There was little indication of recuperation from the turmoil that has engulfed Bangladesh cricket over the past two days following the boycott by cricketers led by Test captain Shakib Al Hasan.
Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) President Nazmul Hassan yesterday said that the boycott was uncalled for and that the whole incident might have been a part of conspiracy to destabilise Bangladesh cricket.
He made this remark at a crowded press briefing at the BCB headquarters in Mirpur. The BCB boss was reacting to the 11-point demand from the cricketers, which was announced at an impromptu press briefing on Monday. The players also said that they would refrain from all cricketing activities until their demands, mostly financial, were met.
Bangladesh are scheduled to start the camp for the upcoming series against India on Friday. Besides that, the ongoing National Cricket League, the country’s premier first-class competition, is scheduled to resume after a three-day break on Thursday.
But as the situation stands at the moment, there is no indication of the cricketers returning to the ground, putting the much-anticipated India tour under a cloud.
Bangladesh are scheduled to tour India later this month to play a three-match T20I series followed by two Tests. The series will start with the first T20I on November 3.
Bangladesh will play the second Test at Kolkata, starting on November 22. Newly-elected Indian cricket board president Sourav Ganguly has also invited Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to watch that game.
Although the BCB president said that most of the demands made by the cricketers could have been solved through discussion, he was more critical of the manner in which it was made public without the slightest prior knowledge of the board.
He said that the boycott was a bolt from the blue and had tarnished the image of the country’s cricket. While turning his focus to a conspiracy theory for most part of the animated briefing, he also sought a few more days to unmask the conspirators.
“You all know there is a conspiracy to destabilise Bangladesh cricket. There have been efforts made to the ICC to suspend Bangladesh like Zimbabwe,” he said without disclosing any names.
But he also did not offer any constructive solution to the stalemate during his nearly half-hour-long deliberations on the pressing issue.
“If they [the players] don’t want to come, they won’t. I don’t understand what benefit they will get from not playing,” he said bitterly, adding that he could not believe they would stop playing just because of money.
The BCB boss also said that he believed most of the cricketers did not know about the ‘conspiracy’, but thought that maybe one or two did.
“We all know who the outsiders are but we will have to find out who is working against Bangladesh cricket from within the team,” the BCB president said without elaborating.
When asked whether the board would take any disciplinary actions against the boycotting players, he said: “You will all know when the time will come.”
Although Hassan tried to touch upon the 11-point demands, he was not convincing when asked why the board was yet to remove the player-by-choice system in the Dhaka Premier League, which accommodates most of the domestic cricketers.
“I have told [Kazi] Inam [Cricket Committee of Dhaka Metropolis chairman] to do that [revert to players’ draft system]”, he said, adding that he gave the instruction seven days ago.
But when asked how it was still in force when he made a commitment that the player-by-choice system would only be applicable for one year when it was imposed in 2013, Hassan said he also had to comply with requests from clubs.
The other salient points the players made were: adjusting the salaries of the locals players in line with the foreign players in the Bangladesh Premier League, increasing match fees, salaries and other facilities in the first-class circuit, appointment of a coach and physio round-the-year, improved practice facilities in every division, allotment of quality balls and increasing the number of contracted players and salary in the national team.
“We have complied with, or are working on implementing most of the demands. We are open if they come and talk to us,” Hassan said. “They knew that if they came to us with the demands, we would have agreed, but they then would have to play. I think it is part of the conspiracy.”
The players also demanded that the leadership of the Cricketers Welfare Association of Bangladesh (CWAB) step down. Bangladesh’s first Test captain Naimur Rahman is the president of CWAB, a legitimate body for cricketers which is supposed to bargain on behalf of the players with the BCB.
Although it reflected the no-confidence of the current players in CWAB, Naimur said yesterday: “We have not come here to stick to the post, we also want new leadership to take over but there is a process and it has to be followed.”