Twists and turns of BPL 7

The last ball bowled in the Bangladesh Premier League (BPL) was in February 8 this year when the sixth edition was won by Comilla Victorians, but there has been action aplenty off the field over the intervening seven months. The seventh edition is scheduled to be held from December 6, but after myriad boardroom machinations, the identity of the tournament has seemed to change fundamentally as the Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) announced yesterday that the seventh edition will be run solely by the BCB without the involvement of franchises, who have been integral to the tournament since its inception. We try to track the twists and turns that led to this point:

July 31, 2019: Rangpur Riders announce that they had roped in top all-rounder Shakib Al Hasan, who had been playing for Dhaka Dynamites for three seasons. Earlier, Khulna Titans announced that they had lured star Bangladesh opener Tamim Iqbal away from defending champions Comilla Victorians.

August 4, 2019:  The BPL governing council (GC) reveals that all deals struck in the off season by franchises will be null and void because the seventh edition would be part of a new four-year cycle that, according to BCB director Mahbubul Anam, would require a 'fresh franchisee agreement/contract' after which rules and regulations would be finalised. A consequence of the decision was that the seventh edition would see an auction or draft for listed players of all categories.

Rangpur Riders CEO Ishtiaque Sadeque hinted that the decision had blindsided franchises: "They sent us an email on May 11 thanking us for our efforts in the last season, informing that a date was fixed for the next edition and asking us to 'take necessary preparations' for the next edition. If everything changes to benefit one franchise, then why would people spend all the money to participate?"

August 21, 2019: Comilla Victorians refuse to accept the decision to refurbish the regulations of the BPL. Alluding to the BCB's proclamation that the sixth edition of the tournament was the best, Comilla owner Nafisa Kamal asked why there needed to be a change if that was the case.

Speaking after meeting with the BPL GC as part of the governing council's discussions with the franchises, Nafisa said: "We had signed Mushfiqur [Rahim] during the [2019] World Cup. Tamim [Iqbal] is said to have signed with Khulna [Titans] before the World Cup. Why was it not an issue then? We could have had better preparation if we were informed then. Now, all of a sudden, just because of one issue they cannot change the whole system."

September 4, 2019: Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal, who served as BCB president till 2014, says that the BPL cannot be held this year because, as per the bylaws, the BPL could not be held twice in the same year. The following day, he withdrew his statement.

September 11, 2019: BCB president Nazmul Hassan tells reporters that BPL 7 will be organised by the BCB without the franchises because the latter's demands were 'totally in conflict with our main module of the tournament'. He also said that the tournament will be named Bangabandhu BPL to commemorate the 100th birth anniversary of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman in 2020.


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