Amid rising calls for the dissolution of the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB), that regional organizing cricketing body has scored a major administrative victory.
Today president of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), Shashank Manohar, revealed that the BDS$84 million claim imposed by the previous BCCI administration on the WICB for abandoning the 2014 tour to India mid-way had been waived.
The West Indies team, he said, would tour India next year to complete the “unfinished” matches from the 2014 series.
According to Manohar, the issue was “sorted out” when the WICB agreed to tour India to play the pending games. The decision was taken, he said, when the BCCI’s top officials spoke with the WICB late last year, before clearing India’s tour to the West Indies scheduled for this summer. This is the first time the BCCI has clarified its position on the matter.
“That is now sorted out because they are going to come back and play here next year,” Manohar toldESPNcricinfo. “They have to complete those [unfinished] games. That was a claim raised by the board. [We] would be satisfied by them coming and playing here.”
Manohar said the schedule would be finalised by the end of May. He said no other conditions were laid out by the BCCI during the talks with the West Indies board. WICB president Dave Cameron, without elaborating much, said: “We stand by whatever Mr Manohar says.”
Speaking toBarbados TODAYthis evening, WICB director Conde Riley described the BCCI’s decision as a victory for cricket. He said the WICB was aware that this was the direction the BCCI would take but had allowed them to make the official announcement since they had brought the claim.
He said it was the previous BCCI administration which had made the claim but noted Manohar, the new president, was adamant that the BCCI had no intention of doing anything to bankrupt West Indies cricket because of the actions of its players. Riley said the WICB’s hierarchy had held discussions with the Manohar-led board on the issue late last year and had come to an agreement.
Riley stressed that the WICB and the BCCI have always enjoyed an excellent relationship, made even closer since that occasion in 1962 when Indian captain Nari Contractor was felled by a bouncer in Barbados and West Indies captain Frank Worrell was the first player from both sides to donate blood that eventually assisted in saving his life.
With the settlement of the issue including the completion of the aborted 2014 India tour, Riley said that did not mean the same players would be returning but the selectors would choose a team to make that tour next year. He said some of the same players could be involved if they were still playing cricket and available for selection.
In October 2014, when West Indies captain Dwayne Bravo led the players’ boycott, the team returned home after the fourth ODI against India in Dharamsala. The tour was meant to comprise five ODIs, one T20I and three Tests. Calling the abandonment a “monumental disaster”, the then BCCI administration slapped punitive damages on the WICB, and also suspended all bilateral tours between the two parties until the issue was resolved.
The first signal that the relationship between the two boards was on the mend came last December when Cameron issued a media release stating India would honour the commitment to play a four-Test series in the Caribbean in July-August 2016, as listed in the ICC’s Future Tours Programme. Cameron did not mention anything about the punitive claims, though.
Last month, Cameron sounded positive when asked about the BCCI’s claim. “We will do a joint media release for you as soon as both boards are ready,” Cameron had toldESPNcricinfoduring an interview days before West Indies triumphed in the World T20.
The WICB has been constantly criticized by a select group of players including Bravo, Kieron Pollard, Chris Gayle and Darren Sammy, who have claimed the players have been disrespected by the board. There have been frequent squabbles over remuneration with the players expressing lack of confidence in their bargaining body, the West Indies Players Association, with whom the WICB negotiates terms of contracts. Several of the international players have withdrawn from WIPA.
Prime Minister of Grenada, Dr Keith Mitchell and Trinidad and Tobago leader, Dr Keith Rowley, have been strident critics of the Cameron-led board, while supporting recommendations by the CARICOM Cricket Governance Sub-Committee for the WICB’s dissolution. Dr Rowley admitted recently that he had hoped the BCCI had insisted on its claim and that it had eventually led to the bankruptcy of the WICB.
Last week Dr Mitchell invited several retired legends to the Spice Isle, including Sir Viv Richards, Sir Garry Sobers, Sir Andy Roberts and Sir Wes Hall, for a meeting. The retired greats subsequently issued a statement where they too joined Mitchell in calling for a dissolution of the board.
However, president of the Barbados Cricket Association and West Indies fast-bowling great Joel Garner has bemoaned the political interference in the management of West Indies cricket. Speaking earlier this month at the BCA’s quarterly meeting at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre, Garner called on CARICOM leaders to show what their contribution to the development of the region’s young cricketers had been.
“We have to ask them where are the development plans within the schools and the clubs in the individual territories,” he asked.
Garner’s comments echoed those of some commentators who have questioned CARICOM’s call for the dissolution of the WICB in circumstances where the board has functioned more efficiently since its formation in the 1920s, than CARICOM itself has performed.