Cricket has been a beloved national sport in Bangladesh for decades, with a passionate fan base that keeps growing. This sport of skill and strategy has been a significant part of the sporting landscape even before the nation’s independence in 1971.
Undoubtedly, Bangladesh is one of the top cricket powerhouses globally. However, this was not always the case. Looking back on its early days, it is safe to say that Bangladesh cricket has come a long way, overcoming multiple challenges, including the lack of structure, resources, and infrastructure.
Today, Bangladesh Premier League, the country’s domestic cricket league, is currently ranked among the top ten in the world. The Indian Premier League, a significant influence and a model for the Bangladesh Premier League, now sits on top of that list. You can visit this page to read about IPl and other top cricket leagues globally.
This article will explore the history of cricket in Bangladesh and its journey over the years to arrive at its current state.
Early Days of Cricket in Bangladesh
Cricket was first played in Bangladesh around the late eighteenth century. This was way before Bangladesh became recognized as an independent nation. The then-East Bengal had a difficult time getting used to the sport when it was first introduced by the British East India Company in 1792, owing mainly to a severe lack of infrastructure. However, following subsequent development, particularly in the 1860s and 70s, cricket gradually became a notable sporting activity in the nation.
East Bengal eventually became the new province of Eastern Pakistan following the India-Pakistan partition in 1947. This meant that the various domestic cricket teams in the nation had to compete in Pakistan’s domestic cricket tournaments, which they dominated. Dhaka University, East Pakistan Greens, and East Pakistan Whites were the most successful teams at the time.
Cricket Post Independence
Following steady growth in participation, recognition, and prominence of cricket in Bangladesh, things started to decline again, particularly after the country’s independence in 1972. It is noteworthy that this was a period of poverty, famine, and lack of administration, partly due to the nation’s new independence.
However, subsequent steps were taken to restore the sport, one of which was the creation of the Bangladesh Cricket Control Board (BCCB) to foster and develop the nation’s cricketing talent. At the same time, the Dhaka Metropolis Knockout Tournament, the country’s first domestic cricket tournament, was launched.
A year later, in 1974, the national club championship, held until 2015, was also launched. Another notable development post-independence was the formation of the first Bangladesh national cricket team in 1977, which led them to become associate members of the International Cricket Council (ICC).
Following Bangladesh’s associate membership in the ICC, its first ODI match took place in 1986 against Pakistan. Unfortunately, Bangladesh lost by seven wickets in the 2nd match of the John Player Gold Leaf Trophy, which is today known as the Asia Cup. Two years after that encounter, Bangladesh again qualified for the Asian Cup, but this time as host, making it the first international ODI tournament to be played in the country. Since then, the country has featured in many other international ODI tournaments, including the 1990 Austral-Asia Cup, 1995 and 1997 Asian cups, etc. However, the country could not record any single victory in the 22 matches played in these ODI tournaments.
It wasn’t until the 1998 ODI match against Kenya that Bangladesh finally claimed its first victory in ODI cricket. That same year, the country hosted the ICC Champions Trophy, then known as the KnockOut Trophy. However, they did not feature in the tournament, as it was only designed for Test cricket-playing countries.
Bangladesh eventually played in its first World Cup when it qualified for the 1999 World Cup. They went on to have a great run in the tournament, defeating Scotland in their debut match and staging an upset against Pakistan with another remarkable win. Since then, Bangladesh has featured in many other international games and has made a name for itself, particularly in ODI cricket. In fact, at their peak, Bangladesh’s player, Shakib Al Hasan, was regarded as the best all-rounder in the ICC rankings. Today, Bangladesh is placed 7th in the ICC rankings for the ODI teams.
Bangladesh’s History in Test Cricket
Although Bangladesh became an associate member of the ICC in 1977, they were not recognized as a full member until 2000. As a result, the country played its first Test cricket match in 2000, when they featured against India, an encounter that saw India win by nine wickets.
In 2001, they participated in the Asian Test Championship, which saw them lose both matches in the tournament. Since then, they have featured in many Test series and matches but have yet to record much success. In fact, the Bangladesh national team was ranked last of all the teams after losing 6 out of 7 games in the league stage at the 2021 ICC World Test Championship.
Bangladesh began their journey in T20 International cricket in 2006 in a match that saw them defeat Zimbabwe by 43 runs. Bangladesh Cricket legend Mashrafe Mortaza delivered a stand-out performance in that match, which contributed significantly to their victory. One of the most exciting moments in Bangladesh’s T20I cricket came in 2016 when they hosted the Asia cup. They ended the tournament as runner-ups after an exciting run in the competition that saw them eventually lose to India in the final.
Barely two years after that encounter, they made it to another final in 2018 but were again unlucky and couldn’t clinch a victory. However, compared to Test cricket, the team’s run in T20I Matches has been impressive, and they are currently ranked 10th in the ICC ranking for T20 teams.
Bangladesh Women Cricket
Bangladesh also boasts of an active women’s team, which made its international debut in 2007. That same year, the team won the Asian Cricket Council (ACC) Women’s Tournament. Three years after their debut in international cricket, the Bangladesh women’s team was granted an ODI status following a fifth-place finish in the 2011 Women’s Cricket World Cup Qualifier. They eventually went on to qualify for the 2014 ICC Women’s World Twenty20, which saw Australia emerge as the winner. One of the major wins of Bangladesh women’s cricket was the Women’s Asia Cup, which they won in 2018.
Bangladesh Domestic Cricket
There have been several domestic cricket tournaments and leagues across all three formats of cricket in Bangladesh since the first one was launched in 1974. However, some of these tournaments no longer exist or have been modified and replaced by other versions.
Currently, the most popular domestic league in the country is the Bangladesh Premier League (BPL), established in 2012. The league is now ranked among the most prominent domestic cricket leagues in the world, a major testament to the influence of Bangladesh in global cricket.
Over the years, Bangladesh’s cricket has progressively grown in quality, fan base, and prominence. The country has witnessed many victories across all formats of the sport and is now widely recognized as one of the cricket powerhouses in the world amidst the likes of India, Australia, England, etc. Also, the Bangladesh Premier League is today one of the most followed cricket leagues globally.