On October 17, 2014, India and West Indies played the fourth ODI of a five-match series, in the hill town of Dharamsala. Halfway through the match, news emerged that the West Indies Cricket Board (now Cricket West Indies) had decided to call off the rest of the tour. The WICB communicated to the BCCI that it was left with no choice after a contracts fallout with the players.
Dwayne Bravo was West Indies’ captain for that series. He would never again play an ODI. Bravo, who retired from international cricket late last month, has pointed to the dispute as the main reason for this. Bravo spoke recently to i955fm, a Trinidad-based radio station, chronicling the sequence of events that led to the India tour being abandoned.
Looking back at the events that transpired in India, would you do anything differently?
The only thing I would do differently is tape everyone. Record everyone who was in there. I’m the only player that really paid for what happened in India. The only one who never get the opportunity to play one-day cricket again. I made a stand, as the captain, as the leader of the team, for the best interest of my players, and by extension the players who have come and played for West Indies cricket. At the end of the day, it wasn’t fair on our bosses to send us on tour and cut the guys’ contract by 75 percent. It was just really unfair.
Was it unanimous?
Collectively as a team, we decided what to do. I listened to every single player. Apart from one player, everyone signed on a piece of paper, that they were all in support of leaving the tour. But we did not just decide to walk away from the tour. There were different times when we tried to reach out to both our WIPA president [Wavell Hinds] and the cricket president [Dave Cameron, Cricket West Indies president]. So we threatened [to pull out] from the first game, but we played. We threatened for the second game, but we played. The [fourth] game we went out (the whole team accompanied Bravo to the toss), so it was just a message and a signal, trying to let them know that we are not happy with whatever is going on.
I remember fully well before we said we weren’t going to play the first game, 3 a.m. in the morning, I get a message from the BCCI boss, the old one, Mr [N] Srinivasan, that “please take the field.” I listened to him – and woke up at 6 a.m. to tell the team that we have to play. And everyone was against playing. Everyone thought that I panicked and chickened out and all these things.
But I was more concerned about the players’ future more than anything else, because it was a serious decision to not play and walk away from the tour. All of us could have been banned for life. So by taking the opportunity and listening to the bosses of BCCI, that was one way to ensure that we are protected.
After that first game what happened?
We played the first game, we beat India, then we travelled to Delhi. At that time the president [Cameron] was in Dubai, which is few hours away from Delhi. He said he is still not going to come and meet us.
Where was WIPA president [Hinds] all this time?
In Jamaica. They [Hinds and Cameron] were scheduled to come, I think, two weeks after the ODI series, by when most of us would have left. Only the Test team would be there. We play the second game, we lose, then the third game rained out, so we stayed in Delhi for an extra week. Again the president [Cameron] refused to come. Then we went to Dharamsala, up in the hills, that’s where we play the last game.
Did anyone from BCCI still try to influence you all to continue to play?
After we played three of the games, we decided we’re going to see how far we reach. Hopefully, someone from the West Indies board [would] come and assist us. I remember talking to Mr Lloyd (Clive Lloyd, chairman of selectors at the time), pleading to him basically that he can actually make a difference in this situation because at the end of the day he’s Clive Lloyd. “If you pick up the phone, call the president [Cameron] and say sort this out, he (the president) has to listen.” It’s Clive Lloyd, one of the biggest names in world cricket. I guess that call was never made and at the end of the day Dwayne Bravo and to a lesser extent [Kieron] Pollard – who got a bit of the blame – but it was all on my shoulders.
For people to really understand that one of the reasons we even had that fallout between players and the board as far as the contracts is concerned, in January of 2014 we had a WIPA general meeting. The WIPA president Mr Hinds said that we have a proposal – we want to implement a professional league system and in order for that to take place, they asked the West Indies men’s senior team to take a salary cut. So, the senior players who were in the meeting – myself, [Ramnaresh] Sarwan, [Shivnarine] Chanderpaul – we all agree. We said okay, yes we can take a salary cut, let’s discuss figures. The president [Hinds] said that there are no figures yet. They wanted to know whether or not the players would be willing to take a salary cut and when at the end of that meeting our answer was yes, we can take a salary cut, let us know the percentage.
The next time we hear from WIPA, or see anything about our contract or new figures, was in October, when the team was already in India. When the team arrived in India – I was already there playing Champions League for Chennai Super Kings – couple of the players message me, “skipper, did you see the new contract?” I said, no. When you look at it, you see, straight across the board, the players’ salary was cut by 75 percent. That’s where it really, really happened, where everything break down. I straightaway get on to Wavell Hinds. He says, “Bravo, tell the players do not sign the contract, it’s not still cast in stone, do not sign the contract.”
Wavell Hinds told you not to sign the contracts?
Yes, which I relayed that to the players. After, before we play our first game (first ODI), that we had a Skype call with Wavell Hinds.
You should’ve recorded that?
As I said that is the only regret I have, that I did not record these things. We said to him “who gave you the rights to negotiate our new contracts without discussing it with any player?” He said he talk to some players. We said, “who you talk to?” He said he talk to Denesh Ramdin and Darren Bravo. Darren Bravo and Denesh Ramdin both stand up and say, “Wavell, that’s a lie. That never took place.” Wavell Hinds had nothing to say.
Then, his next excuse was he sent the information to Samuel Badree months ago and it was Samuel Badree’s responsibility to relay the message to the players. Samuel Badree said to him, in his face, “Wavell Hinds I am a cricketer. It is your job [and] that’s why we elect you as president.” You can’t send a player who is on tour, playing cricket, a 90-page contract, saying to go through it [and] relay the message to the players. That’s where it all break down, where it all went wrong.
After that tour the BCCI said it was owed by the CWI about USD 40-plus million because the players left the tour?
It was a big damage. Obviously a hefty bill. To me, my concern was players and our contracts.
Do you think the BCCI was on the side of the Windies players? Or they understood the players?
Yeah, they understood, of course. Because they were very supportive of all of us. Actually, they even offered to pay us whatever we were losing. We was like, “we don’t want you to pay us. We need our board to sort out our contracts.” The BCCI was very, very supportive and that is one of the reasons why most of us were still able to continue playing without any serious, serious problems taking place.