How complicated this summer game of flannelled fools has become.
Cricket’s age of innocence has long passed. The big bucks escaped Headley, Weekes, Worrell and Walcott. Sobers perhaps brought his wizardry several generations too soon. They were loyalists in a time when loyalists weren’t really paid.
We are now in the era of the Indian Premier League, the Big Bash, fast food cricket, where money talks and often ability, national pride and desire walk. But we are what we are.
The West Indies team have aborted the tour of India as their conflict with their own West Indies Players’ Association and the West Indies Cricket Board continues to rage.
The war has nothing to do with performances and productivity. It is all about money. And the previously two entities of WICB and WIPA, now ironically three, cannot come to agreement on this issue related to money. Everybody needs to be paid. In this instance it would appear that the international players are hell-bent on ensuring that they continue to receive the big bucks, while WIPA is adamant on spreading the largesse a bit further than the internationals.
These three factions, players, WIPA and the WICB need to resolve this impasse with some dispatch. The regional game is already bleeding from the mediocrity which our internationals take to the middle more often than not. The ongoing feud does nothing to enhance our international sporting image nor does it engender confidence in those who sponsor the game in the Caribbean. But mostly, the embarrassing confusion is serving to further alienate Caribbean people who are not far from total disenchantment with our sporting heroes.
We think the timing of the players’ decision to withdraw their labour was unfortunate. Tours of India or cricket generally played involving India add significant revenue to the coffers of the WICB. It is perhaps the most lucrative association for regional cricket. For a group of players remonstrating over money, it seems rather counter-productive to engage in an act that is almost certain to cost the WICB significantly.
The regional board has in essence reneged on any contractual arrangement it would have had with the Board of Control for Cricket in India, as a result of the West Indies players bringing the tour to a premature end. Over the next few hours or days it should become clearer whether the BCCI will institute legal action against the WICB to recoup any financial losses it would have incurred as a result of the West Indies’ breach of contract. Any financial shortfall could negatively redound not only to the international players, but to those regional players who might never experience the honour of wearing West Indies maroon.
Perhaps with a bit more thought, West Indies’ industrial action could have taken place at home, and not before unfamiliar faces in Delhi or Mumbai. It has not been a great spectacle and Mr Bravo must accept that washing dirty linen in Georgetown, Bridgetown, Kingston or Port of Spain would be more sightly than doing it somewhere in the back streets of Kolkata or Kochi.
Mr. Bravo must also appreciate that in life, there is a process to most things. If WIPA is the representative of the players, and he, or the majority, no longer wants Wavell Hinds at the head of WIPA, they cannot merely say go and he goes. There is a process through which he was elected as WIPA’s head. If they no longer want his services, they must seek to achieve this through the application of that process. They cannot expect to claim his head from Dharamsala.
We suspect that the players, through the adversarial approach of former WIPA head honcho Dinanath Ramnarine, have become so accustomed to getting one-up on the WICBC that they believed if they once again flexed their muscles they would get their own way. They haven’t.
But this is not the time for an adversarial approach, nor for either party to do or say anything to inflame an already volatile situation.
Mr. Bravo had no basis on which to insist that the WICB not speak to WIPA on the players’ behalf. The WICB then did the disagreeable situation no good by verbalizing its intention of dealing with the players only through WIPA.
The only voice being heard from the players is Bravo’s. While the silence of the majority does not necessarily mean agreement, but could simply be a show of solidarity with the skipper. Whenever the three sides sit down, there must be a situation where the interests of the many and not the one, or the few, are satisfied.
It is evident that Mr. Hinds has lost the trust of the West Indies One-Day International captain. Trust was never an issue for either party when Hinds was Ramnarine’s WIPA deputy. If Bravo is saying that he and the players were not privy to the contents and terms of the collective bargaining agreement, this is a fundamental issue which must be dealt with immediately.
If Mr. Hinds wants to continue as WIPA boss then there must be a mending of fences between himself and the players. If that cannot be achieved and the majority of cricketers, international and regional, want him gone, then he should. Inasmuch as the players are deserving of respect, it is time that the WICB be given its due as well. Despite the ups and downs, the WICB has served regional cricket well and our modern millionaires owe their success to the structures the WICB has put in place over the years and the nurturing environment which it has facilitated.
But in the final analysis, with a tour to South Africa in December and a World Cup in early 2015, West Indies cricket needs this current instability as much as it needs players who do not tie success and results into the largesse they demand.