“It’s literally stars raining in Dhanmondi’s Abahani Ground”, this was the spontaneous reaction of one the onlookers who was thrilled to see his favourite stars practicing cricket and having fun in front of his eyes.
No, the stars are not queuing to board on the National Cricket Team, but are preparing themselves for a battle for their country’s pride - The Celebrity Cricket League (CCL), a non-professional men's cricket league participated originally by the major Bollywood stars and celebrities. It was initially held in India with six regional teams consisting of the major Indian stars but in the near future is going to have teams of celebrities from Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Pakistan too. The next session of CCL is scheduled to be held in Sri Lanka later in October, 2012.
‘Love of Cricket T-20’ is the official title of the tournament. Talks are currently going on in Sri Lanka regarding the preparation of the tournament and the organizers are all set to make the tournament an epic saga that has ever happened in the subcontinent’s entertainment history. The celebrities in Bangladesh are sweating hard in practicing under the title of Vasavi Celebrity Cricket Club.
Vasavi Fashions Limited is a renowned name in the fashion industry of Bangladesh and is sponsoring the Bangladeshi team and thus, also handling the franchise deal. Initially, 40 celebrities from both television and film industry were chosen for the primary selection but opportunities for enthusiastic celebrities are still open.
The celebrities started practicing back in March, 2012. Former National Cricket Coach Osman Goni Khan has been selected as the coach who is pretty satisfied with the players’ enthusiasm and professional approach to the preparation of the tournament.
“There are separate sessions for bowling, batting and fielding and it seems to be working well with the celebs”, Goni stated. “With 5 days a week for practice the players have shown remarkable improvement in their techniques and skills. The final team selection of 15 players will be done based on their performance only, not on the influence of their stardom”, Goni added.
Describing his personal experience working with the celebrities, he said, “It has been a truly unique experience for me and all I can see is a successful time ahead of us. “Working with them is of course a new challenge than working with the professional players, but I must admit that I am really lucky to have received such good cooperation and obedience from the players”, as joyous Goni gushed!
Talking to the stars, it became apparent how serious and avid they were to have had this amazing opportunity of cricket experience. Of course their work and career are a whole lot different than cricket but being a Bangladeshi they all have played this wonderful game at some point of their lives.
Nobel, the renowned television celebrity, has been selected to captain the lot. When asked about his take on the whole experience Nobel replied, “I have been a cricket crazy person since my schooldays; I played it a lot in my childhood and now it seems to be paying off! My team mates are a wonderful bunch of people and I love spending time on the ground with them. Personally, I believe that our country will only gain from this effort as we will try our best to bring pride to our people.”
As a part of the preparations and build up to the tournament, the team is playing practice matches on a regular basis both at home and abroad. The pre-tournament practice matches will bring out the pros and cons of each player and the team’s chemistry as a whole will be put to the test too.
The foreign tours shall create the temperament for playing in foreign conditions too. The team members include Nisho, the well known villain of Bangla cinema who will stand as the wicketkeeper.
TV artist Nader Chowdhury is the team manager and Sohel has been selected to assist Goni. Shuvro Deb, Shaan, Saeed Babu are already performing well as batsmen in the practice sessions. Tahsan Khan the sensational singer is also a very integral part of the team. Fashion model Apurbo and daily soap actors Neerob and Anisur Rahman Milon are augmenting the star touch to the team. Inclusion of Shakib Khan, the great actor from Dhaliwood, has added an extra masala required for attracting the public.
Other members of the team include TV anchor Debasish Bishwas, Rubel, Aleef, Riaz, Emon, Hillol, Ferdous, Mahi B Chowdhury, Arefin Rumi, Sahed Sharif Khan, Shimul, Mir Sabbir, Shahriar Nazim Joy, singer Asif Akbar, Alexander Bu etc.
Shuvro Deb was seen particularly serious about the overall state of preparation. While talking to him during a sunny Saturday morning practice session, he emphasized on the importance of commitment from the players.
“It’s not easy toiling under the summer sun but we are enjoying it”, he said. It was understandable that due to the humidity the sun generally beats down hard on this part of the world and as a result all the celebrities had to put on heavy sunscreen to protect their skins from sunburn.
“We are dedicated to our physical and dietary routine and are improvising to keep our priorities on track”, Shuvro Deb added.
Whatever happens as the end result, whoever lifts the trophy up, and it will certainly be a wonderful sight for all Bangladeshis to watch their beloved stars having a tussle with the international stars in this wonderful sport which runs through the vein of every citizen of Bangladesh.
For now, all of us can only dream, speculate and wait for things to unfold. Maybe the day is not far away when the whole country will reverberate the passionate cheers brought by these band of real life heroes. For the celebrities, it is going to be an inspiring experience as the whole country and her citizens are going to wish and pray for another festive round of victorious moment. For us, the ever stimulated cricket fans, the anticipation of victory and joy has to wait to happen.
The story was first published in INTELLECT Issue no.2, dated July 2012