Dhaka/Kolkata: Bangladesh's upcoming tour of India was on Monday thrown into jeopardy after their national team players refused to participate in any cricketing activity until their demands, including a hike in salary, are met.
The boycott plan was announced by the country's top players such as Test and T20 captain Shakib Al Hasan, Mahmudullah and Mushfiqur Rahim at a press conference in Dhaka. Nearly 50 players are part of the protest.
A boycott of any cricket activity for the foreseeable future will have an immediate impact on the National Cricket League, currently in progress. The action could also jeopardise the training camp for next month's tour of India and possibly the tour itself.
During the tour starting November 3, Bangladesh are scheduled to play three T20 Internationals and two Test matches as part of the World Championship.
"We have to respect the local coaches, physios, trainers and groundsman. They get really a little amount of salary at the end of the month," senior opener Tamim Iqbal said on behalf of the players at the press conference.
The camp was supposed to start this week with the team's spin consultant Daniel Vettori in attendance.
India responded with a guarded statement, calling Bangladesh's internal matter.
"The BCCI will wait and watch the developments closely. This is an internal matter of the Bangladesh Cricket Board and until and unless we hear from them, there is no need for us to make any comments," a senior BCCI functionary told PTI.
Later, BCCI president-elect Sourav Ganguly said in Kolkata that he was confident that Bangladesh will not call-off the series.
"It is the internal matter of BCB but it's not under my purview," Ganguly told reporters in Kolkata.
However, many in the Indian Cricket Board feel that Ganguly's cordial relations with both players and officials in Bangladesh cricket might help in salvaging the situation.
"There is a Test match in Kolkata, which will certainly generate a lot of interest among the Bangladesh fans keeping the local connect in mind. A lot of fans are expected to travel from Dhaka and it's surrounding towns to watch the match, a first in Kolkata. I believe that they will pay heed to our president's request if the situation demands," another BCCI official said.
One of the major points raised by the players was better remuneration for those competing at the first-class level.
"Match fee for the first-class cricket should be increased to one lakh (Bangladesh Taka), which is now 35 thousand only. At the same time, the salary of first-class cricketers also should be increased by 50 per cent," said their most decorated player Shakib.
"A first-class cricketer gets only 1500 taka as the daily allowance. I don't think this is enough for a cricketer in order to get a healthy lifestyle. At the same time, we are demanding to increase the travel allowance. We will be happy if BCB ensures the air tickets for travelling for the First-class cricketers around the country."
Sources in the BCB believe that the tour is remains on course as Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is committed to attending the second Test at the Eden Gardens from November 22.
In case Bangladesh forfeits, the ICC will award the Test series to India who will get 120 points.
Some of the players' main demands are: Bangladesh Premier League (BPL) must go back to franchise model, Dhaka Premier League (their domestic first-class competition) must go back to open market transfers, central contract salary should be higher, and include more players, higher first class match fees, players association to no longer have conflict of interest.
"We just came to know about it we will discuss it in the board and try to resolve it as soon as possible," BCB CEO Nizamudin Chowdhury was quoted as saying by 'Cricbuzz'.
"I don't think it is anything like revolt. They are yet to tell us anything formally, but we are looking into the matter."
Mahmudullah said the players had been expressing their "discontent for a long time."
"We get a very low amount as our remuneration from Dhaka league. We used to contact the club in our own way previously. Now, our demand is to go back to the previous model of the Dhaka league," he said.