Too much cricket maybe a complaint heard in the India team set up, but for domestic players, the long break between the Indian Premier League in May and the start of the new season can be frustrating.
However, changing times have meant they need not fret about match fitness during the lull.
Earlier, as the domestic circuit took a break, players headed to England to stay competitive. This year, a lot of them looked elsewhere by opting for the Dhaka Premier League, drawn by flexible contracts and competitiveness.
“We are not bound to play the entire season. If we have other commitments, we can come back,” said Delhi and India A opener Unmukt Chand, who was part of Prime Bank Club for six games.
Abahani invited Dinesh Karthik and Yusuf Pathan while Sri Lankan all-rounder Shehan Jayasuriya played for Prime Bank.
The league allows one professional per team, and every team plays 11 games and the winner is decided on the basis of points.
“Team managements prefer sub-continent players. The wickets are tough for batting and the focus is on players who can adjust quickly,” said Unmukt, who scored 197 runs in six games.
“The presence of international cricketers makes it competitive. Every team has at least five spinners who are accurate and don’t let batsmen score freely,” he added.
For Pawan Negi and Gurkeerat Mann, it is lucrative. “They pay well and call us whenever they want us to play for them. It is an addition to our List A record. Elsewhere, this wouldn’t have been possible. In England, one needs considerable international experience to get a contract with a county side and playing club cricket in England is not competitive and a viable option,” said Negi, who featured for Rupganj.
The frequency of matches in Dhaka is better than England. “I played a match every two days in Dhaka. In England, one could only play on weekends,” said Negi.
Uday Kaul, who played for Abahani in four matches, scored 167 runs. The Dhaka league is a platform for players like him to set their List A record right. It’s been a while since he featured for Punjab in Vijay Hazare (one-dayers) as he is preferred for the longer version.
Unmukt said the presence of foreign players has helped raise the standard of local players. “Playing with competitive players, bowling to experienced batsmen and batting against accurate bowlers has helped Bangladesh players raise their game.”
The standard of umpiring remains a concern though. “It is bizarre, but in a List A match, an umpire left the ground after he received a call. He was replaced by someone with less experience. Another day, a match was stopped for an hour after the umpire did not give a stumping and the players kept arguing,” said Unmukt.