In a dramatic U-turn, the Bangladesh Cricket Board this week refused to increase the number of contracted national players significantly despite promising to do so last year after players’ revolt.
During their unprecedented strike in October the players had demanded the BCB to include at least 30 players in the national contract and the authorities had also promised to consider the matter.
Accordingly, the selectors had submitted a list of 24 cricketers in January for the approval of the Board but the BCB had sent back the list for some modification.
BCB president Nazmul Hasan had admitted it after their January 12 meeting saying that they wanted to bring some new players in the list, though he did not mention any number.
On Sunday, the BCB published the new list of contracted players, which included 16 cricketers and only seven of them of got a full-fledged contract for both red-ball and white-ball.
The BCB introduced separate red-ball and white-ball contract for the first time this year in order to be more accommodative but turned it rather to a punishing measure for some underperforming players.
Senior batsman Mahmudullah and pacer Mustafizur Rahman were left out of red-ball contract while pacer Rubel Hossain and Imrul Kayes were dropped from both red-ball and white-ball contracts.
Batsman Soumya Sarkar was not given any contract for second successive year despite being a regular member of Bangladesh one-day and Twenty20 international in the recent months.
Test opener Shadman Islam was also left out of the contract apparently for his wrist injury, which could delay his comeback.
There was no contractual boost for rookie opener Saif Hasan as well after he failed to impress in the two Test matches that he played since making his debut against Pakistan.
The BCB also did not offer any contract to young pacer Hasan Mahmud and Yasir Ali, though they are with the national team in the last few series and can make their debut anytime.
The partial white-ball contract dealt Mahmudullah’s hope of reviving his Test career with a further blow after he lost his spot in the Test squad during the recent one-off Test series against Zimbabwe.
It also sent down a clear message to Mustafiz that he was no longer a part of BCB’s Test plan, though chief selector Minhajul Abedin refused to consider it this way.
‘We have not shut the door completely for them. They will be drafted back to red-ball contract once they regain their Test spot. We want them to feel some motivation to win it back,’ he said.
Mahmudullah scored just one fifty in his last 10 Test innings before being axed while Mustafiz played just one Test match since facing New Zealand in Wellington in March last year.
‘We don’t want to give anything to anyone for free. Players must work hard for their money,’ said Minhajul.
Minhajul defended their decision to drop Rubel and ignore Soumya once again saying that the duo is not regular in any format now.
‘You see Soumya. He is not an automatic choice for any format, be it Test, one-day and Twenty20 international. The same thing is applicable for Rubel,’ said Minhajul.
Soumya played three Tests, 17 ODIs and seven Twenty20 internationals since January 1, 2019 averaging, 38.33, 29.76 and 14.16 respectively.
Rubel’s return is even poorer during the period -- six wickets in seven matches in all formats.
BCB cricket operations chief Akram Khan, however, said Soumya’s non-inclusion in the contract is a mistake, which they would correct soon.
‘Soumya was dropped from the list by mistake. We will soon include him after discussion,’ said Akram.
Soumya included or not, it would bring little change to the scenario as many other players like Shafiul Islam, Al-Amin Hossain, Mahedi Hasan, Aminul Hossain, who played at least some matches at different formats in recent times, would still remain out of contract.
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