With around eight weeks left to the players' draft 2017, the eight franchises of the BPL T20 have started preparing in full force.
The most followed and enterprising domestic cricket tournament of the country is now an eight-team affair following the inclusion of Sylhet franchise for the fifth edition of the competition, scheduled to begin on November 4 this year.
In the first segment of the two-part story, Dhaka Tribune
attempts to explore the whereabouts of the money-spinning tournament's icon cricketers.
If everything falls into place, the tournament will see Sylhet appear as a host for the first time, alongside Dhaka and Chittagong.
The BPL governing council has already served the franchises deadline for two vital decisions.
By coming Saturday, the eight franchises will have to inform the BPL GC their thoughts over having a maximum of five foreign players in the playing XI.
The BPL GC had proposed of playing five foreigners in the starting XI.
The BPL in its maiden season in the year 2012 had allowed five foreign cricketers on the field.
By August 24th, the teams have to submit the tournament authority their retainees' list, including the Icon/A+ category players.
Confusion however, has been created over matching the number of Icon cricketers to the number of competing teams.
Mashrafe bin Mortaza, Shakib al Hasan, Tamim Iqbal, Mushfiqur Rahim, Mahmudullah, Sabbir Rahman and Soumya Sarkar are the seven Icon cricketers from last season and are set to remain unchanged for the upcoming one.
It is understood that the BPL GC had proposed of having top-order batsman Imrul Kayes as the No 8 Icon cricketer but this has upset Comilla Victorians franchise.
Imrul played a vital role in the Comilla batting order in the last two seasons and the side for obvious reasons thought of retaining the left-handed batsman for the upcoming edition of the tournament.
BPL GC’s decision to promote Imrul as an Icon has irked the Comilla management and there is an ongoing discussion between the two parties over the issue.
To reach a possible solution in the spat between Comilla and the BPL GC, chances are that young left-arm pacer Mustafizur Rahman might be named as the No 8 Icon.
As of Wednesday, it is understood that only four teams have confirmed their Icon/A+ category cricketers.
However, it is only Khulna Titans and Comilla who have officially announced their respective Icon cricketer.
Khulna, who made the headlines after announcing Sri Lanka legend Mahela Jayawardene as the head coach for two years, have retained their previous season's captain, all-rounder Mahmudullah, as the Icon while Comilla have changed to Tamim from their previous choice of Mashrafe.
Tamim, who played the last two seasons for Chittagong Vikings, has changed his BPL destination but only after a series of discussion as the Chittagong franchise were not ready to let go the opening batsman.
Defending champion Dhaka Dynamites will surely retain Bangladesh ace all-rounder Shakib while Rajshahi Kings will change their Icon to wicketkeeper-batsman Mushfiq from Sabbir.
Mushfiq was unhappy with his previous franchise Barisal Bulls, and thus the decision to move to Rajshahi.
The situation has left Mashrafe, Sabbir and Soumya to still confirm a side.
It is learnt that veteran pacer Mashrafe is in discussion to join the newest franchise of the tournament, Sylhet.
Rangpur, who have got a facelift with corporate giant Bashundhara taking over the franchise, are heard to be in talks with top-order batsman Sabbir in place of Soumya.
Sabbir was released by his previous franchise Rajshahi over controversies from last season while Rangpur are understood to let go Soumya following the cricketer’s poor form with the bat.
As far as retaining the three local cricketers are concerned, the franchises are still to make a final decision, given the deadline is still a month away.
This article in its second part will report on the likely local retainees and names of the confirmed foreign recruits.