Day-night first-class matches to be played in Bangladesh
Bangladesh will witness its first day-night first-class game when one of the four opening day National Cricket League (NCL) matches will be played with a pink ball at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium on October 14. Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) made this announcement at the end of a meeting which also tweaked the requirements for prospective bidders for the BCB worldwide media rights.
The pink ball has been used before in a women's one-day international in 2009, and first-class matches in the West Indies and England. Two English county season-openers were also played with the pink ball in the UAE in 2010 and 2011.
BCB president AHM Mustafa Kamal also confirmed that the existing first-class competition, the NCL, will be turned into a franchise-based tournament to be held on a single-league basis, the final of which will also be a day-night five-day game. "For the first-time ever first-class cricket will be played under lights using a pink cricket ball that has been approved by the ICC," he said. "This tournament will be run by the BCB, but will be executed by the different zones. We are also going to take nine former cricketers from the different regions, to coordinate this tournament."
Since there weren't many offers from companies to buy the divisional sides in the competition, Kamal said the BCB would start the first-class tournament with any number of company-bought franchise. "Even if we get [even] two franchises, we want to start the tournament and keep it competitive. The rest of the teams can have names of the divisions during the tournament," he said.
BCB also amended the prerequisites for prospective bidders for broadcasting and media rights and extended deadlines for obtaining the tender document (September 6) and submission (September 12). The new requirement stipulates a tender to be acceptable if one among the marketing agent and the broadcaster has five years' experience in the related field. Earlier all three components of the media rights - production, broadcasting and marketing - required five years of experience in cricket coverage.
The changes to the stipulations were made after only two companies made offers when the first deadline - August 31 - closed.
"We will consider one of the three components (production, marketing and broadcasting) in the successful bidder with five-year experience," Kamal said. He said he wanted the new offer to be iron-clad after the experience they had with Nimbus during the 2006-12 broadcasting deal.
"We will not only look at our financial benefit and compromise with quality. We will consider both as major selling points. We will not repeat the mistakes that we made in our last deal. We had a $56 million deal with Nimbus, in which production cost was included. Now we will not take any risk, keep everything in net-basis.
"There will be an insurance cover put in place as well. At the time of the offer, they have to pay $2.5 million as security money in the form of bank guarantee, bank draft, etc. But we will take this for a few days. A week after we give them a letter of intent, they have to pay the first year's payment in cash," he said.
Kamal will head a new committee to scrutinise the bidders. The other members of this committee are BCB directors Ahmed Iqbal Hassan (finance committee chairman), Jalal Yunus (media chairman) and Mirza Salman Ispahani (tender and purchase committee chairman). The BCB chief hoped that the new broadcaster will be appointed by this month, the deal being for four years till 2016.
Meanwhile, the BCB has awarded Tk 1 lakh ($1224 approx.) each to members of the Bangladesh Under-19 cricket team that finished seventh in the World Cup in Australia. Anamul Haque and Taskin Ahmed have been awarded Tk 2 lakh ($2447 approx.) each for being top performers with bat and ball for Bangladesh.
Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's correspondent in Bangladesh