What has changed a year after the players’ strike? | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, October 21, 2020 / LAST MODIFIED: 02:54 PM, October 21, 2020

What has changed a year after the players’ strike?

Exactly a year ago on this day, Bangladesh cricket was rocked when the country's top cricketers convened in Mirpur and announced that they would boycott all cricketing activities unless the Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) met their 11-point demand. 

Shakib Al Hasan played the leading role with Tamim Iqbal, Mushfiqur Rahim and Mahmudullah Riyad also among the leading figures behind presenting the demands.

After three days of intense drama -- during which BCB President Nazmul Hassan expressed his deep shock and anger -- the BCB finally agreed to most of the demands, saying that some others were unrealistic given the conditions in Bangladesh.

Shakib's subsequent one-year ban by the ICC for failing to report corrupt approaches by a bookmaker took some of the spotlight off the cricketers' demands. The coronavirus pandemic has also made it difficult for the board to fulfil some of the demands.

But even amid this pandemic, when organising any cricket is a challenge, the lack of players' voices is indicative of the need for reform.

The first demand was that players should get proper respect from the board and the current committee of Cricketers Welfare Association of Bangladesh (CWAB) must immediately resign. The CWAB election is yet to take place this year, but according to its general secretary Debabrata Paul they have asked players to take necessary steps immediately after the strike and the players are yet to decide.

The second demand was that the transfer system of the Dhaka Premier League must revert to the old system so that players can choose a team according to their liking. The BCB accepted the demand immediately. 

The third demand said that the Bangladesh Premier League (BPL) must be arranged based on the previous franchise model and the wages of local players be increased. The BCB staged the last BPL as a celebration of the birth centenary of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. The board also agreed to return to the franchise model for subsequent editions.

Increasing match fees for first-class matches to Tk 1 lakh was the fourth demand, and the BCB announced the increments -- albeit not the demanded amount -- after five days of the demand. Match fees rose from Tk 35,000 to Tk 60,000 in tier one and from Tk 25,000 to Tk 50,000 in tier two. According to the BCB they are planning on increasing match fees further in the coming days.

The fifth demand was ab increase in daily allowance of Tk 1,500, which was later increased to Tk 2,500. Players also wanted plane fares to be provided to travel between venues, which was also approved and the hotel facilities were also upgraded along with gym and swimming pool facilities. The board said they are still working to improve practice facilities across the country. 

The players also wanted the number of contracted cricketers and their salaries increased, which was the sixth demand. While salaries were increased, the board was reluctant to increase the number of contracted players as they wanted competitiveness among cricketers to earn a contract.

The seventh demand was for the increase of salaries of local staff members -- coaches, ground staff, umpires and others, but the BCB said they were trying their best and that the practicalities and limitations of the board should be considered.

The eighth demand was that the number of one-day tournaments in the domestic arena must be increased, but the BCB said it will prioritise tournaments according to their value and timing.

The ninth point was to form a local calendar, which has never been made, and it seems difficult in the current situation. However, the BCB president did announce that the board is willing to start all domestic competitions gradually. 

Timely payment of the dues of the DPL was the 10th demand and the board said it will take a strong stance to maintain it.

The 11th demand was the withdrawal of the restriction that players could play in only two foreign leagues per year. The BCB president said the board will see that on a case-by-case basis.

The cricketers added two more conditions two days after their original press conference -- they wanted a share of the revenues and that equal facilities be provided to women cricketers. BCB dismissed the revenue sharing, saying it was not possible in the Bangladeshi context, and on women cricketers the board said they have been working to improve women's cricket. 

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