Bangladesh Cricket Board calls players' strike a 'conspiracy'

Bangladesh Test and T20 captain Shakib Al Hasan (centre) announces strike action at a news conference on Monday
Bangladesh Test and T20 captain Shakib Al Hasan (centre) announced the strike at a news conference on Monday

The Bangladesh Cricket Board has accused players of a "conspiracy" to destabilise cricket in the country by going on strike.

Leading players, including Test captain Shakib Al Hasan, announced on Monday they will not take part in any cricket activity until 11 demands are met.

They are calling for better pay, improved facilities and changes to domestic one-day tournaments.

The BCB criticised the players after an emergency directors meeting on Tuesday.

"If they don't want to play, they won't," said BCB president Nazmul Hassan.

"What will you gain if you don't play? I don't understand why you have to stop playing for the demands."

Bangladesh's two-match Test tour of India in November is under threat if the dispute cannot be solved in time.

The strike action also includes the ongoing National Cricket League first-class tournament, with the next round of matches due to start on Thursday.

"When the demands are met, normal service will resume," said star all-rounder Shakib, who is also Bangladesh Twenty20 captain.

"All of us want cricket to improve. Some of us will play for another 10 years, some for four-five years, but we want to create a good environment for the players who will come after us, so Bangladesh cricket can move forward."

Hassan said "the doors are open" for discussions between the players and the board but claimed that players were not responding.

"This is shocking - I can't even imagine that our players can do something like this," added Hassan.

"We'll find who is behind this conspiracy."

The players are demanding the salaries in first-class cricket are raised to 100,000 Bangladeshi Taka (£912) per match - an increase of about 300%.

They also want the BCB to increase the salaries of groundsmen, local coaches, umpires, physios and trainers as well as investing more money to improve grounds, indoor nets, gyms and equipment throughout the country.

The demands include several proposed changes to domestic competitions, with the players wanting the Twenty20 Bangladesh Premier League (BPL) to return to a franchise-based model and the 50-over Dhaka Premier League (DPL) to allow players to choose their team and negotiate salaries again.

The group also want the leadership of the Cricketers' Welfare Association to step down, with players permitted to vote to elect the next committee.

The international players' union Fica released a statement on Tuesday in support of the striking players.

"Fica commends the players in Bangladesh for their unity and for taking a stand together in order to secure fair conditions applicable to them as professional cricketers," said executive chairman Tony Irish.

"This has happened despite the challenging environment for players to collectivise 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."

Shakib also raised the issue of corruption at lower levels of cricket in the country.

The BPL was suspended in 2014 after an investigation into match-fixing in the tournament, which led to administrators and players, including former Bangladesh captain Mohammad Ashraful, being banned.

"The players sometimes get to know about the result of the match even before stepping onto the field," he said.

"This is really disappointing and needs to be fixed because it concerns the career of a player."

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