When the Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) decided as late as August this year that they would overhaul the Bangladesh Premier League and hold the seventh edition without the involvement of franchises -- with whom the BCB failed to resolve a disagreement -- there was a possibility that events surrounding the tournament would be interesting. It was to be a special edition, named the Bangabandhu Bangladesh Premier League (BBPL), to commemorate the 100th birth anniversary of father of the nation Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.
BCB also wanted the BBPL to be a platform for emerging local talent. The board, through a strange announcement by BCB director Mahbub Anam in October, had made it mandatory for each BBPL team to have one overseas pacer bowling over 140kmph and a leg-spinner who must bowl four overs each game.
So steadfast was the BCB in their leg-spin promotion that two first-class coaches were sacked for not picking leg-spinners, though available, in their playing XIs.
Come the time to act upon the ambitious words, however, and even board members tied with BBPL teams are not considering the October decree as mandatory. BCB director and Rangpur Rangers team director Enayet Hossain Siraj claimed there is no such rule in the playing conditions.
“It is not being imposed but we will try to have a leg-spinner in the team. And as for playing a pacer bowling at 140kmph, the wicket has to be of that sort. Then there is also the team combination,” Enayet told the media during Rangpur Rangers[‘ jersey unveiling, which started an hour late at the BCB media center yesterday.
“I do not think it is mandatory. We [Bangladesh] have a lack of leg-spinners, so we have to prioritise. But there is nothing in the playing conditions. For the national interest, we will try to play a leg-spinner,” Enayet added.
Meanwhile, Enayet has apparently replaced Akram Khan as team director of Rangpur Rangers. According to Enayet, Rangpur is being sponsored by Incepta, a company where Enayet holds a stake. BCB cricket operations chairman Akram is to remain with Ranpur Rangers but the role was yet to be defined at the time of writing. Meanwhile, Enayet’s move has left Rajshahi Royals -- his team till yesterday -- without a team director.
It was learned that at least one team were yet to receive essential gear like helmets and batting pads despite having to play on the opening day today. Limited funds for day-to-day team operation for a few teams have been a source of frustration for the players.
Yesterday, as if to foreshadow the special edition of the lucrative tournament, there was one last comedy of errors surrounding the captains’ photo session.
After a delayed start only five of the seven captains showed up and took the photo without the trophy in one final reminder of the lack of professionalism and good management that could plague the tournament in the coming weeks.
Mominul Haque came in as proxy for Dhaka Platoon captain Mashrafe Bin Mortaza, who had left the stadium, while Mohammad Nabi of Rangpur Rangers was unable to reach the venue due to traffic.
By the time the photo was taken, the helpless cricketers stood around in the darkening Academy ground premises.
Never mind the missing captains, the BBPL trophy itself has not been seen yet, having also been absent during the opening ceremony.
It seems a wild ride is about to begin today; it’s time to strap in.