A sentiment often encountered online, from Indians of course, is that Bangladesh is somehow undeserving of Test status and that it was a conspiracy of the BCCI that led to them getting their place at the big boy’s table. This sentiment, needless to say, offends my sentiments. Dictating that a country should not play just because they lose most of their games is like saying someone should not sing just because he has a bad voice. Bangladesh deserves every bit of their Test status. And this they do purely on the basis of their fans and the enthusiasm and joy they bring to the game.
The Bangladeshi fan, and since I have frequented Bangladeshi cricket fan boards I have had a chance to observe them, has a fairly unique way of supporting their team. For instance, before every match against India, they construct a victory thread where they predict how Bangladesh will humiliate India in the game that is to be played, invoking memories of how they destroyed India in the World Cup 2007 and discussing, with nary a trace of jingoism, how Tamim Iqbal is the baap of Sehwag, how Zaheer Khan is not fit to carry the kitbag of Mashrafe Mortaza (sexily called “Mash” , whether as a dedication to the TV series or to Mash potato [aloo siddho] I cannot decide), how Syed Rasel is the next Akram and how Shakib ul Hassan is a much more valuable player to his side than Sachin Tendulkar.
Yes India gets them riled up and justifiably so. As pointed out by many a Bangladeshi fan, India is so afraid that Bangladesh will whip their asses that they never call Bangladesh for a tour of India. Not just that, the BCCI reprobates deliberately use their clout inside ICC to weaken Bangladesh and their brother nation of Pakistan and then depute their minions like Sidhu to trash-talk Bangladesh’s batting prowess, which if you recall, provoked an angry video response from a fan who called Nobhojeet Seengh Seedhu a cockroach (video since removed for the sake of friendly relations between neighbors).
The most bile though (and trust me after a lunch of shorshe ilish one does produce a lot of bile) had been reserved for IPL. It is seen as 1) a sinister plot hatched by the BCCI to ensure India’s world domination and 2) a sinister plot hatched by the BCCI to humiliate Bangladeshis and keep them from developing their game, a fact which explains why Bangladeshis almost always never get chosen at the auctions, despite them being better players than the Indians. I mean honestly, if this was all fair who would pay millions for Dhoni while totally ignoring far greater talent like Mushfiqur Rahim?
Which is why I was very happy when I heard of BPL. No I do not mean Below Poverty Line or that line of TVs popular in the 90s. I mean the Bangladesh Premier League, bigger, better and more boisterous than the IPL in every respect. The quality of cricket here is stellar. Chris Gayle and Kieron Pollard (both of whom I believe will one day appear for both sides in a cricket game) have this excited look about their faces, the kind you see on the faces of Gunda-loving husbands taken out for Valentine Day shopping by their wives. Dwayne Bravo is seen carefully planning the injury he will pick up right after IPL. Atul Wasson, who has been seen on TV as an expert on cancer post-Yuvraj, his wise words earning him the sobriquet “Emperor of all Commentaries” is seen seated between two comely lasses in the TV box asking, with barely concealed mirth, “What entertainment…what fashion shows…what parties are planned after the game?” to which one comely lass says “We shall see. It is a saaprise”. Poetic descriptions of the game like “Mahmudullah Riyadh’s balls are wet and sticky” and the Bangladeshi Mandira Bedi saying Inshaallah as frequently as Shastri drops cliches. Chair-leaders (not cheerleaders) who are much more decent than their IPL versions, those that put “Tit-ass ekta nodir naam” to shame. And finally, the teardrop on the cheek of time, Arun Lal with his gentle eloquence. So well-organized and amazing BPL is that no longer will Bangladeshis have to offer themselves on auction, like girls at Rauf Lala’s store, and get rejected by the Indian franchises. Now they have a league of their own, where not a single Indian plays.
Far be it for an Indian to advice Bangladesh, but still as a fan of their cricket, let me make some suggestions for an even better BPL in the future. First of all, the team names. Only Duronto Rajshahi have got their name right, giving it an unique Bangladeshi feel. (Duronto for Hindi-speaking arrogant Indians means chulbuli). The others however need to work on their names. Barisal Burners? Bunsen Burners? How wannabe is that? Chittagong Kings? Khulna Royal Bengals? Sylhet Royals? Where is the imagination oh Bangalis? Why not Dhaka Dobkas or Khulna Katlas or Chittagong Chitols or Barisal Baloks? (Katla and Chitol being types of fish, Balok is boy and Dobka is voluptuous) Why not make Shakib Khan, the Bangladeshi Shahrukh Khan (or as Bangladeshis call Shahrukh Khan, the Indian Shakib Khan), a brand ambassador? [picture below]
Why not make the Nantu Ghotok song the theme song since the “Pola to noye se to aguneri gola re” (He is not a man but a ball of fire) [Video] is particularly apposite for Shariar Nafees and Junaid Siddique?
And why oh why not make a series of BPL pwns IPL ads, like Hindu vs TOI, set to the tune of the “Bangladeshi Bachchan” Dipjol’s great mega-hit song “Poont koirya dimu” [Video] which can be roughly translated as “I will fart on you, So powerful is my fart that you shall be turned to ashes and then cook food from beyond the grave ?” with their being no doubt as to who the “you” is in the song.
But be as it is, BPL is still pretty awesome. At the very least, it puts the fear of God into those arrogant Indians who want to suppress, depress and oppress Bangladesh and its cricket.
And that I believe makes it worth the while.