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Cricket news - One year since players' strike in Bangladesh: Where things stand
The relationship between the players and BCB is more professional than personal now.
It's been a year since national and first-class cricketers in Bangladesh went on a strike with a set of demands from the Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB). BCB then worked to reach a consensus with the cricketers, allowing Bangladesh's important tour of India to go ahead, but the board has changed its position from time to time ever since.
Cricbuzz spoke to BCB officials, cricketers and different stakeholders to assess where things stand a year on from the strike.
Demand: Cricketers need to be given proper respect, and the current president and secretary of the Cricketers Welfare Association of Bangladesh (CWAB) must resign with immediate effect, after which the Bangladesh players will select who takes over the association.
Where it stands after one year: While BCB claims that they have always given respect to the cricketers and it remained at the top of their priority list. BCB insiders reveal that the board didn't take the players' strike as a one-off incident as it was an embarrassment in front of the whole world. The players, in turn, are aware that none of their mistakes will be taken lightly unlike the past, and they will have to pay dearly if they want to raise their voice against the board. The relationship is more professional than personal now.
As far as removing the CWAB president is concerned, there is hardly any development in this regard considering the players failed to follow up after CWAB officials tried to contact them several times around devising a plan of action for elections.
Demand: Dhaka Premier League, the domestic tournament in Bangladesh, should not have a salary cap and every player should have the freedom to choose their own clubs and determine their own price.
Where it stands after one year: BCB met this demand within 72 hours after the strike was called off but whether it really helped the majority of the cricketers still remains a mystery. As it turned out, only the top-tier cricketers' prices went up substantially while the middle and lower tier cricketers remained at a relative disadvantage.
Seasoned club organizers feel that the demand helped the clubs more than the cricketers as the middle and lower tier cricketers had to lower their price after seeing that there are not many interested clubs willing to buy them. The clubs instead are more inclined towards getting one or two top cricketers and filling the rest of the squad with cricketers from the age-group system.
In fact, the middle and lower tier cricketers seem to be regretting the demand as BCB now don't want to interfere in a player's payment issue. In the past, when players by choice system was in place, the board cleared the dues if clubs failed to do so.
As DPL got postponed after one game, several clubs are yet to pay the cricketers and even if it resumes in January, how they will be paid and in what proportion is not clear to many. They feel the clubs will certainly bring up the corona pandemic to lower their price or pay on a pro-rata basis.
Demand: BPL should be conducted in franchise-style, like it was before, instead of the revised BBL-type format and the local players should be paid on par with the foreign players.
Where it stands after one year: BCB cancelled this edition of BPL and it is unlikely to take place in the coming days as the board is planning to host a domestic T20 tournament that is part of their resumption plan following the corona pandemic. Last year, the board hosted BPL on their own after having a fall-out with the franchises and until today they are yet to sit with the franchises and make a plan of action to resume franchise-based BPL.
BCB and franchises, primarily, need to settle down the revenue sharing model. As far as the demand of local cricketers being paid on par with foreign cricketers is concerned, it seems that the franchises still don't have the same faith in their local stars in the shortest format. In the new normal life resumption of franchise-based BPL will be a tough ask and even if that happens whether the payment will be as high as it was before is a big question, apart from one or two franchises whether others will have the financial strength to spend such an amount or will be willing despite not sure of having any profit in return remains the biggest question at the moment.
Demand: Better remuneration at the first-class level. Match fee for first-class cricket should be increased to one lakh (BDT), which is now 35 thousand only. At the same time, the salary of first-class cricketers also should be increased by 50 per cent. The accommodation, traveling, catering and other facilities that includes gym and training facilities in divisional headquarters also need to be improved.
Where it stands after one year: BCB increased the players' pay in NCL to Tk 60,000 from Tk 35,000 for first-tier matches and to Tk 50,000 from Tk 25,000 in second-tier matches. BCB upgraded travel arrangements in first-class cricket as they are now using flights instead of buses and where there is no scope for air travelling they are given AC buses. The daily allowance increased from TK 1500 to 2500 while travel allowance was increased to TK 3500 to TK 2500. The additional accommodation allowance was increased by 60 per cent and catering allowance was increased by 75 per cent. BCB have not increased the salary of the first-class cricketers despite agreeing to the demands that it be raised by 50 per cent.
BCB officials insisted that they are planning to raise it but did not guarantee that it will be raised up to fifty percent. The facilities are yet to improve at the divisional headquarters and according to BCB, improvements are not possible overnight. What remains to be seen is whether they will come up with any plan of action regarding upgrading the facilities in different divisions or keep cricket as a Dhaka-based sport.
Demand: Attitude towards domestic coaches, umpires and groundsmen need to change and at the same time they need to be properly remunerated.
Where it stands after one year: Now for officiating in an NCL match, an umpire receives Tk 35,000 which was earlier Tk 20,000. Daily allowance also increased to Tk 2,500 from Tk 1,500 while travel allowance is matched with airfare. But BCB failed to make substantial pay raises for groundsmen and coaches and according to board officials, this could not be implemented due to COVID-19. BCB, off the record, agrees that the remuneration should be increased but says that it can't be by too much, considering the position on the socio-economic ladder Bangladesh finds itself at.
Demand: An increase in the number of players in the central contract list to 30 and an increase in salaries
Where it stands after one year: BCB decided to raise the salary of the nationally contracted cricketers and also introduced white-ball and red-ball contracts along with cross-format contracts. But they have pruned down the list from 17 cricketers to 16. BCB feels that a national contract is a prestigious thing and it should be awarded with restraint.
Demand: To have more domestic cricket tournaments, besides the one 50-over event - the Dhaka Premier League - and the T20 tournament - the Bangladesh Premier League. The players have also called for a calendar for domestic cricket so they can prepare better.
Where it stands after one year: BCB is not ready to host any extra List A tournament or another T20 tournament on a regular basis as they don't feel it will be fruitful considering their domestic and international calendar. They are yet to make any plans regarding implementing a long-term domestic calendar and that is largely because the club officials cum board directors also happen to be involved with different franchises and they first give priority to DPL and later BPL, leaving first-class cricket at the bottom of their priority list. Usually the season is expected to kick off with the National Cricket League, traditional first-class competition, but their dates keep getting compromised by the pressure from the clubs.
Demand: Uniformity in timing of payments made to the players for BPL and DPL
Where it stands after one year: BCB recently announced that the board will not negotiate with the clubs for the players' payment, which puts the players in a vulnerable position and, as a result, the players feel that the board is not taking any liability.
Demand: Players should be allowed to play more than two overseas franchise-based leagues
Where it stands after one year: BCB's decision of not letting any cricketers being part of the auction in the Lanka Premier League clearly suggests that board is not going to bow down to this demand from the players.
Demand: Revenue sharing with the board
Where it stands after one year: BCB is not willing to share revenues and feels that it is not appropriate for Bangladesh cricket, citing that the cricketers need to perform like Australia before making such demands.
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