
In this backdrop, Sri Lankan iconic now-retired cricketer Kumar Sangakara's parting words after the just-concluded BPL tournament sounded highly encouraging and inspiring. While expressing his happiness on being adjudged Man of the Match in the finals in which he helped Dhaka Dynamites to defeat Rajshahi Kings, he admitted to a certain fear lurking at the back of his mind!
Credited with having crafted many a win for Sri Lanka, he elaborated on his 'scare' thus: "I am not new to BPL, have been playing on this format for quite a while, and I must say that Bangladesh cricketers' performances with both bat and ball in the latest BPL edition have been truly extraordinary." The relentless manner in which new cricketers are coming up in Bangladesh must be a cause for 'worry' to other nations, mused Sangakara graciously sharing the feeling with the media.
He pointed out that in the recent past one could have only cited Mashrafe, Shakib, Mushfique and Tamim as star cricketers of Bangladesh. But now they are coming in droves; cutter specialist Mustafizur Rahman has rattled world class batsmen; and in spin bowling Mehedi Hassan is a new wonder boy! Besides, the performances of several batters and bowlers were eye-catching. See, Mahmudullah has lifted the Man of the Tournament award for his outstanding batting. Sabbir's batting and the bowling of Shahid and Safiul were brilliant.
"In cricket", concluded Sangakara, "Bangladesh are a well-established powerful national side-be it in Test, ODI and T-20." He is truly impressed by the emergence of new talents in Bangladesh.
He said, "Sri Lankan side is going to tour Bangladesh and that he is apprehensive as to how they would fare against such a strong Bangladesh team." He frankly admitted that on current reckoning he would place Bangladesh ahead of Sri Lanka.
Coming from Sangakara, a widely respected world class cricketer from the South Asian neighbourhood, his assessment of Bangladesh cricket exudes authenticity as well as shared pride. The sharing comes from an almost analogous experiences Sri Lanka and Bangladesh have had in terms of lows and upbeats in their cricketing legacies. Only perhaps we have taken a longer time to reach a world class niche. Besides, we have been the beneficiary of coaches from Sri Lanka, especially Hathurusinghe who has made an important contribution to Bangladesh emerging as a cricketing nation with reasonable consistency interspersed with series wins.
In the absence of structured inter-district or regional competitions that other cricketing nations do have as the conduits for talent creation, it's the BPL though concerned with the shortest version of the game which prevails.
It offers a platform for domestic cricketers to play with quality international players on hire almost at a rate comparable with what goes for the best in the country. That a cricketing career can be money spinning has sat very well on the minds of aspiring cricketers in the country. Alongside, its glamour, fiesta, advertisement and sponsorship revenues and a modernist genre of sporting culture topping it up with English as the medium, BPL represents a certain globalism with a tourist and image enhancing profile.
In the end, it needs to be flagged off that certain corporate houses are bank rolling talent hunt projects. Beginning with pacer finds, this process awaits branching out in other departments of the game. Fiscal incentives can and should be dovetailed to endeavour.