In one of the most dramatic scenes in Bangladesh cricket history, around 50 of the country’s top cricketers convened in Mirpur announced yesterday that they would boycott all cricketing activities unless the Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) met their 11-point demand put forward by the cricketers.
Beloved national players Shakib Al Hasan, Tamim Iqbal, Mushfiqur Rahim and Mahmudullah Riyad were leading figures in the announcement, which was made during a press conference at the Academy Ground in Mirpur yesterday.
The players’ strike means that the upcoming third round of the National Cricket League (NCL), the national training camp from October 25 to prepare for the tour of India, and the tour itself may be in jeopardy.
The cricketers read out their demands one by one. The 11-point demand included the resolution of payment irregularities in the Dhaka Premier League (DPL), a return to the players’ transfer system from the players-by-choice system in the DPL, a return to the franchise-based model of the Bangladesh Premier League from next edition, improvement in infrastructure, facilities and increased payments for first-class cricketers.
The cricketers even raised questions about the standards in first, second and third division cricket which have been beset by corruption with Shakib saying that teams know who will win the match even before going to the field.
News of the cricketers’ action spread like wildfire when journalists were informed that the players were going to hold a press conference at around 3:00 pm.
The cricketers looked organised as they gathered at the gymnasium, where at least 50 players held a meeting before heading to the Academy Ground.
Shakib clarified that they did not include age-level cricketers due to their ongoing commitments, but did say that the women cricketers, who were not included in the developments because of the rushed nature of the press conference, that they were welcome to join.
“We know that everyone is with us as we raised our demands and until our demands are accepted, we are not willing to partake in any type of cricketing activities,” said Shakib to thunderous applause from his fellow cricketers as he finished reading out the demands.
Meanwhile, the BCB’s media committee chairman Jalal Yunus expressed disbelief and shock over the cricketers’ move, but did say that all the demands were logical and could be negotiated if the cricketers would come to the board before going to the media.
“The press conference where the players put forward their 11-point demand came as a surprise to us. 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 franchise-based league is already being implemented as we already mentioned that this edition of BPL is a special edition [with the tournament being arranged solely by the BCB]. 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.”
When Shakib was asked why they did not go to the board first the cricketer replied only with a smile. However, another cricketer, on condition of anonymity, said: “Much like we first get to know many important decisions from the board through the media before they discuss with us, we opted to do the same.”