Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) President Nazmul Hassan has said that the cricketers going on a strike with 11 demands might be part of a bigger conspiracy and added that they are going to find out who is behind it.
BCB held an emergency meeting after the players announced 11 demands on Monday and went on a strike until the demands were met. After the meeting, BCB President Nazmul Hassan along with his board members talked about the strike in a press conference.
The BCB president said that the cricketers were successful in ruining the image of Bangladesh cricket to the world. He said that he had been facing questions from ICC, ACC and other cricket boards since the strike.
The BCB President said that the players were yet to contact them in a formal way. He added that the reason behind the players not reaching the board was that all their demands would be approved once they were formally contacted.
Nazmul Hassan smelled conspiracy in the matter and said, "The facilities players are asking for, all of these are either done or being done. These (facilities) were not there before, and now when it is being done, why have they gone on strike? That too right before a tour to India?"
Questioned who were behind such conspiracy, he said that he knew who it was all these and it would be revealed within days. Asked to disclose it now as he already knew, he insisted that it's only a matter of time before everybody knew.
He said that this is a plan to destabilize Bangladesh's cricket, and everybody up to the government knows this. He added that the ones who planned this are trying to enforce a harsh decision from ICC on Bangladesh for not touring India.
Nazmul said that he was shocked by the response of the cricketers. He said, "They can bring up their demand, it's natural. But it is shocking that they have gone on strike for that! I can not believe that our players can do such a thing!"
He also said that he thought that not all players knew about the conspiracy, maybe one or two were fully aware and the others were played.
In the press conference, the President talked about all the demands and also answered questions from the media where many other things came up including the personal lives of players.
Nazmul Hassan was surprised by the action of the players as he said that he thought that the players knew that there was no such demand which would have not been approved if it was told to the board.
The President started by explaining BCB's stand to the demand of the players. He said that the Cricketers Welfare Association of Bangladesh (CWAB) is not the headache of the board, and thus the answer should not come from them.
On the demand of returning to the previous format of Dhaka Premier League (DPL), the BCB president said that he had already approved the proposal of going back to the previous format almost a month ago. When questioned that this players draft was introduced in 2013 and was supposed to be only for that year but has been happening till now, Nazmul said that this was due to the pressure from the clubs. He said that there was another problem that was the clubs not paying the full payment to the players which later BCB had to pay, and the players draft system ensured that the players got the money they owed in time. But because the players wanted to go back to the previous format, he approved the proposal.
He said about the demand of changing BPL to its previous format that from day one the board has been saying that this is a special edition and it would be returned to its previous format from the next edition. Asked about the equality in salaries for both the local and foreign players, he replied, "This can be done if we arrange the BPL. But for how much money a franchise will bring in a player is up to them. We cannot have a fixed price for every player."
The players said that they were not treated properly by the BCB and Nazmul looked bewildered by this. "What kind of treatment do we need to do? The honorable Prime Minister plays with their (players) kids in her house. Can a player say that they have been ill-treated? But yes, someone will receive punishment if he is at fault."
Talking about the central contract, he said, "Besides the central contract, we pay almost 80 first-class players monthly. Now, what will we do? Increase the number to 200-300? Even pay them when they can not play?" He also said that BCB provided more players with central contracts than the most boards and what they are paying now is more than the players could ever think. He also said that the salary of groundsmen and umpires was increased by 50%.
The BCB president talked about the new gymnasiums they opened in Chittagong and Sylhet, along with the academies they are building answering to the next demand. He stated, "When all these were not done, then there was no huff and puff around it. But why now?"
He said that the players have asked for more payment in the domestic circuit and have said that BCB has already increased the match fee for tier-two matches from Tk 25 thousand to Tk 30 thousand and in tier-one from Tk 35 thousand to 40 thousand. He said, "CWAB has always talked with us about the player rights. It is being shown that we have done nothing for the players, definitely, there is a reason behind all of this."
He said that the World Test Championship was starting and it was also Bangladesh's first full tour to India, and a strike at such a time carried certain significance. He said, "When I took charge, in every ICC meeting I heard that Bangladesh and Zimbabwe would be banished from Test cricket. Now a Test Championship is starting with Bangladesh in it and calling a strike at exactly that time has a certain significance, you all know that." He added that he did not see any chance of improvement of Bangladesh's cricket in what the cricketers are doing.
The BCB President then said that calling a strike without informing BCB was all part of a bigger plan and BCB knew who were the outsiders in this plan, but were yet to find the one in the inside.
He then asked what the benefit was for the players by not playing. He asked, "If the players do not play, what can I do? What is the benefit of the players not playing?" He also said that if BCB didn't oblige to their demands, they could have decided to not play. But not deciding to play straight away is a questionable step.
Nazmul also said that the BCB has installed cameras in the Premier division amid questions of corruption in the lower leagues, and till now, there have been no accusations from anyone regarding this.
He then asked if the player (Shakib Al Hasan) who asked for better pay in domestic ever played there. He said it would have been more reasonable if someone who regularly played in the domestic arena asked for this. He also said that the player (Farhad Reza) asking for permission to play in more than two franchise leagues was never called or will be called to play in foreign franchise leagues.
He asked when the time was for more limited over tournaments and also if the national players would play in it. He said, "Not one, I'll arrange four. But you have to play. You will say and fulfil your demands but not play, such pampers will not be accepted." Told that the domestic arena is not only for the national players, he said that everyone has to play if a tournament is arranged.
Nazmul said that they were trying to reach the players but either their phones were off or they did not pick the calls. He said that there were no demands among the 11 demands that the players put in which could not be granted by the BCB.
He then said that BCB was open to solving the problem. He said, "Our door is always open for them (the players). We have agreed in far more complicated decisions, we have provided them with more than they have wanted. The situation was never like this regarding money or facilities."
Shakib in a recent interview told that Air-conditioners were not installed in the indoor facilities at Mirpur even after persisting for seven years. In reply to this, Nazmul said, "When we wanted to install ACs in the indoor facilities, we found out that the structure did not allow it." But he added that BCB is still trying to use stand-alone ACs or restructure the indoor facilities.
Nazmul was questioned that it was against the BCB rules for any board director to be involved in anything profitable with the board. Answering to this, he said that he was not aware of any board director being involved like this.
BCB now have less than 24 hours to sort out the situation as the third round of NCL starts on the 24th of October. Also, the camp for the upcoming India tour was supposed to start on 25th this month but now looks in danger now. Even though the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) President Sourav Ganguly has said that Bangladesh will tour India surely, but that looks more and more unlikely with every passing hour.