BCB calls emergency meeting of directors; Mashrafe Mortaza backs players

ESPN Cricinfo

ESPN Cricinfo

Author 2019-10-22 13:31:28

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The BCB has called an emergency meeting of its directors on Tuesday in response to the players' strike. They have less than 48 hours to convince the players to play the next round of the first-class National Cricket League matches in four venues across the country, and just a little more time to convince them to start training in a prep camp for the tour of India. The India tour begins on November 3.

The cricketers put out an 11-point demand on Monday, which they said must be fulfilled before they will take part in any on-field activities. A majority of those demands are financial commitments that the board has to make publicly. Apart from the call to bring back Dhaka Premier League's players transfer in the 2019-20 season, even the players understand that the rest of the points can only come into effect from next year.

Mashrafe backs the players

In a Facebook post, Bangladesh's ODI captain Mashrafe Mortaza has expressed solidarity with the cricketers, but said he wasn't made aware of their plan.

"I have been asked several times why I wasn't present with the cricketers," Mashrafe wrote on his official Facebook page. "I think it is best to ask the players. I wasn't aware of this movement. Definitely this was in discussion, and they were making preparations. The first I heard about their strike was when I saw their press conference.

"I have always been with cricketers and if I had known about their plan, I would have been with them. I have questioned myself why I wasn't made aware. But it is more important that their 11-point demands are met. All of their demands are fair, and necessary for the betterment of cricket and cricketers. I, Mashrafe Mortaza, am in favour of a peaceful implementation of their 11-point demand."

So far, there are mixed reactions from within the BCB, with some directors accusing the cricketers of "blackmailing" the board, while others have said that they understand the players' stance in these difficult circumstances.

Director Jalal Yunus said that instead of going to the media, the players should have gone to the board with their demands. "We had no idea that the cricketers were so angry, disappointed and upset," Yunus told Bengali daily Samakal. "They could have placed the demands at the board before issuing the ultimatum. However, they went to the media to call off all cricketing activities. This is nothing but blackmailing."

Speaking to the same newspaper, Mahbubul Anam, another influential board director, accused the cricketers of being part of a "wider conspiracy". "They can have demands but before going to the media, they should have come to the BCB," Anam said. "The board president is always in touch with these cricketers.

"They could have followed the process of going through the CEO, cricket operations chairman and board chief, and if their demands weren't met, then they could have gone for action. I believe something else is behind the cricketers' call for the strike. It is a conspiracy against BCB."

But Akram Khan, the former Bangladesh captain and now a board director in charge of cricket operations, had a conciliatory tone: "These things always start with a movement. Once you sit with the board, it is no longer a movement. The board is there to serve the cricketers' purpose. I hope there will be reconciliation between the players and the board. We will try to solve their issues in the board meeting [on Tuesday]."

ALSO READ: What do the Bangladesh players want?

Veteran board director Ahmed Sajjadul Alam said that he feels most of the demands are "reasonable", and they can be met after discussion with the players.

The cricketers have also generally received support from outside the cricket board, including some former cricketers. One of them, Salim Shahed, said that he was impressed by how the cricketers didn't bring only their own issues into focus.

"They didn't just talk about themselves," Shahed told the Bengali daily Kaler Kantho. "They wanted improvement in salaries for groundsmen, coaches, trainers, physios. They spoke about infrastructural improvement. They also didn't drag the age-group cricketers in to their strike. They are only looking to ensure a better future for them."

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