Six leading Bangladesh players - Habibul Bashar, Aftab Ahmed, Shahriar Nafees, Farhad Reza, Dhiman Ghosh and Mosharraf Hossain - have informed the Bangladesh Cricket Board they intend to retire from international and domestic cricket. The news, announced by the BCB, follows a report in the Bangladesh daily Prothom Alo which said 14 players, including the six mentioned above, were set to join the Indian Cricket League. ICL officials contacted by Cricinfo said nothing had been finalised as yet.
The report said the players will represent the Dhaka Warriors in the ICL. Besides the six, those named include current internationals Alok Kapali and Nazimuddin, four players who represented Bangladesh previously - Mohammad Rafique (now retired), Tapash Baisya, Manjarul Islam and Mohammad Sharif, and Golam Mabud and Mahbubul Karim, currently touring Sri Lanka with the Bangladesh Academy team.
If such an exodus does take place the effect on Bangladesh's cricket could be disastrous; the ICL is not recognised by the ICC and players appearing in its tournaments are liable to be banned from all top-class cricket. In effect, Bangladesh would have to create a national side almost from scratch. The report quotes some of the cricketers as claiming their contracts would have a clause releasing them for national duty.
The BCB said the players hadn't stated a reason for their retirement announcement and expressed "concern at the abrupt decision by so many players to retire from the game". Aftab, Nafees, Reza, Ghosh and Mosharraf have been part of Bangladesh's recent teams while Bashar, Bangladesh's most successful captain, last played in February. The six have been summoned by the board on Tuesday to explain their decision.
The report suggests the main reason for the players risking their international careers is money. Those playing for the national team are expected to pocket around $200,000 each after signing the three-year contracts, several times what they can ever expect to earn while playing for Bangladesh; the academy players will receive $30,000 each.
That kind of money is a rarity in Bangladeshi cricket but is more common in the IPL; however, only one Bangladesh player is currently in the IPL - Abdur Razzak, who signed up with the Bangalore Royal Challengers.
The plan for a Bangladesh team in the ICL had first been floated last year, soon after formation of a similar team in Pakistan called Lahore Badshahs, captained by Inzamam ul-Haq. The Bangladesh captain, Mohammad Ashraful, told Prothom Alo he had been approached by the ICL to form a team but had turned down the offer.
When contacted by Cricinfo, Kiran More, a member of the ICL's executive board, said no formal agreement had been reached. "We are currently in the state of discussion with a few Bangladeshi players but nothing has been finalised yet." He, however, declined to reveal the names of the players with whom the ICL was in touch.
The new ICL season will begin on October 10, featuring 34 matches across four venues in India.