The moment the concept of Bangladesh Premier League (BPL) was brought into public attention, a debate began over Bangladesh Cricket Board's ability to stage a tournament modelled on the Indian Premier League (IPL).
The first question was whether the BCB could strike a balance between the commercialisation of cricket and the development of players, especially when the country desperately needed to focus on improving the standard of first-class cricket to save face in the international arena. Most importantly, many also had doubts over the governing council's ability to properly observe all legal formalities related to undertaking and shaping such a massive financial venture.
But the board prioritised the staging of the BPL, seeing it as a necessary response to the demands of the times and were finally able to complete the first edition successfully on the field in February this year. The Tweny20 tournament contained all the excitement and entertainment that the cricket crazy fans were craving with the big names of international cricket despite corruption controversies and a fiasco over the fourth semi-finalists.
But all on-field success seemed to have been marred by the non-payment of dues to contracted BPL players. The tug-of-war between the Federation of International Cricketers Association (FICA) and the BPL governing council over the players' outstanding payments is tarnishing the image of Bangladesh cricket in the international arena. In response to FICA CEO Tim May's various statements over the last two months, the BPL governing council officials came up with salvos threatening the various franchises with new payment deadlines.
It became a funny and ludicrous game which only served to damage the image of Bangladesh cricket even more. And interestingly enough, the franchises kept mum regarding the non-payment issue though it should not have happened if a professional framework was in place at the onset.
While it is true that the governing council is solely responsible regarding the running of the tournament, the franchises are what makes the tournament what it is. The board is dreaming if they think that the BPL will be successful in the long run and find a strong footing without professionalism among the franchises.
So far the governing council could not provide the details of the payments because they are not getting enough support from the franchises. It is also curious why the franchises have maintained radio silence when board officials are defending them by saying that there only a minimal amount is unpaid mainly because of some technical problems. The non-payment issue is direr for the local players than the foreign players. It seems, astonishingly, that the franchises are vanishing from the scene.
The BPL is also facing another major issue with the National Board of Revenue (NBR), which has been chasing the involved parties to realise the taxes owed by the BPL. The entire competition is based along the lines of the IPL but the BCB have paid little attention to the documentation from the very beginning in a tournament where millions of dollars have changed hands. There may lie the main problem with the tournament.
Transparency must be the BPL's top priority but it seems the board was less than bothered about paperwork. The governing council chairman Gazi Ashraf Hossain had repeatedly said that they have faith in words but he might now have fully understood how difficult it is to chase the franchises without any proper documentation.
The legal issues were not a source of concern for the organisers and they always displayed scant interest to talk about the matter. Such a tournament can hardly be expected to be successful in the long run if it doesn't stand on a proper legal framework.
The BCB must settle all the issues before the next edition begins early next year to disprove the critics who termed it a risky venture and to restore the country's cricketing reputation.