The first-ever auction for the Bangladesh Premier League has seen Shahid Afridi walk away with the biggest pay packet and a prolonged bidding war for Chris Gayle. The biggest winners, though, are the Bangladesh cricketers, who collectively stand to earn more than $2.38 million. Nasir Hossain was the highest-valued local player, being signed by Khulna for $200,000.
The highlight of the auction, which lasted more than four hours and was broadcast live, was the bidding for Gayle and Afridi, two of the most exciting players in the game's shortest format. Afridi, the Pakistan allrounder, began with a base price of $100,000 and was called at $500,000 by five of the franchises. In the end, Dhaka won the battle with $700,000 after Khulna ($612,000) and Chittagong ($600,000) put in their final offers. Gayle too forced a tie-breaker between Barisal and Rajshahi, the former clinching the battle with $551,000. However, they will get only a proportionate amount of those fees because they won't be available the full season. Gayle is set to play for the Dolphins in South Africa's domestic Twenty20 series from February 15 and Afridi in Pakistan's ODI series against England between February 10 and 27.
Gayle's compatriots, Marlon Samuels and Kieron Pollard, were bought by Rajshahi and Dhaka for $360,000 and $300,000 respectively, with Samuels being in especially high demand. Rajshahi, his franchise, had to fight off Chittagong by raising the batsman's worth from $50,000 to what eventually became more than seven times his base price.
The Pakistan players asserted their popularity in Bangladesh's domestic cricket. Shoaib Malik was bought by Chittagong for $150,000, Sohail Tanvir and Kamran Akmal by Sylhet for $100,000, and Naved-ul-Hasan by Dhaka also for $100,000 - all for $50,000 above their base prices. Forgotten stars like Imran Nazir ($85,000) and Mohammad Sami ($70,000) were bought by Dhaka and Rajshahi respectively. But perhaps the biggest surprise came for Nasir Jamshed, who has just played 12 ODIs for Pakistan, being bought for $100,000 by Chittagong. The bargain was probably Saeed Ajmal, who was bought for just $100,000 on the day he completed a ten-for against England in the Dubai Test.
For locals, though, the star of the day was Hossain, the Rangpur-born allrounder, richer now by Taka 1.68 crore. "I was at practice, so I couldn't catch it live," he told ESPNCricinfo shortly after the bidding ended. "Our team official, Pavelbhai, told me about the price I drew. I am really very happy, I can't really tell you what it's like."
The case for the icon players hasn't been settled yet, with some of the franchises yet to reach an agreement on giving the Bangladesh stars 5% more than the foreigners in their squads. As a compromise it is likely that the icons will get 5% more than the local players in their squads.
Some grade A players like Scott Styris, Chaminda Vaas, Ramnaresh Sarwan, Kemar Roach and Dirk Nannes were left on the shelf leading to a few raised eyebrows, but there was room for retired players Muttiah Muralitharan and Sanath Jayasuriya, who were signed up by Dhaka and Khulna.
There was place also for Associate players Niall O'Brien (Ireland), bought by Khulna for $80,000, and Alexei Kervezee (Netherlands), bought by Dhaka for $35,000. Afghanistan's Hamid Hassan was sold for $40,000 and Canada's Rizwan Cheema for $25,000 by Rajshahi.
For a full list of players bought in the auction click here.
Mohammad Isam is senior sports reporter at the Daily Star in Dhaka