Bangladesh cricket has been embroiled in a crisis after several players led by the side’s Test and T20 captain Shakib Al Hasan have decided to call a strike until their demands are fulfilled by the country’s cricket board. This crisis is the culmination of a lot of growing tensions between the players and the Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB).
Even before the protest had gotten underway, hostilities had been bubbling amongst the two parties characterized by back and forth verbal tirade between Shakib and BCB. The board’s president Nazmul Hassan had complained about Shakib’s complacency while leading the side during their loss to Afghanistan in the one-off Test while the star all-rounder had shot back by lamenting the lack of an efficient rotation policy adopted by the BCB which resulted in fatigued players.
Recently, Shakib had launched a fresh host of attacks on the BCB for not giving adequate pay to the cricketers and felt the wealth was not being fairly distributed with those who contribute most to the game.
“I always get a feeling that cricketers in our country are being suppressed. This is not right. Everyone should have equal opportunity. A player should be left to earn what he feels he deserves. If the team doesn’t want to take the player at that payment, the player will deal with it. But to stop him from freely naming his price is not right,” he told a local newspaper.
Shakib referred to the BCB’s decision to cancel a franchise-based Bangladesh Premier League (BPL) after a fall-out with team owners. This created fears over pay cuts for players since they would be forced to play without any bargaining power with private entities such as franchises.
The protesting players have presented a list of 11 demands to the board and have boycotted all cricketing activities until their requests are fulfilled. This drastic step taken by the cricketers is now affecting the ongoing domestic competition – National Cricket League – and has put into doubt the upcoming Bangladesh tour of India.
The main demands include more say for the payers in matters related to their wellbeing. This involves revamping the leadership of the Cricketers’ Welfare Association of Bangladesh where the president and vice-president are also board officials.
Shakib has asked for training facilities and sporting infrastructure which matches international standards and increased salaries for the support staff and groundskeepers. The 32-year-old demanded the pay of first-class cricketers to be raised by almost 300% per match and spoke on the need for centrally contracted players.
"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,” Shakib pleaded in the emergency press conference called by him as he was joined by the likes of Mahmudullah and Mushfiqur Rahim.
The BCB top cadre has been alarmed by this development but they are keen on resolving the issue as soon as possible. BCB media committee chairman Jalal Yunus admitted the ultimatum given by the players comes as a surprise for the board but they hope to reach a compromise in the coming days.