West Indies’ cricket chaos took a turn for the worse today after Indian cricket authorities decided to take punitive action against the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB).
The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has suspended all bilateral tours to the West Indies in response to the Dwayne Bravo-led West Indies team’s decision to pull out of their India tour prematurely. India were expected to play five series against West Indies in the next eight years, including four visits to the Caribbean.
While a BCCI release today made no specific mention of any claim for damages, the Indian board will also initiate legal proceedings against the WICB. The BCCI’s statement did not mention any action against West Indies players who participate in the IPL. The players were unlikely to be suspended from participation in the league with their franchises backing them. The BCCI has been steadfast in blaming the WICB for the current debacle.
At today’s BCCI working committee meeting held in Hyderabad, members unanimously felt that strong action needed to be taken against the WICB in order to prevent recurrence of such an event. One working committee member revealed that the BCCI’s legal advisers said that the bilateral agreement “has been breached” and the BCCI had “every right to claim damages”. This, according to him, made the decision easy for the committee. Another member revealed that the claim amount and the jurisdiction would be decided by the legal advisers.
It is understood that during the informal discussions during the build-up to the meeting in Hyderabad, some members had suggested that the BCCI suspend ties with WICB for a specific period. However, the committee was convinced that the abrupt manner in which the tour was called off deserved the harshest possible punishment. As an insider revealed “the manner in which the WICB put its hands up” during the whole standoff with its players which led to the cancellation of the tour midway made the BCCI believe that the bilateral ties should be suspended “indefinitely”.
“At the moment, it looks unlikely that the bilateral series would resume anytime soon. It will be up to the legal cell now to see if and when a settlement takes place,” revealed an insider. Officials in India have put their projected losses as a result of the aborted tour at $65 million.
However, it is highly unlikely the WICB could meet such a hefty financial penalty. Last October the WICB was reportedly $5.6 million in the red, with chartered accountants at KPMG insisting that there was significant doubt that it could continue as a going concern. The last Indian tour to the Caribbean in 2011, which comprised three Tests, five One Day Internationals and one Twenty20 International, reportedly netted the WICB $22.3 million. Today’s sanction from the BCCI adds considerable headache to the regional body.
At a meeting convened today at the Accra Beach Hotel, the WICB again expressed its regret and embarrassment by last week’s events in India. The board also apologized to the regional public.
In a statement, the WICB acknowledged that it was aware of the decisions made by the BCCI but believed a way could be found to repair the damage caused and to ensure that similar events did not recur, with the focus being on the betterment of West Indies and world cricket.
”In light of the longstanding good relationship between WICB and BCCI, which goes back decades and has produced numerous mutual benefits, the WICB looks forward to meeting with the BCCI to discuss these decisions which can have serious implications for West Indies cricket,” the board’s statement noted.
The statement outlined a four-point plan which included: establishing a task force comprising critical stakeholders to review the premature end of the tour to India and meet with all parties, including WIPA and the players, before reporting its findings to the Board of Directors; the request of a meeting with the BCCI; scheduling an urgent debriefing with the West Indies team management unit; and assuring Cricket South Africa that it would use its best endeavour to ensure a successful tour of South Africa as scheduled.
One man who has escaped the confusion is former West Indies coach Ottis Gibson and today he told Barbados TODAY from the United Kingdom that he was saddened by the fiasco.
“Naturally, as a West Indian, and I was always a West Indian player and a fan first before I became a coach, of course it is sad to see what is going on at the moment.”
However, Gibson did not want to be drawn into the current controversy. He said while he had been closely following the developments, “the [current] decision makers are the ones who need to do the talking”.
“I have nothing to say regarding that other than I enjoyed my time with the West Indies and I’m looking forward to the next phase of my career. That’s all I have to say really.”
When asked if he was relieved to have parted ways with the team before the current controversy broke out, Gibson, whose West Indies coaching assignment was abruptly ended after four years in August this year, chuckled and said: “You just have to listen to my voice and that answers it for you.”
Chairman of the Barbados selectors, Hendy Wallace, described the situation as unfortunate. Questioned as to whether he agreed with the players’ stance in India, Wallace said he hoped their decision was not their “first option”.
“Well not having all the details, I would say that I was a bit surprised that it came to that point. Normally you would expect negotiations to be fully exhausted before you fully reach that point. But as I said, not being privy to all the intricacies, the players may argue that they had exhausted all possible options for negotiations. But from my standpoint, I would hope that was not the first option,” he said.
Today, Minister of Sports Stephen Lashley called for calmness to return to West Indies cricket.
“Like any other citizen and being the Minister of Sports, I am also concerned about the developments that would have taken place in India. I would like to call on all concerned – the WICB and the West Indies Players Association (WIPA) and of course the cricketers – to ensure that they could get to a point of agreement within the shortest possible time.
“I think the most important aspect of this is that cricket must not be compromised and that West Indies cricket must be returned to a state of normalcy within the shortest possible time. Now for that to happen, persons would have to step back from their various positions, and ensure that they could engage in discussions and negotiations that are informed by level headedness and good sense and sensibility,” he said.