Pink caps for safe hands, and the Tamim-Jones clash
A slightly better, catching week
As a way to motivate the fielders to put their hands together after numerous dropped catches in the first week, the organisers have introduced a pink cap for the man with the most catches. Mohammad Ashraful is the proud beneficiary as of this week, though it could easily go to Anamul Haque (for the most athletic), Kevon Cooper (most entertaining) or Kamran Akmal (for not missing many).
Anamul, the young Dhaka Gladiators wicketkeeper, threw himself to his right to haul down a thick Peter Trego edge on Wednesday. In the same game, Kamran effected two well-timed stumpings and kept things quiet behind the wicket, mostly.
But Cooper took the cake. After clinging on to a skier in Chittagong Kings' game against Khulna Royal Bengals on Monday, Cooper did a juggle and roll-down his back to end the Khulna innings. As the ball rolled towards the boundary line at long-on, he realised that Dwayne Bravo had delivered a no-ball. A scurry back and a wild throw was what Cooper managed.
Introducing, Mominul Haque
After Junaid Siddique's unbeaten 89 against Barisal Burners, comparisons to his blazing 134* in a club Twenty20 game six years ago were inevitable. The century launched him to the national team, though his form deserted him with each passing year at the top, eventually putting him out of contention. Now, the innings for Duronto Rajshahi (after some runs in first-class cricket) could strengthen his case for the upcoming Asia Cup.
Another left-hander on the rise is Barisal's Mominul Haque. He hit an unbeaten 53 that led to an unlikely win over Khulna Royal Bengals at the end of this week. The 20-year-old from Cox's Bazar is already penciled down by many as a future middle-order star and his composure in the demanding chase stood out. The scoop shot to fine leg to end the game showed cheek under pressure.
Tamim Iqbal vs Dean Jones
It was a car crash waiting to happen, but to put a positive spin on the issue, it was still laudable for the Chittagong Kings to stock up on cricketing heads, rather than spending it all on the marketing machine.
Still, a technical director for a 20-day tournament was a bridge too far and the inevitable clash of egos took place. Tamim Iqbal, the Kings' icon player, sat out four matches after his opening-day appearance due to a groin injury. But rumours were abounding that it was a tiff with the management that kept him out. It couldn't go on for too long and when Tamim was sidelined last minute in their first home game, the local boy broke down.
It was the recurring groin problem, but strong claims of a second quarrel with Jones surfaced quickly. Apparently the former Australia batsman wanted the opener to bat at No 3. Tamim sat out; Jones was fined Tk 15,000 for wrongly entering the ground during a strategic time-out. The Kings lost. So when Tamim played the next game and Jones left for India, the equation became easy though the Kings have insisted that it was always short-term.
The Pakistanis and West Indians might still be winning all the awards but another brigade has also cut a niche for itself. Several English county cricketers are now the third force in the BPL, as the local players continued to disappoint.
Darren Stevens, 35, a complete unknown in this part of the world, has been the dependable finisher for the Dhaka Gladiators. Jason Roy, fourteen years junior to Stevens, has done the same job for the Chittagong Kings, with more runs to his name. Among the English lot, Trego has quietly accumulated the most runs, while Phil Mustard has had some impact at No. 3 for Barisal Burners.
Kabir Ali has run in hard for Barisal while Irishman Niall O'Brien has been chirpy behind the stumps for the Khulna Royal Bengals in a few games. By taking place a month before the start of the county season, the BPL could interest more cricketers in England, if it runs the distance.
Little return in investment
With the budgets considerably smaller in the BPL, a foreign player bought for a six-figure salary was considered as a moderately expensive pick at the auction. With the tournament into its second week, some of these moderately expensive players haven't exactly delivered. The biggest disappointment has been Dwayne Bravo, who was acquired by Chittagong Kings for $150,000. Given his age and skills, Bravo hasn't provided the much-needed balance to the line-up with only 95 runs from five innings and an economy rate of 8.92 with the ball. Pakistan seamers Sohail Tanvir, Rana Naved-ul-Hasan and Yasir Arafat are Twenty20 commodities but Naved and Arafat have been expensive while Tanvir's six wickets haven't been enough for the slaughtered Sylhet Royals.
Muttiah Muralitharan, Sanath Jayasuriya and Herschelle Gibbs can only be described as emotional picks, with the world record-holder Murali admitting earlier this week that he wasn't even prepared to play the tournament.
There are however several local disappointments, beginning with Nasir Hossain. The $200,000 man has not been the impact player while the likes of Jahurul Islam, Naeem Islam and Shuvagata Hom have also had very little to cheer about.
Edited by Kanishkaa Balachandran
Mohammad Isam is senior sports reporter at the Daily Star in Dhaka