'We call off the strike and will return to playing' - Shakib Al Hasan
Bangladesh's cricketers, who went on strike on Monday, will return to action after officials from the BCB and the players' association assured them that nearly all their demands would be met. Shakib Al Hasan, the Test and T20I captain who led the cricketers' movement, however, said that the players would only be satisfied when all they had asked for was addressed.
The impasse between the board and the players ended at close to midnight on Wednesday, by which time both parties had been in discussion for nearly two hours.
The players agreed to the meeting after holding discussions among themselves in a hotel, in between holding a press conference where they added two more demands: 1. the BCB must share a percentage of their revenue with them, and 2. it should also ensure equal pay for women cricketers.
There were reports on Wednesday that BCB chief Nazmul Hassan and director Naimur Rahman had met the country's prime minister, Sheikh Hasina, who had summoned Mashrafe Mortaza as well to know more about the situation. It is felt that after her intervention, the BCB backed off from their hardline stance and agreed to compromise.
Hassan said the board had not been made aware of the two new demands until a few hours ago, but that it will fulfill the original 11. Shakib added that the Cricketers Welfare Association of Bangladesh [CWAB] had also agreed to hold fresh elections, where players are expected to vote for the office bearers.
"As Papon bhai [Hassan] said, it was a fruitful discussion," Shakib said. "He and the rest of the directors assured us that our demands will be met as soon as possible. Based on their assurance, we will start playing the NCL [National Cricket League] and attend the training camp [prior to the tour of India].
"We told them that there should be [CWAB] elections swiftly. We want a representative from the current players, so that our problems can be discussed with the board regularly. It will be the best for the players. They have agreed, and the elections will be held when we are all available. We can tell you that we are happy when the demands are implemented, but discussions have been satisfying."
Hassan, who had a completely different tone to his angry press conference on Tuesday, said that the BCB would return to the Dhaka Premier League's player transfers, as well as ensure a franchise model is in place in next season's Bangladesh Premier League, as the players had demanded.
He also said that the board would quickly increase the domestic players' remuneration, but asked for time on improving infrastructure across the country.
"We thank the players for coming today. They had a number of demands, which I told you yesterday we were mostly agreeable to," he said. "Among their 11 demands, the first one [CWAB elections] doesn't have anything to do with the BCB and the last demand [more than two NOCs per year to play overseas franchise tournaments] will be taken case to case.
"We have agreed with the rest of the demands, like the DPL transfers and BPL franchise model. We will also significantly improve their allowances in the domestic competitions, and it will be done in the next two or three days. Not in six months or a year. We will also improve infrastructural facilities everywhere, and no longer take it phase by phase. I also heard from many players, and I have asked them to send them their issues in writing in the future."
Hassan said they had offered to cancel the NCL's third round matches scheduled for October 24, but he was told that wasn't necessary. "We wanted to leave out the NCL's third round but the players said that if it is delayed by a day, they will make it to the venues," Hassan said. "The national players will join the [pre-tour] camp on October 25, as was earlier planned."
Hassan, who had criticised the cricketers on Tuesday for going on strike and was made to wait for four hours before the meeting started on Wednesday, said that even during the discussion, he had started off angry. "I felt that it was a good discussion but I don't think the players liked it, as I was angry at the start, but later the anger went away."
The strike that began on Monday afternoon with the centrally contracted and first-class cricketers, even attracted players from Dhaka's first division league on Wednesday.