DHAKA - There is uncertainty over the participation of Pakistan players in the upcoming Dhaka Premier Division Cricket League, Bangladesh's domestic one-day competition, due to a strained relationship between the Bangladesh Cricket Board and the PCB.
With less than five days before the start of the league on September 10, none of the 12 Dhaka clubs have managed to confirm the services of a Pakistan player. This season, a club can field up to three foreign players during a match and can register 10 players during the season. However, according to the BCB, it has not received any no-objection certificates (NOCs) from the PCB, a situation similar to what occurred before start of the Bangladesh Premier League earlier this year.
An NOC is mandatory under a new ICC ruling on players participating in another country's domestic competition. Previously, the Dhaka clubs contacted the players who then sought permission from their respective province or department, and a letter was sent from the BCB or the Cricket Committee of Dhaka Metropolis (CCDM) to help with visas in Bangladesh.
This year, however, the process is likely to be a drawn out one due to the impasse between the boards. Relations between the two boards have been difficult since a Dhaka court ruling stopped Bangladesh from touring Pakistan in April last year. Throughout 2012, the BCB sought to conduct the tour only to back off citing security fears. In December 2012, BCB chief Nazmul Hassan put the tour on hold and said that the side would visit Pakistan only if the overall security improved. Two weeks later, the PCB refused to issue NOCs to its players to participate in the BPL, giving the Bangladesh board another reason to delay the proposed international tour. The PCB's decision to prohibit its players from the BPL resulted in chaos as franchises scrambled to find last-minute replacements for Pakistan players two days before the tournament began.
"It wasn't us who told them not to come [to play in the BPL]," Hassan said. "It was the PCB who denied NOCs at the last minute. We played without them, and that is how we have remained. If suddenly they change the decision and contact the clubs here, it will be a different situation.
"We will play the Dhaka Premier League without the Pakistani players because the PCB hasn't given them the NOC. There's no need for any discussions. We have accepted their hasty decision not to send players during BPL. We were not invited for any discussions at the time."
According to the PCB, it is seeking a formal written communication from the BCB before considering the release of its players. The PCB said that players were being approached directly with no written agreement from the "Bangladeshi organisers and board".
The current requirement of an NOC to engage with a player from a foreign country was prevalent last year, and the PCB had to issue the letters to its players, after the BCB made it mandatory for clubs to sign only overseas cricketers with first-class experience.
Iqbal Yusuf Chowdhury, who is in charge of Cricket Coaching School (CCS), one of the twelve Dhaka Premier League clubs, said he would seek the BCB's help in getting Pakistan cricketers to play in the tournament: "I will submit a letter on Saturday, to ask BCB to help me with NOCs from PCB."
Other Dhaka club officials have already started to look elsewhere this year, particularly to countries where players are free between September and October. A few clubs are interested in approaching Sri Lanka cricketers and some players have reportedly signed up. Clubs are also likely to contact players from England, India and Zimbabwe. A steady flow of Pakistani cricketers, international and uncapped, has been a feature of Bangladesh's domestic competitions, particularly the Dhaka Premier League. Ever since the clubs were allowed a quota of foreign players, they have mainly been interested in bringing cricketers from Pakistan.
Even when the second tier of the Dhaka league system or the first-class competition allowed foreigners for a short while, Pakistani players were the ones in demand. Players who are regulars in the Dhaka Premier League could also suffer financially, as a result of the issues between the boards. Usually, players are paid between $5,000 to $15,000 per season, depending on their first-class experience and Dhaka league performance. For international players, the rate goes up substantially and the clubs are often rewarded.
Wasim Akram was the biggest name from Pakistan to have played in the Dhaka league. Shahid Afridi, Abdur Razzak, Shoaib Malik and Imran Farhat have also played domestic cricket in the country; Farhat scored the first double-century in Bangladesh first-class cricket. In recent years, Misbah-ul-Haq, Nasir Jamshed, Ahmed Shehzad, Khurram Manzoor, Khalid Latif, Fawad Alam and Hammad Azam have played in the Dhaka Premier League regularly.