Bangladesh cricketers announce strike, tour of India doubtful

Bangladesh tour of India, players boycott, Shakib Al Hasan, Bangladesh Cricket Board, Bangladesh Premier League
Bangladesh which is set to tour India for a three-match T20 series starting on November 3 and two-Test series scheduled from November 14 put the plan under a cloud following the unprecedented stand. Photo: @CricketWorldCup/Twitter

The upcoming Bangladesh tour of India stands doubtful as Test and T20I skipper Shakib Al Hassan announced on Monday (October 21) that the team will not be taking part in any cricketing events if their demands are not met by the country’s board.

In a press conference, Hasan revealed that the players will boycott all tours till their 11-point demands, including a hike in salary, are not met.

The country’s top players including Mahmudullah and Mushfiqur Rahim were present at the press conference. Nearly 50 players are part of the protest.

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A boycott of any cricket activity for the foreseeable future will have an immediate impact on the National Cricket League, currently in progress. The action could also jeopardise the training camp for next month’s tour of India and possibly the tour itself.

Bangladesh which is set to tour India for a three-match T20 series starting on November 3 and two-match Test series scheduled from November 14 put the plan under a cloud following the unprecedented stand.

“We have to respect the local coaches, physios, trainers and groundsman. They get really a little amount of salary at the end of the month,” senior opener Tamim Iqbal said on behalf of the players at the press conference.

The camp was supposed to start this week with the team’s spin consultant Daniel Vettori in attendance.

India responded with a guarded statement, calling Bangladesh’s internal matter. “The BCCI will wait and watch the developments closely. This is an internal matter of the Bangladesh Cricket Board and until and unless we hear from them, there is no need for us to make any comments,” a senior BCCI functionary told PTI.

Also read: Bangladesh sacks domestic coaches for not playing leg-spinners

However, many in the Indian Cricket Board feel that President-elect Sourav Ganguly’s cordial relations with both players and officials in Bangladesh cricket might help in salvaging the situation.

“There is a Test match in Kolkata which will certainly generate a lot of interest among the Bangladesh fans keeping the local connect in mind. A lot of fans are expected to travel from Dhaka and its surrounding towns to watch the match, a first in Kolkata. I believe that they will pay heed to our president’s request if the situation demands,” another BCCI official said.

One of the major points raised by the players was better remuneration for those competing at the first-class level.

“Match fee for the first-class cricket should be increased to one lakh (Bangladesh Taka), which is now 35 thousand only. At the same time, the salary of first-class cricketers also should be increased by 50 percent,” said their most decorated player Shakib.

“A first-class cricketer gets only 1500 taka as the daily allowance. I don’t think this is enough for a cricketer in order to get a healthy lifestyle. At the same time, we are demanding to increase the travel allowance. We will be happy if BCB ensures the air tickets for travelling for the First-class cricketers around the country.”

Sources in the BCB believe that the tour remains on course as Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is committed to attending the second Test at the Eden Gardens from November 22.

In case Bangladesh forfeits, the ICC will award the Test series to India who will get 120 points.

Some of the players main demands are: Bangladesh Premier League (BPL) must go back to franchise model, Dhaka Premier League (their domestic first-class competiton) must go back to open market transfers, central contract salary should be higher, and include more players, higher first-class match fees, players association to no longer have conflict of interest.

“We just came to know about it we will discuss it in the board and try to resolve it as soon as possible,” BCB CEO Nizamudin Chowdhury was quoted as saying by Cricbuzz.

“I don’t think it is anything like revolt. They are yet to tell us anything formally, but we are looking into the matter.”

Mahmudullah said the players had been expressing their “discontent for a long time.” “We get a very low amount as our remuneration from Dhaka league. We used to contact the club in our own way previously. Now, our demand is to go back to the previous model of the Dhaka league,” he said.

Earlier, the Bangladesh Cricket Board suspended the head coaches of two teams for not following the implemented rule of including one leg-spinner in playing eleven of every team in Bangladesh Premier League.

The captain, on Sunday (October 20), said that the new rule will suppress the cricketers.

“For so many years we couldn’t select a leg-spinner for the senior team, but suddenly we made plans to include seven legspinners in the BPL. This decision does come as a bit of a surprise, but I would still state that the board has taken a decision that it thinks is good,” Shakib said in an interview to Bengali daily Samakal.

“I think that leg-spinners should bowl a lot of overs in first-class cricket to gain confidence and consistency. The BPL is an international-standard competitive tournament where you will face scenarios that you are likely to face in international cricket. You share the dressing room with overseas cricketers. It is not the place to make a player,” he added.

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