“Oh, I almost forgot; yes, the players' transfer is tomorrow,” was the somewhat surprised reply from the cricket official when asked about the inter-club players' transfers for the upcoming Dhaka Premier Division Cricket League, starting today (3pm-8pm) at the Bangabandhu National Stadium.
One cannot blame him as long gone are the days when the country's most coveted competition was at the centre of attention. The amount of interest, drama and anxiety surrounding the players' transfer is now a long lost memory.
This is still the country's oldest and only recongnised 50-over competition and its importance has not diminished, only the fanfare has lessened; perhaps due to Bangladesh's emergence as a major force in world cricket.
Everything remained quiet even on the eve of this season's players' transfer, which will be conducted in two phases.
In the first phase, the centrally-contracted players and those who will be travelling to the West Indies in August will take part today and tomorrow while the second phase, set to take place on August 27 and 28, will involve the remaining players. The league is scheduled to begin on October 10.
Currently interest surrounds the pool players. Due to his six-month suspension Shakib Al Hasan was not included in the pool but defending champions Gazi Tank left the door open for the all-rounder in case BCB reduces his suspension.
“We confirmed Tamim from the pool and it's mandatory to take a pacer so we confirmed Rubel Hossain. If the board allows Shakib, then definitely he will play for us,” Gazi Tank owner Lutfur Rahman Badal told the Daily Star Sport over phone yesterday.
The board this time made two categories for the pool players -- category A for batsmen, spin bowlers and all-rounders and category B for the pace bowlers. One club can rope in a maximum of two players from the category A and one from category B.
“The board may have considered the matter of pace bowlers but due to this policy nine players like Abdur Razzak, Arafat Sunny and Shohag Gazi are yet to get any team as far as I know,” said Badal.
According to sources veteran Razzak is likely to make a deal with Sheikh Jamal Dhanmondi Club while many officials revealed on condition of anonymity that national spinner Gazi is struggling to land a team because of his attitude problems. Bangladesh captain Mushfiqur Rahim -- who is reportedly set to net the most lucrative deal of Tk 50 lakh, followed by Tamim and Shakib at Tk 45 lakh -- along with Mominul Haque and pacer Shafiul Islam struck a deal with Prime Doleshwar. Mashrafe Bin Mortaza is all set to stay at Mohammedan while Abahani, which had failed to make the Super League phase in the last season, is negotiating with all-rounder Nasir Hossain. Mahmudullah Riyad and promising pace bowler Taskin Ahmed, meanwhile, are heading to Prime Bank.
If the board finishes the league as per their schedule of October 10 to November 25, then the national players will likely get three-five first-round matches at most, which is why national pool players will be paid on a 'pro rata' basis.
While they will be available for the first round of the league, they will however be busy during the Zimbabwe series set to begin on October 24.
This season, a club will be able to register seven foreign players but can only field one in a match. “Can you imagine a transfer is going to take place without the bylaws being approved? So, it's not unlikely that they will change the foreign player quota as per their wish. You cannot expect more when a man living in Chittagong (AJM Nasir) runs a Dhaka league,” complained Badal.
Despite repeated attempts Nasir, BCB director and chairman of the Cricket Committee of Dhaka Metropolis (CCDM), could not be reached on his mobile phone for comments.a