The Bangladesh tour of India scheduled next month took an optimistic turn as the newly-elected BCCI president Sourav Ganguly said tour will go ahead as planned as their Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has “given her consent”.
The tour scheduled to start on November 3 was on Monday (October 21) thrown into jeopardy after their national team players refused to participate in any cricketing activity until their demands, including a hike in salary, are met.
“It’s their internal matter. (But) the Bangladesh PM has said she will turn up for the Test in Kolkata. If she has given her consent, I don’t see how the national team won’t,” Ganguly told reporters after taking charge of BCCI.
The squad which had planned to play three T20 Internationals and two Test matches as part of the World Championship boycotted the tour after the country’s national Test and Twenty20 captain Shakib Al Hasan announced an indefinite strike.
Other top players such as Mahmudullah and Mushfiqur Rahim were also present at the press conference in Dhaka where the strike, in which nearly 50 players are participating, was announced.
Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has reportedly appointed ODI captain Mashrafe Mortaza as the mediator to resolve the dispute between the country’s cricket board and its cricketers.
According to a report in ESPNcricinfo, the players are likely to meet with Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) officials later on Wednesday (October 23).
“After the media conference last evening, I spoke to a senior player who told me that they would get back to us at any time after discussing among themselves. We expect to sit with them at 5pm today,” BCB CEO Nizamuddin Chowdhury said in a press briefing at noon.
Samakal, a local daily, quoted BCB Director Mahbubul Anam as saying that Hasina enquired about the crisis with Mortaza, who led the team in the 2019 World Cup.
“She wanted to know the latest about crickets situation,” he said. Then she asked Mashrafe to tell the players to return to the field.”
The protesting cricketers have sought support from Cricket’s global players’ representative group.
The Federation of International Cricketers’ Associations praised the players “for taking a stand together in order to secure fair conditions,” the body’s executive chairman Tony Irish said in a statement late Tuesday (October 22).
“This has happened despite the challenging environment for players to collectivize in Bangladesh and it is a clear indication of the need for change in the way players are treated in what we regard as an important cricket country.”
Some of the players’ main demands are: Bangladesh Premier League (BPL) must go back to franchise model, Dhaka Premier League (their domestic first-class competition) 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.
Their demands include a 50 percent pay hike for first-class players, the expansion of national pay contracts, increased match fees in domestic four-day and 50-over games, and better benefits for grounds staff.
But in his first reaction after the strike, Bangladesh Cricket Board president Nazmul Hassan called it a “conspiracy” unrelated to pay.
“I don’t believe they are doing it for money. There may be some other reasons, part of a plan, a conspiracy to destabilise cricket,” Hassan said Tuesday.
“The basic objective of this strike is to spoil the camp and India tour, some outsiders are working on this,” he added.
According to the report, all indications are that the issue is heading towards a positive outcome.
However, in case Bangladesh forfeits, the ICC will award the Test series to India who will get 120 points.
(With inputs from agencies)