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January 14, 2013
Similar to other Twenty20 leagues around the world, the Bangladesh Premier League also banks on the number, quality and availability of foreign players. But in the first season, the trust in the BPL's organisers took a major hit after payments were delayed and contracts were not in place, months after the tournament had ended.
The quota for 60 foreigners was filled in the first season but this time it hasn't been completed because the franchises haven't shown the interest or the confidence to complete payments. Rangpur Riders, the new franchise this season, had initially called for just five foreigners and wants to add a couple before the tournament begins.
The Federation of International Cricketers' Associations (FICA) was one of the interested parties that kept vigilance on payments and put pressure on the BPL to fulfil contracts. Their apprehension remains this time around, as FICA chief executive, Tim May, explained to ESPNcricinfo. "To be honest we have significant concerns regarding the future of the event," May said. "We have recommended that players think twice before placing their trust in the various franchises and administration of the BPL.
"We would like to be able to give a more positive picture of the scenario but because of the continual struggles with 2012 player payments, the already broken commitments of the 2013 obligations, and the terrible terms of timing of player payments contained within the player contract, we are not able to endorse the event as it stands at the moment."
May also pointed out poor administration as the other issue that has hurt the BPL. There are several complaints internally about the BPL's organisational capabilities, many of which have been deflected to the lack of time. Although a new governing council took over in late November, once the directors' body of the BCB expired after four years, the same excuses have been put forward as in 2012.
"It was financial issues and sub-standard administration. We haven't seen any evidence of financial obligations been adhered to so far for this event," May added. "So unfortunately, we are not brimming with confidence at the moment, even with the change of management of the BPL."
Despite the indifference, foreign players signed up for the auction and are now arriving for the tournament. And these players are not just uncapped players with little playing opportunity but internationals too. May, however, said that the players want to play without any worry. "It's an opportunity to play cricket in a different culture, and based upon feedback from players who participated in 2012, the event itself was reasonable," he said.
"The financial factors have weighed against these for a number of players who participated last year. They simply don't want to play in an event and worry when or if they are ever going to see any payments from the franchises or BPL.
"The fact that the bank guarantees and deposits that should have already been made, still have not been made, is a very worrying aspect for any player whether he's a domestic player or foreign player."
More than half the total number of foreigners in the BPL - approximately 33 after a few pull-outs - are going to be playing their first season. FICA will still ask them not to travel, mainly because of the guaranteed payments that have not been cleared.
During this tournament, 25% of the total player payment has to be made before the tournament, 25% during the tournament and 50% has to be paid 150 days after the tournament has been completed. Shakib Al Hasan has already said that he has not received the initial fee and Alex Hales, who was bought by Duranto Rajshahi, has confirmed he won't be participating this year, in part due to potential payment issues.
"Our latest advice to all foreign players is not to travel to Bangladesh until the BPL and its franchises have produced bank guarantees for the entire player payment pool for each team. These were required to be in place by January 7 - these are still not in place," May said.
Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondentFeeds: Mohammad Isam
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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