Bangladesh players want payment parity with other countries
After a season of unprecedented progress and results, Bangladesh's cricketers are set to be duly rewarded with a pay raise for 2017. The decision, which has reportedly been reached after several discussions between the BCB high-ups and senior players in the last few weeks, will be approved at Saturday's board meeting. But it is understood not all parties are entirely happy with the new pay packet.
ESPNcricinfo has learned that some players voiced their disappointment with the 2016 annual payment as they believed it was not up to international standards, particularly at a time when the team has been progressing rapidly. The general mood is that while they know they can't be paid as much as centrally contracted players from India, Australia and England, they want to be on par, in 2017, with players from Sri Lanka, West Indies and New Zealand at least. They have communicated this to their bosses, backed by numbers, which has resulted in a better pay package for this year.
Let alone Sri Lanka or West Indies, the reality is that Bangladesh's top cricketers get even lower salary than their counterparts in Zimbabwe and Ireland. Annually, the highest-paid Zimbabwe player gets $66,000 (the lowest being $36,000) and the highest-paid Ireland player gets $75,000 (the lowest being $18,000). Even if Bangladesh's top players get $60,000 per year in 2017, it is far less than lower-ranked cricket teams.
While there might be different economic situations and living standards in these three countries, Bangladesh are at a distinctly better position in cricket than Zimbabwe and Ireland. The BCB earns more than the boards of Zimbabwe and Ireland from the ICC revenues and its own deals with broadcasters. Bangladesh are, obviously, also a higher-ranked side in Tests and ODIs than Ireland and Zimbabwe.
The BCB is, perhaps, not going to pay a higher amount all of a sudden because of the scale they have maintained in the last decade.
The players refused to comment on the matters, and are said to be satisfied with their 2017 salary increments. The contentment, however, is only because there has been an increase for this year rather than the payment standard that is being sought.
Players in BCB's A-plus category, the highest grade among the centrally contracted players' salary structure, are going to earn $60,000 in 2017 compared to $37,500 in 2016. This is a 60% increase after the same category's pay rose by 25% in 2016 compared to 2015 ($30,000).
For players in the second category, the new salary will be $40,000, a 33.3% increase from the $30,000 they made in 2016. For those in the third category, the revised amount will be $25,000 from $15,000, and for the lowest grade, the salary will rise from $11,250 to $15,000 per year.
Match fees has also been bumped up, with an appearance in a Test match giving a player a $4,300, a 76% rise from $2,440 they received in the previous year. For an ODI, a player will now get $2,500 from $1,210 while in T20Is, they will get $1,250 from $915 in 2016. Still, their 2016 Test match fee was less than that of most of their counterparts except Zimbabwe.
In ODIs, the format in which they have made the most progress, Bangladesh players were paid only more than Zimbabwe and Ireland in 2016 while the other major nations were paid a lot more. Over the last decade too, the pay increase in match fees has not been too significant. In 2005, they got $1,000 per Test and $500 per ODI.
Some in the BCB believe that players should earn as they perform, meaning higher match fees in all three formats. They also feel that in the separate categories, many players earn salaries without actually playing for Bangladesh as they are chosen on the previous year's performance. The size of the group of centrally contracted players has also been discussed and it is likely that a smaller number of players will be included this year.
Some also argue that the Bangladesh players are better off than their counterparts in many other countries because of the amount they earn from their domestic tournaments like the Dhaka Premier League and the BPL. But these payments are for a single tournament every year, which they don't play for more than six to eight weeks in a year. The rest of their time is under the BCB's umbrella, playing different formats in international cricket.
The BCB does provide bonuses, which has evolved from being rewards for building partnerships and bowling with more consistency to being paid $125,000 (for the whole team) for their recent success in Sri Lanka.
After signing for Legends of Rupganj in the Dhaka Premier League earlier this month, Mushfiqur Rahim had said that he expected more from the BCB having played for Bangladesh for more than a decade.
"Both the clubs and the national side take care of us," Mushfiqur said. "We stay busy with the national team for eight to 10 months a year. If the national players could play in the BPL and Dhaka League, we could get more financial benefits. We play for the national team more for pride. If the benefit for playing in the national team could have been a bit more, it would have helped. Many of us have been playing for the national side for 10-11 years, and still feel that we don't have a lot of things. We have appealed to the board and surely they will look into that."
Mushfiqur's sentiment is justified, but a current Bangladesh player hardly gets the time to appear for his DPL club, which is more secured and has assured payments than what he gets from the BPL franchise. But hardly in the last ten years has a DPL edition been held with the full availability of the Bangladesh players. Moreover, Mushfiqur feeling a bit left out even is an honest admission from someone who has served his national team for more than a decade now. He has seen around the world what players of his level are being paid by their boards.
So why not him?
Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent. @isam84