NCL's 'Picnic Mood': What's in Store for the Future?


NCL’s ‘Picnic Mood’: What’s in Store for the Future?

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The 25th edition of the National Cricket League (NCL) is on the horizon, scheduled to kick off across the country this Thursday. However, the organization and scheduling of this vital longer-format domestic competition remain a thorny issue for regional organizers.

The tournament’s start had already been pushed back by two days to allow players returning from the Hangzhou Asian Games to join the action. Furthermore, the High-Performance (HP) squad’s forthcoming tour of Sri Lanka, commencing on October 14, will see several key players absent from the NCL’s 2023 season. This absence is already exacerbated by the non-participation of players currently engaged in the ongoing ODI World Cup in India.

Akbar Ali, who captained Rangpur Division to victory in the previous NCL, is now hoping to participate in the latter stages of the tournament. While stars like Mominul Haque will be available, Tamim Iqbal is not included in his Chattogram side.

The scheduling of domestic tournaments often faces disruptions due to national team commitments or other national assignments, which has led critics to dub the competition as a ‘picnic tournament.’ Chattogram Division, which slipped to Tier 2 in the NCL last season, will be missing five to six players due to the HP squad’s Sri Lanka assignment.

Sirajuddin Mohammad Alamgir, the general secretary of the Chittagong Divisional Sports Association and an organizer from Chattogram Division, expressed his concerns: “It’s a setback since there are various programs like HP, Asian Games, etc., during the NCL. It’s difficult to play with full strength. More importance needs to be placed on the NCL so that scheduling, except for the national team’s assignment, such as HP or A team’s schedule, does not clash with the tournament. It shouldn’t be necessary to hold the tournament all at once.”

He also highlighted the need to promote first-class cricket, saying, “If we can’t brand our first-class cricket, it’s difficult to create opportunities to develop players for the longer version. It is a common problem for every division that we build a team with a certain mindset, and after one or two games, the team is half empty. This continues on an ad-hoc basis. We are losing five to six players this time,” emphasizing that the event is set to proceed in a light-hearted spirit.

While the national team selectors, in conjunction with the board, manage the composition of the squad, Sirajuddin believes that local talents often go unnoticed. He suggested that regional bodies should have their own selection panels to build stronger teams.

Efforts were made by the tournament committee to enhance the competition last season, including the potential transition from a two-tier system to a round-robin league format with player drafts, similar to the Bangladesh Cricket League (BCL).

Selector Habibul Bashar noted, “Yes, changes may be on the horizon for the next season. Plans have been developed, but time constraints have hindered their implementation this time.”

In a country where longer-format cricket trails behind white-ball formats, more extensive discussions between regional bodies, coupled with increased accountability, could propel the NCL to the next level.


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