India and Pakistan are the only full-time members of the ICC not to have a registered players’ association, and one of the key reforms suggested by the Justice Lodha Committee is setting up one.
So far, India cricketers have not been forced into a position that has warranted a major players’ movement. The Lodha panel has recommended the forming of a committee to put in place a players’ body.
A country where a cricketers’ association has helped tremendously is Bangladesh. The Cricketers’ Welfare Association of Bangladesh (CWAB) was formed in 2004, and is the only self-funded players’ association in world cricket, says general secretary Debabrata Paul.
In the past few years, the association has successfully fought to give players their dues after franchises in the Bangladesh Premier League (BPL) failed to pay up following the first two seasons.
The CWAB is currently in negotiation with the Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) to uphold their right to negotiate terms in domestic leagues.
“The reason why the association was formed was because players were being given the last preference. They were being ignored in all decisions,” said Paul.
“The BCB is trying to implement a ceiling on salaries for the Dhaka Premier League, which is Bangladesh’s premier domestic tournament. Before this, all players had a right to negotiate their terms with clubs. We have taken up the matter and it helps the low-profile players, who otherwise have little voice,” he added.
The CWAB has 730 members consisting of about 130 first-class cricketers, including all members of the national team and cricket academy. The formation of the association has been made a part of the BCB’s constitution. A member of the association is also made part of the Board’s core committee and has a say in all decisions pertaining to players.
The CWAB, along with the Australian Cricketers’ Association, New Zealand Cricket Players’ Association, Professional Cricketers’ Association (UK), Sri Lankan Cricketers’ Association and West Indies Players’ Association constitute the cricketers’ bodies in the world.
“We do not take funds from the BCB. Each player pays a yearly fee of about $50 (R3,415). We have a 13-member committee which also includes former captains of the national team and members of the current national side,” said Paul.
The association recently became a full member of the Federation of International Cricketers’ Association (FICA). However, Paul maintains the body is a work in progress. “India and Pakistan do not have a players’ body which needs to change. Their boards pay players good money, but not every player feels he is treated well. The big names will get what they want, but interests of even the junior-most cricketer need to be addressed,” he said.