The players decided to read their demands aloud and designated one for each of the demands
The unprecedented gathering of over 50 top players of the country to jointly announce a strike demanding pay-hike along with other issues in domestic cricket shook the whole cricketing fraternity as journalists flocked together for one of the most impactful albeit, impromptu press meet yesterday. Although the presser was supposed to start at 2 pm, it started an hour later.
The players decided to read their demands aloud and designated one for each of the demands.
The first point of the statement was read out by Naeem Islam, the second by Mahmudullah Riyad, third by Mushfiqur Rahim, fourth and fifth by Shakib al Hasan, sixth by Enamul Haque junior, seventh by Tamim Iqbal, eighth by Anamul Haque Bijoy, ninth by Nurul Hasan Sohan, 10th by Junaid Siddique and the final point was read out by Farhad Reza.
Here is the detailed description of 11-point from the players:
1. Monday, we have come in front of you to share our (players) problems that we are facing and our demands. Firstly, we believe players don’t get enough respect that we deserve. We have CWAB (Cricketers’ Welfare Association of Bangladesh), but there is no representative from players in there. We have never received any decision for the sake of players from CWAB. So our first demand is, we want the resignation of president, secretary and CWAB related officials immediately. It is basically a players’ association. So we, all the players, will chose who will be the president or secretary of the CWAB through an election.
2. You all know about the whole situation of Dhaka Premier League in the last few years. Almost every player has expressed their dissatisfaction about the ongoing process in Premier League. The wage scale has been fixed and many limitations have been imposed on players. Few years ago in DPL , players used to conduct the dealings with club officials, choosing their clubs and determining their pay scale. We want this system of Dhaka Premier League where players have the power of choosing clubs and have the authority to negotiate their salary. This is our second demand - we want the previous system back in DPL.
3. We know this edition of BPL is happening in a different way. We respect that. However, our main demand is that, from next year, the previous system of the franchised-based Bangladesh Premier League (BPL) should be installed again. Most importantly in BPL, there should be a balance between our local players’ payment scale in comparison to foreign players. We have always seen that foreign players get higher payment in BPL but in contrast, local players’ payments are very low. We must ensure that local players also get proper remuneration compared to foreign players. Another thing is, if you follow franchise leagues all over the world, you will observe that players can determine their own grades in players’ draft. We believe Bangladesh players should also get the opportunity to choose their grade in players’ draft. If any franchise doesn’t pick any player after choosing their own grade, then that’s their personal matter. But the players should get the opportunity to choose their own grade.
4. Our fourth point is about the match fees in our first-class cricket matches. We all believe it should be Tk1 lakh. We are definitely raising this issue. The salary of first-class players is very low, that should be increased by at least 50 per cent. Practice facilities should be improved including gymnasiums, indoor, proper fields etc. Throughout the year, there should be an appointed coach, physio, and trainer for the players. These coaches, physios and trainers will help the first-class players all year-long and monitor them so that players can follow the provided plans and improve their performance. We understand that, all these things about this point can’t be ensured within just one or two days. But we want to make sure that these things are ensured before the next season starts. We want to ensure all these facilities in each and every division. We don’t want these facilities only in Dhaka or at this academy ground. For example, Barisal team will practice in Barisal division, in their home venue or Khulna will practice in their home venue or Sylhet will practice in their home ground. Only then will our cricket expand and can develop further.
5. There are more issues about first-class cricket that need to be addressed if we really want to improve our cricket or culture in Test cricket. First of all, the match ball- usually in first-class cricket. The match ball quality is not that good and often, players struggle with this. When we play international cricket, we have to play with different balls of improved quality and thus, we need to adjust in almost every time. We don’t want to face such problems anymore. Another thing is, the daily allowance for a first class player is only Tk1,500. We don’t think players can maintain the fitness level (demanded by the BCB at the moment) with a proper diet with this amount. Players need to maintain a healthy diet chart to ensure proper fitness level and also should stay at a standard hotel while playing in first-class tournaments. Considering better food and hotel, the daily allowance should have been increased properly. Another issue is that of the travel allowance which is Tk2,500 only. Consider a situation when players have to travel from Rajshahi to Cox’s Bazar. In that case, is there any other way apart from bus for players who need to travel such a long distance? Therefore, it should be ensured that players can get plane fares. No allowance is needed; just make sure that a player gets a plane ticket. And the tickets can be provided by divisions - we have no complains on that. We just want to ensure that players can travel by air in first-class matches. Lastly, about the hotels where players stay during first-class matches. The hotel must have facilities like a gymnasium and swimming pool. Every player does a lot of hard work during each day of play in a four-day game. Players need a gymnasium or a place where they can recover after day’s play. It is difficult for players to stay at a one star or two star hotel where they can only sleep at night. And then coming to the point of bus, by which players come to the ground. If you look at the quality of the bus on which players come and go during a match, you will be surprised - it’s very frustrating for us. We demand AC buses while journeying during a match or at least provide a better mode of transport on which players can travel comfortably.
