Unpaid Rajshahi players threatened boycott
The dispute over the lack of player payments in the BPL has intensified with Chamara Kapugedera confirming that he and other overseas players for Duronto Rajshahi had been set to boycott their match against Khulna Royal Bengals on Friday.
Though a pullout was averted, a source close to the situation told ESPNcricinfo that foreign players from all franchises would stop playing in the BPL if they were not paid by Monday.
Kapugedera and other overseas Rajshahi players were convinced to take the field just before the start of Friday's afternoon game by BCB officials and the match began on time, though the players remain unpaid. The situation was so dire that the Rajshahi management had to request the match referee and the opposition captain to let them field an all-local line-up even after a delayed toss.
"We were going to sit out this game," Kapugedera said in the post-match press conference. "Most of the foreign guys who have been playing these games were doing so without being paid. We played to keep BCB's respect and to give them a chance to pay. We needed to give them a point that we are not going to play without anything.
"The foreign players, seven of us, were waiting for some confirmation from BCB that our first 25% money that they are due to pay us, will go to our accounts, or some certificate that's already going. So we were just waiting for that. We didn't get the money yet but the transaction is being made. Hopefully by Monday we will get the money."
Friday's drama first became visible when Tamim Iqbal walked out for the toss, in place of Kapugedera who has been the captain in recent matches.
ESPNcricinfo understands that although the Rajshahi management had sent out a team list with five overseas players (Charles Coventry, Dilshan Munaweera, Kapugedera, Sean Ervine and Ben Edmondson) in the playing eleven, they had to ask the match referee and the opposing captain Lou Vincent if the line-up could be changed later as there was a clear threat of a pull-out. Vincent agreed and the match referee went along with Tamim for the toss but the BCB managed to avoid a boycott.
"By the time of the toss, we hadn't received the confirmation so we were waiting for it," Kapugedera said. "That's why Tamim went to the toss because we were not sure if we are going to play. But before 20 minutes, we got the confirmation."
This season the BCB have taken up the responsibility to make all payments to players, and had asked the franchises to send them the money in three installments. The Rajshahi overseas players were given assurances by the BCB chairman that the first 25% will be given to them, but according to Kapugedera, time ran out.
"We have held couple of meetings with the [Duronto Rajshahi] owners and chairman of BCB, and told them that we are not going to play if we don't get paid.
"We have played almost all the matches, we haven't been paid anything. That's what we told them, 'What is the guarantee that we will get the money by the end of this tournament?'"
As far as his decision to play this year's BPL was concerned, Kapugedera said that BCB's assurance ahead of the tournament that they would handle all payment convinced him to come to Bangladesh.
"Our agents guaranteed us. The owners were very generous, promised us that we will get money. We didn't have any doubts coming here. When we knew that everything will go through BCB, we have enough foundation to believe that nothing dramatic will be happening.
"You can't blame any one person, end of the day we had discussions. I think the problem is solved," he said.
Despite BCB's promise, Kapugedera warned that if the money doesn't arrive by Monday (February 11), the boycott would be enforced. "We haven't seen anything yet. The players will stand the same position as today, if we don't see anything in the bank accounts. But from what I have seen and heard today, there won't be any issues on Monday."
With additional inputs from Firdose Moonda
Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent