In a stinging retort to the BCB’s new rule that legspinners must bowl four overs in every innings of the Bangladesh Premier League, Shakib Al Hasan has said that the T20 league cannot be expected to “make” players. He also drew attention to the poor pay structure and training facilities in the country’s domestic set-up.
Of late the BCB has been stressing on the importance of legspin, so much so that it even fired two National Cricket League (NCL) coaches last week for not selecting legspinners in their respective first-class teams.
“I think that legspinners should bowl a lot of overs in first-class cricket to gain confidence and consistency,” Shakib told the Bengali daily Samakal. “The BPL is an international-standard competitive tournament where you will face scenarios that you are likely to face in international cricket. You share the dressing room with overseas cricketers. It is not the place to make a player.
“Chittagong, Rajshahi, Khulna and Sylhet should have a proper gym, running and indoor facilities. You cannot bat for more than 15 minutes in the Mirpur indoor facilities, it gets so hot.”
Shakib Al Hasan
“For so many years we couldn’t select a legspinner for the senior team, but suddenly we made plans to include seven legspinners in the BPL. This decision does come as a bit of a surprise, but I would still state that the board has taken a decision that it thinks is good.”
ESPNcricinfo understands that the order about including a the legspinner – and a 140kph quick bowler – in BPL XIs had come from the Bangladesh team management. At the time of announcing the rule, Bangladesh Cricket Board director Mahbubul Anam had said: “BCB wants this BPL to be about improving Bangladesh’s cricketers in T20s, so we want to make sure that our batsmen and bowlers get enough opportunities [against quicks and legspinners].”
Shakib also criticised the lack of increments in the salary of domestic cricketers, calling for better communication between players and “decision-makers”. He also expressed dissatisfaction about the fact that the BPL is no longer a franchise-run event, which means player payments are expected to be lower than before. The cash-rich Dhaka Premier League (DPL), which for four decades had operated with players transferred from club to club in an open market, also now has heavy caps and a draft in place to help clubs cut player payments.
“[First-class match fees] is very unacceptable,” Shakib said. “It is a very small amount for a cricketer to maintain the minimum standard of living in Bangladesh. Things are getting costlier. Government officers get increments every year, but we see that it is same for us every time. It even gets reduced. BPL and DPL are big examples of this.
“I always get a feeling that cricketers in our country are being suppressed. This is not right. Everyone should have equal opportunity. A player should be left to earn what he feels he deserves. If the team doesn’t want to take the player at that payment, the player will deal with it. But to stop him from [freely naming his price] is not right.
“If the decision-makers don’t think that they need to sit with us, then we don’t have much to do. I think that discussion with players or a group of players will help cricket’s development. But I am glad that they are focused on cricket development. Like, the concern shown towards fitness, although they could have announced it earlier. Papon bhai (Nazmul Hassan, the BCB president) did say that fitness tests will become tougher but they will announce it earlier.”
Shakib also drew attention to the indoor facilities in Mirpur, where batsmen struggle while training during the summer months due to the lack of air-conditioning.
“Only focusing on the national team shouldn’t be the main job of the organisers. Places like Chittagong, Rajshahi, Khulna and Sylhet should have a proper gym, running and indoor facilities. You cannot bat for more than 15 minutes in the Mirpur indoor facilities, because it gets so hot. They haven’t installed ACs even after being told for ten years.
“It is quite disappointing, especially when we see indoors in other countries that have clear lighting and ACs.”