Mustafizur to be BPL's eighth icon player
Mustafizur Rahman will be the eighth A-plus category player in the 2017-18 Bangladesh Premier League. The BPL governing council has also announced that a franchise can field up to five overseas players in their XI (minimum three), as was the case in the 2012 and 2013 editions.
Mustafizur had missed the BPL's 2016-17 season since he was rehabilitating following shoulder surgery. He will now be up for grabs until August 24, when the franchises have to announce their icon and retained players from last season.
So far Mashrafe Mortaza has been signed up by Rangpur Riders while Khulna Titans and Comilla Victorians have announced Mahmudullah and Tamim Iqbal as their icons. Shakib Al Hasan remains with Dhaka Dynamites while ESPNcricinfo has learned that Mushfiqur Rahim is in talks with Rajshahi Kings.
Only icon players have the right to choose their teams, the BPL secretary Ismail Haider Mallick has said. Sabbir Rahman, Soumya Sarkar and Mustafizur will now negotiate with the three remaining franchises - Barisal Bulls, Chittagong Vikings and Sylhet.
"There were seven teams last year so the number of A-plus players was seven too," Mallick said. "Since Sylhet has been added, we have increased the category by adding Mustafizur Rahman. We have also opened up the market for the A-plus players. Bangladesh team's senior players had raised the issue with the BCB president last year saying that since they are experienced cricketers, they should not be paid a fixed amount. I feel they will also be paid well this time."
But since the A-plus players' payment will be negotiated between them and the franchises, the BCB will not take responsibility, Mallick said. He also confirmed that the decision to allow five overseas players in an XI came mostly from the franchises, five of whom were in favour of it.
"We were under pressure from the franchises who gave us in a written statement that they want five foreigners in the XI," he said. "We, the BPL governing council, also feel the same since there are now eight teams.
"A franchise can sign as many foreign players as they want, and whenever they want. We have not put any restrictions on it."
Mallick also informed that a franchise had to sign at least 13 local and two overseas players from the draft that is scheduled to be held on September 16. He added that the tournament would now begin on November 2 instead of November 4.
Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent. @isam84