Brendon McCullum set for maiden appearance in Bangladesh Premier League
What's the story?
Former New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum is set to make his maiden appearance in the Bangladesh Premier League (BPL). The 36-year-old has signed up for the Rangpur Riders and will make his BPL debut in the 2017 season. The Rangpur Riders are also in talks with Caribbean batsman Chris Gayle regarding his availability during the initial stages of the tournament.
"Definitely, we would get (Brendon) McCullum because there is no Global Twenty20 League now and he will be available from November 15," Rangpur Riders's Chief Executive Istiak Sadek was quoted as saying by Cricbuzz.
He added, "As far as Gayle is concerned, he wants to arrive after five to six games while we are trying to bring him earlier than that. He will surely come but we cannot give the exact date as it is still not confirmed."
McCullum retired from the international circuit after the Test series against Australia in 2016. The attacking batsman-cum-wicket-keeper holds the record for scoring the most runs in T20 internationals. In fact, he remains the only batsman to score more than 2,000 runs in T20Is.
The heart of the matter
Since his international retirement, McCullum has continued to feature in various T20 leagues across the globe. During the 2017 edition of the Caribbean Premier League (CPL), he smashed 335 runs from 10 matches at an average of 55.83 and strike-rate of 165.84 to propel the Trinbago Knight Riders to the title.
The former skipper, along with numerous other star players, was originally slated to feature in the ambitious Global T20 League in South Africa. However, the tournament has failed to take off on time due to issues emanating from Cricket South Africa's (CSA) failure to secure a financially viable television broadcast deal and sponsorship rights. As a consequence, various BPL franchises have begun signing the cricketers who were searching for alternatives.
Unlike McCullum, Gayle has participated in previous editions of the BPL. The flamboyant opener has had productive stints with the likes of Barisal Burners and Dhaka Gladiators. The 38-year-old will add Rangpur Riders to his already long list of T20 franchises if things go according to plan.
The 2017 BPL season is scheduled to take place in four phases beginning from November 4th. Sylhet, Dhaka and Chittagong will host the first three sets of games, and the tournament will conclude with the final round of league matches and knockouts at the Sher-e-Bangla National Cricket Stadium in Dhaka on December 12th.
With high-profile names such as McCullum and possibly Gayle joining seasoned Bangladeshi players like Mashrafe Mortaza, the Rangpur Riders will be the favourites for clinching the 2017 edition of the BPL.