Shakib al Hasan
6. The number of players on the contract list for national players should be increased. We think the number of contracted players is much less compared to other cricketing nations. We want 30 players on the central contract list for national team and we also demand pay rise for contracted players. We have heard that there is no pay rise for the contracted players for last three years. Therefore, the number of players under BCB’s central contract list and their salaries should be increased.
Enamul Haque Jr
7. Earlier, we mentioned about getting respect, and that respect is not only for cricketers or, these demands are not solely for players. You also have to look after other people related to cricket. For example, the groundsmen, how much salary are they earning each month working for the BCB? You all are journalists here, you may know that a groundsman may get taka five or six thousands per month after toiling hard all day long. Let’s talk about local coaches. We never appreciate or promote them. The amount of salary a foreign coach earns, that is almost equal to the sum of 20 local coaches’ earnings. Recently an incident happened, one coach has performed well in an international series, but in the next series, he is out. We don’t want to mention any particular name, but this is happening with our local coaches. The same is happening with the local umpires as well. We, players or journalists, always complain about umpires. But are we providing proper job security to an umpire who choose umpiring as a profession? We all know what meager salary they are getting. It is the same for physios and trainers as well. Our point is, this is the right time to give priority and promote our local coaches, physios, trainers, umpires and people related to cricket over anyone else.
8. We are playing two tournaments in domestic - BCL and NCL. But in the one-day version, we only play one tournament, DPL. We believe we need another fifty-over format tournament. Five years ago, there was an ODI tournament in NCL. We used to play four-day match, and then one-day match. We want fifty overs tournament in NCL just like before so that we can get more opportunities. And we play only one T20 league in a year, the BPL. We need another T20 tournament just before BPL so that players can perform better in the BPL.
Anamul Haque Bijoy
9. We want a fixed calendar for domestic tournaments so that players can take preparation on time.
Nurul Hasan Sohan
10. The unpaid payment of BPL and Dhaka Premier League should be paid on time. For example, Brothers Union players did not get their remaining 40 per cent payment for the last years DPL. We have informed BCB, CWAB several times but it still remains unpaid. As national players we don’t deserve it, in fact, no player deserves such treatment. We demand that all the payments will be paid in time within the specific time limit.
11. There is a restriction for players regarding participating in only two franchise-based cricket tournaments around the world. We want to remove this restriction. If players have no national team duties and are free to play, then they should be allowed to play different tournaments so that they can learn more.
As we are focusing on domestic cricket more, we all know about the quality in our first division, second division and third division cricket. At times, we even know before a game about which team will win or lose.
It’s really frustrating and shocking for us. We believe it should be fixed immediately. A player’s career is on the stake in this situation. A batsman can get out on a good delivery, but imagine a situation when a good player has been given out by a wrong decision intentionally over and over again. A player’s career can be ruined this way and it can be very frustrating for young players. If we really want to develop our young players, then these things should be fixed and it’s essential for us for the future of our cricket.
We were not able to include our women players in our cause as we have taken this decision quickly. We are sure they also have some fair demands. If they want to join with us, they are most welcome and we will raise their fair demands in future as well.
As the U19 team is taking preparation for the upcoming World Cup, they are not being included in our strike. Age-level teams like U15 or U17 are out of this as well. Apart from them, all first-class or national team players are included in this. Our strike started from this day and it relates to our National Cricket League, national cricket team preparation or taking part in international matches as well. We know all the players are with us. We have raised our issues and until or unless these demands are fulfilled, we are not willing to take part in any cricket-related activities. When these issues will be resolved, we will resume our regular activities as players. We want to improve our cricket. We want to create a good culture and environment in the cricketing arena for future players so that Bangladesh cricket can progress further in the future.