Players call off strike
The impasse between the Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) and top cricketers was resolved when the BCB agreed to nine of the original 11 demands during a meeting between the two parties in Mirpur late last night.
With the conflict resolved, the national cricketers will start the training camp for next month’s tour of India from tomorrow. The fitness and conditioning portion of the camp for the tour was supposed to be held yesterday and today but the cricketers, still on strike, did not show up to the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium. There will also be a delay to the third round of the National Cricket League (NCL), which was supposed to get underway today at four venues across the country but will instead start from Saturday.
The two demands not met were the first one asking for the resignation of the Cricketers Association of Bangladesh (CWAB) committee and the demand to allow players more than two No-Objection-Certificates (NOCs) to play in foreign leagues. The first was denied because according to BCB President Nazmul Hassan “there is nothing the BCB can do about it” as CWAB is supposed to be separate from the board. He said the NOCs would be dealt with on a case-by-case basis.
The players, during a press conference earlier yesterday evening when a spokesperson spoke on their behalf, had added two more demands to the list. They were a revenue sharing model through which the cricketers would get a negotiated amount of the board’s revenue and that similar provisions to the 13-point demand be made for women cricketers where “commercially and practically feasible” with the aim of “attaining gender parity as early as possible”.
The players had originally put forward an 11-point demand on Monday, saying that they would boycott all cricket-related activities if they were not met. That led to a heated press briefing by Hassan on Tuesday, and tempers had apparently not cooled down when yesterday’s meeting started.
“I was angry at first and scolded them,” Hassan said after the meeting. It was learnt that Hassan had focused his anger on Mehedi Hasan Miraz when the players had come in.
“We thank them for coming. They had some demands and I let you know yesterday [Tuesday] that most of them were agreeable and that they would be done if they came to us, and that happened today,” Hassan said. “Of the 11 demands, there is nothing the BCB can do about the first one [demand for more respect from the Cricketers’ Welfare Association of Bangladesh and resignation of its committee] and the last one [permission to play in more than two foreign leagues per year]. We said the last one would be on a case-to-case basis because not many players get the chance to play in more than two leagues. We are not saying anything solid because we have a certain line of thinking behind that.
“I think it is a very good resolution. The players may not think that because of my anger the previous few days.”
A major notch for the players was that the BCB agreed to revert to the players’ draft system in the Dhaka Premier League, the clubs of which had been recruiting players in the player-by-choice system that imposed salary caps and divided the players into grades. The players’ draft, which was the method employed before 2013, allowed players greater freedom to choose clubs and negotiate their salaries.
“Most of our demands were heard by everyone here, including the president, and they agreed to meet them as soon as possible. With that hope, first-class players will start playing [in the NCL] from Saturday and the national team players will start camp from the 25th,” Test and T20I captain Shakib Al Hasan, one of the major forces in the players’ movement, said after Hassan finished speaking.
Asked about the number one item on their list of demands, the demand for the CWAB committee to step down, Shakib said: “We spoke about that. We do not know the names of the rules or regulations even but we asked to hold the elections as soon as possible. We asked that the players have a representative to hear the issues of the players. We will do that when we have time, maybe after the NCL.”
Earlier, Hassan and CWAB president Naimur Rahman had visited Gono Bhaban to meet with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in the afternoon and the premier, according to Hassan, urged the cricketers to return to action immediately.
“The prime minister asked why the players had boycotted and said that they should return to cricket as soon as possible,” Hassan told The Daily Star last night while waiting for the cricketers to come and meet him in Mirpur. “She said that they could have easily come to me or [Naimur Rahman] Durjoy with their demands, or they could even have gone to her.”