Bangladesh cricketers have gone on a strike with 11 demands and have also announced that they will not take part in any cricketing activity in Bangladesh until these demands are met.
National cricketers, led by Bangladesh national team's Test and T20 captain Shakib Al Hasan, announced their demands in a press conference at the Mirpur academy ground on Monday.
The 11 demands include major reform to the country's domestic circuit and also the Bangladesh Cricket Board's (BCB) central contract.
The Business Standard takes a deeper look into the 11 demands set by the players and how they can change the country's cricket for a long time.
The first demand was for the current committee of Cricketers' Welfare Association of Bangladesh (CWAB) to resign. The players said that they did not get the respect that they deserve and they also asked for the committee to be elected by the players.
The second demand was to return the Dhaka Premier League (DPL) to its previous format of open transfers, where the players could decide themselves for which club they will play and for how much money. The current format has a fixed pay-scale for the players and clubs choose players from the draft. This change was asked for because DPL is one of the main sources of income for the local players, and fixating on a pay-scale hampers that income.
The next demand was to return BPL to its previous franchise-based format. This year a special edition of Bangladesh Premier League (BPL) will be held, which will not have any franchises. Respecting this new edition, the players have asked for the previous format to be returned. BPL is another source of income for the cricketers and franchises are the one who deals in the cash, and thus the previous format has been asked to be brought back.
The fourth demand was one of the most crucial ones as the cricketers asked for an increment of at least 50% in the salary of first-class cricketers. The current match fee for first-class players in tier-two is 25 thousand takas, whereas it is 35 thousand takas in tier-one, which is very low considering international standards. The country gets costly with every passing day and the match fee provided for a four-day match looks not enough. Also, the cricketers demanded better training facilities in every division including a gym, indoor and outfields. They also asked to appoint coaches and physios for the first-class cricketers over the whole year - because coaches and physios are the ones who are vital to keeping a cricketer fit and better. This change is direly needed as the fitness of first-class players have often been questioned, and also their ability to play in the international arena. Many players failed to pass the barrier in beep test before this year's National Cricket League (NCL) as they couldn't score 11 which was the passing score set by BCB. The players complained about their practise facilities, and Shakib in a recent interview also told about the lacklustre indoor facilities at Mirpur, even though Mirpur is the outstanding cricket stadium in the country.
The next demand asked for an increase in the daily allowances of first-class cricketers and also to ensure that the players reached the match venues by air. The current daily allowance for the cricketers is 1500 takas, which barely covers the food and other necessities a player needs to stay fit. It also asked for the resident hotels to have a gym or swimming pool for the players to recover and AC buses for the players to reach the venue. Players need recovery time to be fit and fresh for their next game, but without a gym or swimming pool, it's quite impossible. Also, a player often needs to travel long distances to play a match. Travelling by bus hampers the energy of a player, and he often lacks the stamina to play a game in full throttle. The players also demanded the ball used in the domestic arena to be changed because players often face trouble playing with a different ball in the international arena.
The consequent demand asked for more player to be included in BCB's central contract which currently includes 17 players. This number has been deemed too low and has been asked to increase to 30. A central contract with the board ensures financial stability to a player for a year but the newly proposed number is quite high considering the other boards. Cricket Boards of India, Australia and New Zealand in their recent central contracts have included 20 players, with England Cricket Board providing contracts to 10 Test and 12 ODI contracts. The number 30 is quite high, as agreeing to this will mean that BCB will be providing contracts to not only the ones who are regular in the national team but also those who are considered as backups.
The seventh demand of the 11 asked for prioritizing the local coaches, umpires, physios and trainers. Local coaches have often been neglected by the BCB despite their success in the recent past and their history of upbringing many of Bangladesh's current leading stars. Even though the foreign coaches cost BCB a fortune, they tend towards hiring them again and again, overlooking the local coaches. The same thing happens to the Bangladeshi physios and trainers. Also, the players stated how less the groundsmen were paid in spite of their backbreaking work. The local umpires are often criticized for their poor decision-making, but their low pay-grade goes unnoticed, which leads to quality umpires not continuing on this path of career.
Players asked for another One Day and T20 tournament besides the DPL and BPL in each year to improve their performances. Players have been often criticized for not being playing good enough in the international arena, but the question remains of how a player can do well with only one tournament for each of the limited-overs formats in the whole year.
The players deemed for a fixed calendar for the domestic circuit. The domestic tournaments run without a fixed date every year, commencing at a time BCB decides. The players have said that having a fixed calendar helps the players to prepare better for the tournaments, and it is necessary considering that countries like India, England and Australia have a fixed calendar which helps their cricket to have a certain structure and allows the players to prepare accordingly.
The due salary of players has been a persistent problem in BPL and DPL, and the players have asked for a fixed time by which the due wages should be paid. BPL and DPL are the competitions in which players are paid heftily, considering their low match fees in the first-class arena. But often, this payment is not provided in time and the players are tired of running around for the money they are owed. Thus, they have asked for a solution to this everlasting problem.
BCB recently introduced the rule of not letting players play in more than two franchise leagues in a year. This rule blocks the way for using opportunities to play in different conditions and hone their game. Hence the players have asked the board to lift the embargo and let players play in more than two franchise leagues a year.
Besides this, Shakib also talked about the problems in the lower divisions, where there have been claims of corruption and mismanagement. Shakib told that the pipeline has to be better for a team to get stronger, and such mismanagement can not ensure what Bangladesh's star performer said.
Shakib added that the Women's team are welcome to join them and bring up their complaints and there is a certain possibility that they would. The match fee for women's cricket matches have been insufficient considering the men's game, and their facilities have also been poorer than the lowly men's facilities.
The strike from the players is a bold statement to the board that they are ready to do anything to make the country's cricketing sphere better. And it is high time BCB took notice of that and tried to create a solid infrastructure for the future of Bangladesh cricket.