Indian bowlers were tumbling wickets after wickets on Day 3 of the third Test against South Africa. The Proteas lost 16 wickets by the end of the day and the official broadcaster for India's home season thought this was the right time to begin promoting Virat Kohli and Co's next home assignment - Bangladesh's tour of India - as the last Test versus South Africa was nearing its end. However, around the same time, news broke that Bangladesh cricketers have come out in protest against their cricket board over payment issues.
Shakib Al Hasan, arguably Bangladesh's greatest player and captain of their Test and T20I teams, was in front of the local media along with other national cricketers, asking for better pay and benefits, not just for players but coaches and ground staff as well.
The timing of the protest has put further pressure on Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) as its cricket team is expected to play three T20Is and two Tests in India in November. With this tussle playing out, the tour faces a huge threat, which may eventually lead to bigger financial losses to BCB.
As per AFP, Bangladesh players have demanded a 50 percent pay hike for first-class players, expansion of national pay contracts, increased match fees in domestic four-day and 50-over games, and better benefits for groundskeepers.
The feuds between board and players is not new in international cricket. There have been many instances where players have either refused to play for the national team or cut short a tour due to payment issues. The general argument across all these pay disputes is that cricketers who bring the money to the board demand that they be the major stakeholders.
Let's recount some of the major players vs cricket boards episodes in recent times.
West Indies Cricket Board vs Players
West Indies cricket has taken a serious hit amid pay disputes between players and cricket board/players association. The issue used to resurface every now and then since 2005 when the West Indies Cricket Board was facing financial issues and had to rework a new contract for the players. But it caught the big fire in 2014 when Dwayne Bravo-led West Indies side pulled out of the India tour in 2014 as the captain accused West Indies Players Association chief Wavell Hinds that he had "hoodwinked" them by signing the new memorandum of understanding (MoU). As per the MoU, the players were to receive massive pay cuts. Eventually, Bravo was stripped off the captaincy and has since played very few matches. It began the era of star Windies players opting to freelance their cricketing talent to cricket leagues as against playing for the national side. Chris Gayle, Darren Sammy, Kieron Pollard, Bravo were some of the biggest names who took on the board over the payment issues. WICB had stated that players either sign the contract or be ready to be replaced.
Before the World T20 in India, the West Indies players took a pay cut to play in the tournament as captain Sammy wanted to win the trophy for the fans. West Indies went on to win the cup and it led to Sammy's outburst when he said that the team was disrespected by the national board. Sammy eventually was sacked as T20I captain despite the T20 World Cup win.
Sri Lanka Cricket vs players
Another feud between national cricket board and its players emerged in 2013 when 23 centrally contracted Sri Lankan players refused to tour Bangladesh over a pay dispute. The players included the likes of Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara. The players were asking for increased share in the total revenues of the Sri Lankan Cricket Board and refused to sign the contract before the deadline. "The players are demanding 75% of the total revenue and if that is to be paid Sri Lanka Cricket will have to obtain a loan of 600 million rupees," sports minister Mahindananda Aluthgamage was quoted as saying by BBC. With sports minister's intervention, 20 out of 23 players agreed to sign the contract and the tour to Bangladesh went on smoothly
A year later, the board vs players battle reemerged as players demanded 20 percent of the participation fees. A committee was designed which sat with then chief selector Sanath Jayasuriya and captain Angelo Mathews to settle the matter. The players agreed to accept 10 percent of the participation fees from ICC and Asian Cricket Council (ACC) events.
In 2016, another incident of players refusing to sign the central contracts emerged, with as many as 17 players including Mathews, Rangana Herath expressing disappointment with the national contracts. But that was also sorted out after several meetings with the players and the SLC chief Thilanga Sumathipala.
Cricket Australia vs players
The most recent feud is the one between Cricket Australia (CA) and Australian Cricketers' Association (ACA). In late 2016, CA pitched a new revenue-sharing model, scrapping the earlier one which gave players fixed share. The new revenue model was aimed at investing more on grassroots cricket. ACA, on the other hand, insisted that the 20-year old model was kept in place so that players continue to benefit and remain partners with CA and not mere employees.
The standoff went on for some months and reached a stage when the players, led by then captain Steve Smith and David Warner, warned the board on not touring Bangladesh in 2017. There were dark clouds floating over Ashes which was to be played in Australia that year as well.
However, peace prevailed and after several round of negotiations a deal was struck. As per the new deal, the players got $120m increase in the revenue share and a significant rise in the payments of the female cricketers.