Bangladesh's cricketers have decided not to participate in any cricket activity for the foreseeable future until their demands for the improvement of cricket in the country are met. The immediate impact of their action will be on the National Cricket League first-class tournament, currently in progress, the training camp for next month's tour of India, and possibly the tour itself.
The players released a list of 11 demands, including a reversal of the Bangladesh Cricket Board's decision last month to abandon the Bangladesh Premier League's franchise-based model. Those present at the press conference, at the National Cricket Academy in Dhaka, included Shakib Al Hasan and Mahmudullah.
"Everything is included," Shakib said, when asked specifically about the pre-tour camp. "Apart from the Under-19s and the other age-group teams, all first-class and national teams are included. From today. From the National Cricket League to first-class, national team preparations, internationals… everything is included."
Nizamuddin Chowdhury, the BCB chief executive, said the board would react only once the demands are presented to them formally and they know the details.
Asked what response they anticipated from the board, Shakib said solutions would be found when the demands were met or discussed. "When the demands are met, normal service will resume," he said. "All of us want cricket to improve. Some of us will play for another ten years, some for four-five years, but we want to create a good environment for the players who will come after us, so Bangladesh cricket can move forward."
The state of cricket in the country had triggered simmering discontent among the players, which led to a number of them coming together and putting together a list of demands/grievances, which are as follows:
- The leadership of the Cricketers' Welfare Association of Bangladesh must step down immediately, as the president and vice-president are both BCB directors. The players will vote to elect the next committee
- The Dhaka Premier League must go back to its former avatar, where players had the option of choosing the teams they wanted to play for and could negotiate their salaries with the clubs
- The Bangladesh Premier League must return to its earlier franchise-based model, and local players must be allowed to have similar base prices as overseas players
- The salaries in first-class cricket are too low; they must be increased to Tk 1 lakh (US$ 1200 approx.) per match [a hike of around 300%]
- Gyms, indoor nets, grounds, etc must be improved across the country, and the teams should have round-the-year coaches and physios. Quality of balls and daily allowances to players must also improve, and the team hotels must be above one- or two-star standards, with gyms and swimming pools
- The number of centrally contracted players must be increased to 30, and the retainers should go up too
- Salaries of groundsmen, local coaches, umpires, physios and trainers must be raised to professionalise the system
- There are two domestic first-class tournaments, but one each for one-day cricket and T20 cricket; one more one-day and T20 tournament must be introduced
- A proper calendar for domestic tournaments must be put in place
- The pending payments from the Dhaka Premier League should be cleared by the stipulated time
- When free of national or domestic duties, players must be allowed more than two NOCs to play in overseas franchise leagues
Shakib clarified that women cricketers were not included in the developments but added that they were welcome to join. "We haven't been able to include the women cricketers here, because it was done in a rush," he explained. "If they have any demands, they are most welcome to join us. I am sure they have grievances too. If they come to us and join us, we will be able to put forward their demands too."
BCB media committee chairman Jalal Yunus seemed amenable to the players' wants but was worried about how everything has played out.
"Is this a step to destabilise our cricket? This is also a question now. The whole scenario is a surprise to us," he told Daily Star. "Most of their demands are logical -- with none being such that cannot be met. And most of their demands have or are already being implemented. For instance, their demand for BPL to go back to being a franchisee-based league, is already being implemented as we already mentioned that this edition of BPL is a special edition [with the tournament run by the board without any franchises]. And all their other demands are also negotiable.
"However, this whole 11-point demand came as a surprise and a shock because they never came to us [the BCB] with the demands before; instead they went straight to the media with an ultimatum which is quite alarming for Bangladesh cricket."
Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent. @isam84