The Bangladesh Cricket Board has, for the first time, offered central contracts to 105 players from outside the national team, taking a major step towards decentralisation of the game from its present Dhaka-centric structure. The decision is aimed at increasing competition in the NCL, long called a "picnic tournament" because of the lack of seriousness among players preferring the Dhaka club circuit.
The list includes cricketers from each of the eight designated regions of the country - Barisal, Khulna, Rajshahi, Chittagong, Sylhet, Rangpur, Dhaka and Dhaka Metropolis - that take part in the NCL.
Cricketers with more than 11 years of first-class experience will be paid Tk 25,000 (approx $300) per month under Catergory A. Players with 6-10 years of experience will receive Tk 20,000 (approx $240) per month in Category B and Tk 15,000 (approx $180) per month in Category C for players who have played for 1-5 years. The 2012-13 domestic season will begin in the second week of October, but the contracts will be effective on January 1, 2013. These salaries will be in addition to the match fees that the players will continue to receive.
The BCB chief AHM Mustafa Kamal made the announcement at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium in Mirpur during a function attended by BCB directors, national selectors and some first-class players, who were handed the contracts.
"This is just the beginning. We have given the players the contracts and soon we will be able to put in place the infrastructure across the country," Kamal told ESPNcricinfo.
Hannan Sarkar, who has played 17 Tests, 20 ODIs and 92 first-class games, spoke on behalf of the players and talked about the need for such a system.
"We have waited a long time for such an initiative. We always wanted to be under the BCB's contracts. We thank them on behalf of the players," Sarkar said. "Every player now will want to be under the BCB's contract. This is a big recognition for a professional cricketer. The competition that I felt as a salaried national cricketer will be replicated at the first-class level."
"This is the start of a journey, so for those who are going to be enrolled in the future, it will be much better for them. And I also think the careers will be longer from now on," he said.
Former national captain Habibul Bashar, who is now a national selector, underlined the importance of this contract to the players. "From my personal experience, I have often seen that it is hard to motivate players in first-class cricket. We have talked about the lack of professionalism in this format, but from now on, I hope this question will never arise," Bashar said.
"The standard will be higher because everyone will be serious from this point onwards. I think this step will take Bangladesh cricket a long way ahead," he said.
First-class cricket began in Bangladesh in 1999 with the six divisional sides taking part in the NCL, which is now in its thirteenth season, and it is the only first-class competition in the country.
List of cricketers
Category A (playing experience of 11 years and above): Tk 25,000 ($300) per month.
Category B (playing experience between 6-10 years): Tk 20,000 ($ 240) per month.
Category C (playing experience between 1-5 years): Tk 15,000 ($180) per month.
Barisal: Shahin Hossain (category A); Syed Rasel, Nasiruddin Faruque, Shahfaq Al Zabir, Monir Hossain, Abul Bashar, Iftekhar Nayeem and Shahriar Nafees (category B); Ishraq Sonet; Tariqul Islam, Fazle Mahmud, Kamrul Islam Rabbi, Bikash Sharma, Mohammad Sajib and Sohag Gazi (category C).
Chittagong: Nafees Iqbal and Faisal Hossain (category A); Aftab Ahmed, Gazi Salahuddin, Yasin Arafat, Kazi Kamrul Islam, Raihanuddin Arafat and Rezaul Karim (category B); Sadid Hossain, Mahbubul Karim, Mominul Haque, Iqbal Hossain Rony and Noor Hossain (category C); Tamim Iqbal and Nazimuddin (central contracts).
Dhaka: Imran Ahmed (category A); Mahbubul Alam, Hannan Sarkar, Mohammad Sharif, Anwar Hossain, Mosharraf Hossain, Uttam Sarkar, Raqibul Hasan and Shahadat Hossain (category B); Nazmul Hossain Milon, Rony Talukder, Saikat Ali, Taibur Rahman, Nazmul Islam (category C); Shuvagata Hom (central contract).
Dhaka Metro: Mohammad Ashraful, Tareq Aziz Khan, Arafat Sunny, Arafat Salahuddin, Nadif Chowdhury, Mehrab Hossain Jr, Talha Jubair, Shamsur Rahman, Marshall Ayub, Arman Hossain and Sharifullah (category B); Asif Ahmed and Tasamul Haque (category C); Elias Sunny and Mahmudullah (central contracts).
Khulna: Tushar Imran (category A); Nazmus Sadat, Sahagir Hossain, Ziaur Rahman and Nizamuddin (category B); Dolar Mahmud, Taposh Ghosh, Murad Khan, Mithun Ali, Anamul Haque (category C); Mashrafee Bin Mortaza, Shakib Al Hasan, Abdur Razzak, Imrul Kayes and Rubel Hossain (central contracts).
Rajshahi: Anisur Rahman (category A); Mohammad Shahjada, Farhad Hossain, Junaid Siddique, Farhad Reza, Saqlain Sajib and Delwar Hossain (category B); Jubair Ahmed, Mizanur Rahman, Sabbir Rahman, Mukhtar Ali, Sanjamul Islam (category C); Mushfiqur Rahim, Jahurul Islam and Shafiul Islam (central contracts).
Rangpur: Naeem Islam, Dhiman Ghosh, Sajidul Islam and Sohrawardi Shuvo (category B); Ariful Haque, Shuvashish Roy, Mahmudul Hasan, Tariq Ahmed, Tanveer Haider, Alauddin Babu, Saymon Ahmed, Naeem Islam Jr, AR Rahman Rony and Liton Das (category C); Nasir Hossain (central contract).
Sylhet: Rajin Saleh and Imtiaz Hossain (category A); Ezaz Ahmed, Tapash Baisya, Alok Kapali, Enamul Haque Jr, Nabil Samad, Golam Rahman, Golam Mabud and Robiul Islam (category B); Abul Hasan, Sayem Alam, Abu Jayed and Shaker Ahmed (category C).