History has thrown up some amusingly poignant moments.
We have had images of Don Quixote fighting manfully against windmills. We have read of Balaam being scolded by his own ass. Now add to these the spectre of the Dwayne Bravo-led West Indies team threatening industrial action against their own union, to the detriment and embarrassment of the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) and the regional game.
The West Indies Players’ Association (WIPA) has played a spectacular role in improving the financial lot of West Indies’ international players. Under the leadership of Dinanath Ramnarine and Wavell Hinds, significant gains were made in terms of increased salaries and access to a greater portion of revenues generated by the board through its mutual relationships with other cricketing boards and sponsors.
One of WIPA’s greatest and underestimated coups has been its ability to ensure that salaries and perks earned through the WICB have not been strictly tied to team performances and results; a state of affairs that exists in many other business arrangements. Had the WICB insisted on this performance prerequisite over the past 15 or so years, we dare say that WIPA would be representing several international paupers.
We note that since the passing of the baton from Ramnarine to his deputy Hinds, and the ascension of fellow Jamaicans Michael Muirhead and Dave Cameron to the posts of chief executive officer and president of the WICB respectively, the relationship between WIPA and the WICB has been amicable in comparison to previous years. This is a major credit to the three Jamaicans and the relative peace has been welcomed by regional cricket fans.
The point which seems to have eluded Bravo and his unnamed and unnumbered cohorts is that WIPA is their union, their representative, and their association signed off on a memorandum of understanding and collective bargaining agreement on their behalf with the WICB. It holds as much validity as if they had each signed on the dotted line themselves.
If now they have an issue with WIPA and Hinds, on what grounds are they threatening strike action when their grouse is not really with their employer? What argument can they bring to justify embarrassing their employer; exposing the WICB to financial penalties if any of the One-Day Internationals in India is forfeited; or once again creating angst among long-suffering regional supporters?
If the players are dissatisfied with the representation coming from Hinds and the WIPA executive, and wish to be rid of them, they must come up with the strategy to achieve this end. But strike action cannot and should not be on the table since WIPA is not their employer and such foolhardy industrial action will have the least impact on their union.
Another significant aspect of this call to arms by Bravo and which is still shrouded in mystery is still to be answered. Who does WIPA represent? Does the union represent only international players? Do the MOU and CBA cover those taking the hot sun at the domestic regional level? Is WIPA the representative of the West Indies or West Indian players? Was WIPA the representative of the players on Floyd Reifer’s strike-busting 2009 team that confronted Bangladesh in the Caribbean? Who really are WIPA’s constituents?
We are subject to correction, but we get the distinct impression that deals brokered by WIPA are only for international players and the others are often left to fend for themselves or to take what is on offer from the WICB. If we are wrong, then it appears that only our perennial non-performing internationals have a problem with WIPA’s representation since domestic regional players do not complain publicly about anything. Indeed, as seen in 2009, the WICB can quickly draw on their services at short notice.
Eighteen years ago the West Indies Cricket Board of Control dropped “Control” from its title as a symbolic gesture to show that the relationship between players and board was more of a partnership. Under Ramnarine WIPA seemingly took up the “Control” and almost symbolically became WIPAC with the regional game constantly crushed between the two warring factions. It was a disgusting and vexatious period, especially in an environment where our highly paid internationals continued to fail abysmally.
We will be the first to support any person or group which seeks to fight for its rights. But when battle lines are drawn the least the initiator should be clear on is who is the adversary. In this instance, how Bravo arrived at the WICB, regional cricket and regional fans being the adversary, is totally beyond our comprehension.
That, sir, is what your threatened strike action would suggest even to the Don and the talking ass.