While national and top-level cricketers are enjoying a much-needed break after the Bangladesh Cricket League, there is huge competition among the lower level players in the ongoing First Division Cricket League across the capital.
Rain however played foul yesterday and all the three matches -- Surjo Torun Club-Rapid Foundation, Kalindi Krira Chakra-Victoria Sporting Club and Rupganj Tigers-Axiom Cricketers -- were washed out.
With 14 points from seven games, Uttara Sporting Club are in top spot in Group A while Kakrail Boys Club lead Group B with 11 points from seven games.
The competition to get promoted to the Dhaka Premier League among the first division clubs is intense, but interestingly there are highly sought cricketers at the first division level who are meant to play only at this level and, unlike the teams they represent, do not worry about playing in the top tier. It is in fact part of their self-assigned purpose not to think about participating in the Dhaka Premier League (DPL).
Aslam Hossain, a wicketkeeper-batsman from Magura, has been playing first division cricket for over eight years now and is known as a specialist at this level for his consistent performances. He is in high demand from clubs seeking promotion to the DPL and he is playing for Rupganj Tigers this year.
Aslam, who played for Bangladesh Under-19 alongside Liton Das and Anamul Haque in 2012, could not make it to the top level and has established himself in the first division league where he remains among the highest paid players each season.
“I was part of the championship title for Partex Sporting Club a few years back and also played for Surjo Torun Club which was promoted to the Premier League. To be honest, I also dream of playing for the Premier League but there are a few concerns. The first one is the financial aspect. I am getting a sufficient amount of money each year from the first division, but if I want to play DPL for a season then I have to sacrifice as the clubs won't pay me as much as I am getting in the first division. Along with that it will be difficult to get the desired batting position in the DPL so there will be uncertainty if I am not able to perform in a season,” Aslam told The Daily Star yesterday.
The right-hander also informed that it was difficult for him to sacrifice the money for his desire to play at the top level as he is the sole breadwinner in his family.
Mosaddek Iftekhar Rahi, Aslam's Rupganj teammate, is another prominent first division cricketer in high demand for his reputation as a consistent performer in the league.
Rahi is known as one of the few experienced cricketers in first division circuit who actually ropes in more cricketers like him for clubs, most of which emerge successful such as Khelaghar Samaj Kallyan Samity in 2015-16 and Gazi Group in 2014-15. The middle-order batsman from Khulna has already struck four fifties and a hundred in the ongoing league.
Arifuzzaman Sagor of Victoria Sporting Club is another with extensive first division experience and consistency. He has played one season in the DPL, and that experience has persuaded him to remain in the lower level and earn money for his family.
“I had a poor experience playing in the DPL for a season [for Khelaghar in 2017]. I did not get enough support from the management and also the payment was not good. Being the only breadwinner in my family, I can't afford to lose money even for a season so I decided to play in the first division leagues. It's not that I don't want to play at the top level but you also have to understand the reality,” said Arifuzzaman, who was a student of BKSP.
They are just three among a small group of cricketers who can be called mercenaries in the true sense, because their aim is not to play for the national side or even List A cricket, but to get the most monetary value out of their skills.