India’s cash rich franchise Twenty20 tournament, Indian Premier League, has completed 12 successful seasons and barring the third season, in every edition at least one cricketer from Bangladesh has participated in the extravagant tournament.
However, the 13th edition, which is currently indefinitely postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic, is set to be only the second time that the IPL will be held without any Bangladeshi players’ name in the team sheets.
Only six Bangladeshi cricketers – Abdur Razzak, Mashrafee bin Murtaza, Mohammad Ashraful, Sakib al Hasan, Tamim Iqbal and Mustafizur Rahman – so far have played in the IPL and except Sakib and Mustafiz, none of the others have made a favourable impression in the tournament.
Sakib has been the most successful Bangladeshi cricketer in the IPL, winning the tournament twice in 2012 and 2014 with the Kolkata Knight Riders, but he is not eligible to play because he is serving a year-long banishment from cricket due to undisclosed contact with bookies.
Mustafiz began his IPL journey with a bang by winning the tournament in his very first season in 2016 with the Sunrisers Hyderabad while also being named the ‘Emerging Player of the Year’.
But the player soon went out of favour due to his dip in form and injury troubles as he skipped the tournament last season and he also remained unsold in the 2020 IPL auction.
Apart from Mustafiz, Mahmudullah, Mushfiqur Rahim, Mohammad Saifuddin, Tamim Iqbal, Mehedi Hasan, Taskin Ahmed and Soumya Sarkar also put their name in the auction but all of them faced the same fate.
Mushfiq has a long history of denials from the IPL franchise owners, as he has faced rejection in the IPL auction in all 13 editions.
Mushfiq, who starred in Bangladesh’s first win against India in India in a Twenty20 match in Delhi in November last year, initially did not want to put his name in the auction list but later agreed upon an unnamed franchise’s request.
But in the auction held in Kolkata in December 19, Mushfiq, whose base price was Rupees 75,000,00, remained unsold.
Ashraful, who once played for Mumbai Indians, thought the reason behind this disinterest towards Bangladeshi cricketers is their lack of ability in the shortest format.
‘I don’t think our cricketers have that quality. In IPL, the teams need players who can score around 200 strike-rate, score 60 runs off 20 balls on a regular basis. Our players hardly possess that ability against a good bowling attack,’ Ashraful told New Age.
Ashraful, who played a knock of 61 off 27 balls against West Indies in the inaugural edition of ICC World Twenty20 in 2007, said that he doesn’t see the same quality among his successors.
‘If you see Bangladesh’s overall Twenty20 record, it’s not very good. We struggle to put high totals on the board, our bowlers can’t defend well. So, in a very competitive scenario, our cricketers wouldn’t make the cut.
‘Sakib is exceptional, his biggest advantage is he is an all-rounder. Mustafiz played as long as he bowled well and now, he is dropped,’ he said.
Mohammad Salauddin, who was the coach of the 2019 Bangladesh Premier League champions Cumilla Victorians, echoed Ashraful and said the Bangladesh players lacked the skill to get picked in a tournament like IPL.
‘You see, for batsmen the chances are very low. Up in the order or in lower order for a quickfire innings, no way our cricketers suit the role. As a bowler, there were chances as Mustafiz played and Sakib was also heavily used as bowling option.
‘They lack skill to play in such tournaments like IPL or any other franchises tournaments outside Bangladesh. The team owners will find plenty of alternatives for a Bangladeshi cricketer, therefore there is no demand,’ Salahuddin said.
Chief executive officer of Rajshahi Kings, a BPL franchise, Tahmeed Azizul Huq thinks Bangladeshi cricketers lack brand and marketing value and other off-field qualities, which franchises in a global scale tournament like IPL look for.
‘Bangladeshi cricketers lack marketing and branding value. A franchise doesn’t mere hire a player just to score or throw the ball. Big Names of the industry come to IPL to showcase their brand, their presence in the market. It’s becoming like Superbowl. Bangladeshi cricketers just don’t fit their bill,’ Tahmeed said.
‘When a franchise hires someone, they want to take full service from him. Like reaching out to their fans, being active in media and social media. As you can see, Mustafiz could hardly talk. And there is some backdoor stuff too.
‘Players agents also campaign for their contracted players because they could make a cut out of the deal. In many ways, it’s beyond cricket and Bangladeshi cricketers lack those qualities.’
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