Bangladeshi cricketers go on first-ever strike

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Sports desk, October 21: Bangladesh’s top cricketers on Monday announced that they will abstain from all cricket-related activities until their 11-point demand, including a salary hike, is met by the Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB).The national cricketers made the announcement at a press conference at the National Cricket Academy Ground in Mirpur.

The demands include immediate resignation of the president and secretary of Cricket Welfare Association of Bangladesh (CWAB), returning to the previous model of Dhaka League, and the BPL from the next year, increasing the match fee in the first-class cricket to 1 lakh from present Tk 35,000, hiking the salaries of the national cricketers, local coaches, physios, trainers and groundsmen, arranging more domestic cricket events, fixing stable domestic calendar, clearing cricketers’ dues for the Dhaka League and ensuring cricketers’ opportunities to play more foreign leagues.

All-rounder Naeem Islam who placed the first demand said, “We don’t get the respect that we deserve. At the same time, the Cricket Welfare Association of Bangladesh (CWAB) is not working in our favour. So, our first demand is the immediate resignation of the president and secretary of CWAB. After their resignation, we, the cricketers, will select who will take the charge of CWAB.”

Mahmudullah Riyad came up with the second demand, saying, “You know the current situation in the Dhaka Premier League. We have been expressing our discontent for a long time. We get a very low amount as our remuneration from the league. We used to contact clubs in our own way previously. Now, our second demand is to go back to the previous model of the Dhaka League.”

Mushfiqur Rahim, the former national captain, announced the 3rd demand. “Our 3rd demand is related to the Bangladesh Premier League which is scheduled in a new model this year. We respect the model that the BCB has taken. But we want to go back to the previous model of BPL from the next year,” he said.

“At the same time, we’re demanding a balanced remuneration for the local players comparing with the foreign ones. If you look at the other foreign leagues, cricketers can decide their own grade in the draft. We also want this in BPL,” Mushfiqur said.

Placing the 4th demand, the Bangladesh Test and T20I Captain Shakib Al Hasan said, “The match fee for the first-class cricket should be increased to 1 lakh from present Tk 35,000. At the same time, the salary of first-class cricketers should be increased by 50 percent.”

“A first-class cricketer gets only Tk 1,500 as daily allowance. We think this amount is not enough for a cricketer to lead a healthy lifestyle. At the same time, we’re demanding an increase in our travel allowances. We’ll be happy if the BCB ensures the air tickets for travelling for the first-class cricketers across the country.”

Enamul Haque Jnr, the hero of Bangladesh’s first Test win, came up with the 6th demand, saying, “The BCB should increase the number of cricketers under the national central contract. If you look at the world cricket arena, there’re more players under the central contract. At the same time, the salary of the national cricketers should be increased, which is stuck at the same amount for three years.”

Tamim Iqbal, the national opener, announced the 7th demand. “We have to respect the local coaches, physios, trainers and groundsmen. They get a little amount of salary at the end of the month.”

The eighth demand is about increasing domestic cricket events. Anamul Haque Bijoy unveiled the demand, saying, “We play only a 50-over event – the Dhaka League. At the same time, we play a 20-over event – BPL. We’re now demanding more domestic events. If we get a chance to play a T20 event ahead of every BPL and a 50-over league in NCL, it’ll help us grow as a more powerful cricket team.”

Nurul Hasan Shohan, the wicketkeeper-batsman, came up with 9th demand. “We need to have a fixed domestic calendar so that we can prepare ourselves accordingly.”

Junaid Siddique, the former national opener, announced the 10th demand while Farhad Reza, the all-rounder, the 11th one on behalf of the cricketers.

Bangladesh Test captain Shakib said the women team and age-level cricketers can also join the strike if they want.

National cricketers Taskin Ahmed, Elias Sunny, Mehidy Hasan Miraz, Ziaur Rahman, Rubel Hossain, Nadif Chowdhury, Nazmul Islam Apu, Taijul Islam, Arafat Sunny, Imrul Kayes, Mohammad Saifuddin, Soumya Sarkar, Shahadat Hossain and Shuvagata Hom were also present at the press conference.

Asked about the cricketers’ stance, BCB Chief Executive Officer Nizam Uddin Chowdhury said, “We’re yet to know about the demands of the cricketers. We’ll discuss the matter with the board as soon as we come to know about those properly.”