Announcements of major decisions can have a telling impact, depending on the source.
Yesterday’s disclosure by the president of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), Shashank Manohar, that the US$42 million claim imposed by the previous administration on the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) after the abandonment of the tour to India in 2014 has been waived, understandably gained big headlines.
But if you were to ask Michael Muirhead, the WICB Chief Executive Officer, what is all the fuss about, he would probably say: “I told you so just over three months ago.”
In a story on Cricinfo, Manohar said the West Indies will tour India next year to complete the “unfinished” matches from the 2014 series.
He stated that the issue was “sorted out” when the WICB agreed to tour India to play the pending games 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.
The report went on to state that this was the first time the BCCI had clarified its position on the matter.
“That is now sorted out because they are going to come back and play here next year,” Manohar said. “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.”
That aborted tour on October 17, 2004 will always live with me. After all, October 17 is my birthdate.
West Indies, captained by Dwayne Bravo, lost the fourth One-Day International in Dharmasala by 59 runs –– India had led the series 2-1 with the third match in Visakhapatnam being cancelled without a ball bowled due to a cyclone –– and that was the end of the tour which was to feature five ODIs, one Twenty20 International and three Tests.
Now, it was on January 12 during a wide-ranging interview on Mid Wicket on the Caribbean Broadcasting Corporation that Muirhead, speaking on the issue, was asked by yours truly, “what is the latest word in relation to an agreement between the West Indies Cricket Board and the Board of Control for Cricket in India?”
His response was: “Well, I must say on October 17, 2015 –– one year after –– we met with the Indian Cricket Board in Mumbai and it was at that time that we were given some assurances that India would not be prolonging our pain. Let’s put it that way, and had agreed that they would tour and that we would make up for those games by going to India to play five games at a time that is convenient to us both.
‘They formalized it or we made it public December 23, I think it was, and since such time, they have confirmed and they publicly said the impasse has come to an end.”
Then when I suggested to Muirhead that at “no time in the future should we be making reference to US$42 million owed by the WICB to the Indian Board and to forget about that figure, is it history?” his response was: “Yes, that’s history.”
In yesterday’s report, Manohar said the schedule would be finalised by the end of May. He also stated that no other conditions were laid out by the BCCI during the talks with the WICB.
In light of the latest announcement, I researched the events on the aborted tour.
It was stated that during the India innings in the fourth ODI, Sanjay Patel, the secretary of the BCCI, blamed the WICB for failing to resolve internal issues, which resulted in the tour being called off.
The players, Patel said, had to be “convinced” to take the field for the Dharmasala ODI, though he still sympathised with their situation.
Patel was reported as saying that, he, on behalf of the BCCI, had given the WICB president Dave Cameron a deadline of Thursday, October 16, to confirm that the West Indies would respect the commitment of the full series despite the dispute between WICB, West Indies Players Association (WIPA) and the team members.
The duo, we are told, had met on the sidelines of the ICC Business Corporation Board meeting in Dubai over the weekend.
As everyone waited patiently for a response from the WICB, an email from its headquarters in St. John’s, Antigua, at 11:43 a.m., said: “The media release below is being resent as some media organizations have indicated that they did not receive same when it was sent initially”.
It read: “The West Indies Cricket Board advises, that, contrary to media reports, it has taken no decision to discontinue the on-going tour to India. The WICB will make a further statement following the conclusion of the Fourth One Day International which is in progress”.
So, we waited.
The next WICB release came at 6:09 p.m. stating that the Board of Directors of the WICB “held an emergency meeting by teleconference today to discuss the developments with regard to the West Indies tour of India”.
Ten points were outlined. Among them were:
1. The WICB clarifies that players in the West Indies squad currently in India represented by Mr. Dwayne Bravo indicated to the WICB through the West Indies Team Management that the players have taken a decision to withdraw their services for the remainder of the tour of India. As a result of this action by the players the WICB was left with no option but to advise the BCCI that it will no longer be able to provide a West Indies team for the remaining matches (5th ODI, T20 International, three Test matches).
2. The WICB wishes to further clarify that its proposed alternative arrangement of a replacement West Indies team was not considered acceptable. The WICB is understanding of this position.
6. The WICB clarifies further that as a result of postulations by the players, the tour was under a cloud of uncertainty from the inception. The WICB, acting prudently, advised the host board – BCCI – of the developments and remained in constant contact to provide updates as to the threat of possible player action.
7. The WICB will host an emergency Board Meeting on Tuesday, October 21st, in Barbados, to conduct a thorough assessment of all the ramifications of the premature end to the tour and any action which may be necessary therefrom. The WICB will host a media conference following this meeting. Further details will be provided upon confirmation.
8. The WICB regrets that the delegation which was pre-scheduled to travel to India to meet with the players on a number of issues will no longer be able to conduct such meeting at which the intention was also to discuss the concerns of the players. The delegation had included WICB Chief Executive Officer Mr Michael Muirhead, Chairman of the Cricket Committee Mr Julian Charles and also WIPA President and CEO Mr Wavell Hinds. The delegation had been scheduled to arrive in India on Monday, October 20. This meeting was scheduled prior to any issues being raised with the new MOU/CBA and it was intended to acquaint all the parties of how it would roll out. This was necessary as the WICB did not have an opportunity to do so in the Caribbean due to the logistical challenges of assembling all the players prior to departure for the tour of India (some of the players were already in India participating in the Champions League). The WICB CEO, Mr Muirhead and WIPA President/CEO Mr Hinds had been in negotiations with regard to finding a mutually agreeable position to all for the full tour to be completed.
9. The WICB further regrets that in his initial communication to the WIPA President and CEO Mr Hinds, Mr Bravo chose to use inflammatory language and issue a threat to cause injury to West Indies cricket.
Specifically Mr Bravo wrote: “Please note that we are giving you the opportunity to right this wrong before things deteriorate (sic) to such an extent that West Indies cricket to the wider cricket world looks to fall to its knees again.”
10. The WICB reiterates that as a result of the action taken by the players the Board was forced with no other option but to discontinue the tour. The Board once again apologises unreservedly for the premature end to the tour.
Based on the above, subsequent dialogue between the WICB and the BCCI truly turned things around.
* No. 3, 4, 5 deliberately omitted.
Keith Holder is a veteran, award-winning freelance sports journalist, who has been covering local, regional and international cricket since 1980 as a writer and commentator. He has compiled statistics on the Barbados Cricket Association (BCA) Division 1 (now Elite) championship for three-and-a-half decades and is responsible for editing the BCA website (www.bcacricket.org.). Holder is also the host of the cricket Talk Show, Mid Wicket, on the Caribbean Broadcasting Corporation 100.7 FM on Tuesday nights. Email: Keithfholder@gmail.com