Thursday, 21 March 2019

Bangladesh League franchises oppose Smith inclusion

DHAKA: The objection by the franchises was based on the BPL’s policy that states a replacement can only be taken from the players’ draft list

Comilla Victorians’ inclusion of Australia cricketer Steven Smith for Bangladesh Premier League 2019 has faced opposition from the other franchises in the tournament. The objection by the franchises was based on the BPL’s policy that states a replacement can only be taken from the players’ draft list.

A meeting between the BPL governing council and representatives of the franchises took place at the BCB headquarters at Mirpur Sher-e-Bangla National Cricket Stadium in Dhaka Tuesday, and the Smith issue was one of the main agendas.

“The technical committee meeting was held due to the unusual situation. We thought a world-class player like Smith would add spark to the tournament. The BPL’s image would also be enhanced in the international arena. But representatives of the seven franchises sat for a meeting after the opposition was voiced regarding his (Smith) inclusion. After the opposition was raised, the situation has turned complicated. The technical committee provided the franchises the opportunity of a further addition of a player outside the draft. But since most of the franchises did not agree to this, the issue was forwarded to the board. Now the board will have the final say on the Smith issue,” said Jalal Younus, chairman of the BPL technical committee.

One-time BPL champion Comilla created quite a buzz in November this year in the Bangladesh cricket fraternity with the inclusion of middle-order batsman Smith for the sixth edition of the BPL T20. The Australian cricketer was roped in as the replacement of all-rounder Shoaib Malik, who is set to leave Comilla midway through the tournament for Pakistan’s series against New Zealand.

The BPL GC had allowed the inclusion of Smith by tweaking the regulations believing the appearance of the Australian cricketer would add additional spark to the competition.

However, the decision soon faced a written objection from Rangpur Riders, following which the BPL GC took a step backwards from the decision and made the inclusion of Smith for the upcoming season void.

With extensive discussions taking place among the parties, the issue lingered on for some time and in Tuesday’s meeting, the franchises expressed their opposition against the decision based on simple logic; the rule is being tweaked here.

An official decision on the issue by BPL GC is however, pending. Surprisingly, Rangpur had a changed stance in the meeting. They supported Comilla’s move of recruiting Smith. According to close sources, Rangpur are now eyeing to include all-rounder Shane Watson.

Comilla being allowed to rope in Smith will open the door for Rangpur to make a signing from the players’ draft list. Former Australian cricketer Watson was not part of the players’ draft list for the season 2019.

The BPL will be Smith’s fourth commitment in a T20 league, following his ban imposed due to ball-tampering. The Australian cricketer has played in Canada’s Global T20 and Caribbean Premier League, and has landed a deal with the Pakistan Super League T20.

If allowed, Smith will be joined by compatriot David Warner in the league. Warner had earlier signed up with Sylhet Sixers. The duo’s ban from top-flight cricket ends on March 29, 2019.

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