BCB director and Abahani Limited coach Khaled Mahmud has said it is "not possible" to go ahead with the 2019-20 season of Dhaka Premier League, which was put on pause after six matches in March due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The board, according to him, is looking at January next year for a possible window, but said they might consider postponing it further if the DPL clubs show reluctance to play should West Indies' tour of Bangladesh go ahead, which would make several of their main players unavailable for the league.
Mahmud said that the BCB wants to complete a proposed T20 tournament by mid-December, after which they have to give clubs the time to prepare, especially under pandemic protocols, which would be a challenge given that DPL is a 12-team List-A competition.
"It is not possible this year," Mahmud said at a press-conference on Monday. "We can only start in January next year. We are already committed to the T20 tournament, which starts in November and will only finish in the middle of December. We have to arrange training facilities for the clubs, and allow them to get the players back to Dhaka, so I think we can only start around the first week of January.
"If West Indies are touring in January, we will run the DPL side-by-side. Those playing international cricket won't be playing domestic cricket. It has happened before. We cannot control every single thing. As simple as that. If the clubs decide they can't play without those players, then we have to think about the league after West Indies' tour. We have such a busy schedule next year that it is unlikely that we will get such a luxury. Perhaps we have some time in March or April."
The postponement of DPL is yet another setback for the majority of the country's professional cricketers who rely on the leagues for their income. In a typical cricket season, the four-tiered Dhaka league (DPL and first, second and third division) and two first-class tournaments are played, along with the BPL.
Mahmud said that organising and maintaining a 12-team biobubble is a major challenge, as the BCB has so far only experienced it with three teams in the ongoing BCB President's Cup tournament.
"It is a very complicated, difficult thing. We have three teams in the biobubble currently. Next we will have five or six teams in the biobubble for the T20 tournament. There are 12 teams in the Dhaka Premier League with at least 20 in each side, including the coaches and managers. The big question is where to put up around 270 people in one place.
"Even if we hold a single league, there is a lot of matches. So we have to figure out how much time we will need. We are in talks with BKSP about the biobubble, but given how the clubs are such big stakeholders, their decision also matters," Mahmud said.
Mahmud suggested the BCB could give out loans to clubs although he was confident that most of them can manage the costs for the 2019-20 tournament.
"BCB is positive because a lot of the players' financial future is at stake. I think the Cricket Committee of Dhaka Metropolis (CCDM) meeting is important. We have to give utmost importance to the players' well-being. If one player gets infected - God forbid - it can spread through the team.
"The BCB can arrange for a loan for the clubs, who I believe can manage much of their funds. Everything is running now, unlike a few months ago when it was uncertain. I know it will be tough on the clubs but not so tough that they can't run the teams for the DPL."