THE latest impasse between players and officials in West Indian cricket has far-reaching repercussions that threaten the very future of the sport in the Caribbean, Fox Sports reports.
The West Indian players’ decision last Friday to pull out of their tour of India with a one-day international, a Twenty20 match and three Tests still to play because of a pay dispute with their board shocked the cricketing world but highlighted the diminishing power of a once great region.
The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) immediately replaced the abandoned matches with five ODIs against Sri Lanka next month, but still stands to lose more than $A54.10 million in revenue.
The BCCI is likely to take legal action for the lost revenue in television rights and ticket sales, raising the real possibility that the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) could be made bankrupt.
If the impasse persists and West Indies field a weakened team, the International Cricket Council might also decide to ban the team from next year’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.
The WICB is already financially stricken and its president Dave Cameron reacted angrily to the players’ decision.
“This feels like an act of terrorism,” Cameron said. “You destroy a region’s heritage over an internal dispute. You don’t threaten the offender as yet. Unbelievable.”
The BCCI has called an emergency meeting on Tuesday in Hyderabad to decide on a course of action, which could also include banning West Indies players from the IPL for a year.
More likely is the BCCI will pull out of any future tours of the West Indies, which bring more revenue to the region than any other country due to broadcast rights, advertising and sponsorship.
“It would be very difficult to play West Indies in bilateral series in future,” BCCI secretary Sanjay Patel told the Press Trust of India news agency.
“They have to demonstrate the willingness that such situations never happen again. I would say that India’s next tour of West Indies is highly unlikely to go ahead in the current situation.”
West Indies chief selector and former captain Clive Lloyd apologised for the players’ actions in a televised cricket discussion in New Delhi on Saturday night.
“I want to talk about the West Indies,” Lloyd said. “I apologise for the team leaving. Some guys decided to stop this tour and I think it is a mistake. I did not want it to end like this. It’s unfortunate we left, and I hope the damage is not irreparable.”
However, former India captain Sunil Gavaskar said the West Indian players would lose popularity.
“Whether it was the West Indies board, or the players association, or the players themselves that were responsible is not known,” Gavaskar wrote in the Times of India, “but cricket has suffered a blow to its image and the West Indians, who are universally popular, have not done themselves any favours by abruptly cancelling the tour.
“Hopefully reason will prevail and the West Indians get back to doing what they do best, that is to play cricket and bring the joie de vivre to the game that only they can bring.”
West Indies selector and former fast bowler Courtney Walsh was part of the team 16 years ago that refused to travel to South Africa from London in a dispute with the WICB over tour fees.
“We’ve all had issues with the board, from Viv Richards, Clive Lloyd and I was part of the team that had to strike — or didn’t leave England for various reasons,” Walsh told the Trinidad Express.
“But we have gone past that stage and you want to give everything a try first. All of us want the players to be happy but there is a right way and a wrong way of going about it.”
“I don’t think you should hang out dirty linen in public. It could have been handled a lot better. If efforts were made first and nothing happened, then you sort of take other measures, but if the first thing you want to do is strike, well, I don’t think it’s right.”
At issue is the players’ unhappiness at the new pay agreement between the WICB and the head of the West Indies Players’ Association (WIPA), Wavell Hinds.
The players reportedly agreed in principle to a cut in pay but claim the losses amount to up to 75 per cent of match fees and all of their image rights and ICC fees, thus triggering their dissatisfaction with Hinds.
It’s not known if the figures are accurate but some claim the decision by the West Indies ‘A’ team to continue its current tour of Sri Lanka shows not every player is unhappy with Hinds’ leadership of WIPA.
It’s not the first time West Indies players and the WICB have engaged in brinkmanship. There were strikes before series against Sri Lanka in 2005 and Bangladesh in 2009. On both occasions, replacements were brought in but the BCCI dismissed any chance of that happening this time.
West Indies tour South Africa for three Tests, five ODIs and two T20 matches from December 10 through to January 28, and Cricket South Africa is unlikely to accept a weakened team. And Australia is scheduled to tour the Caribbean immediately after the World Cup.
Highly respected commentator Tony Cozier said West Indies’ waning on-field success was being reflected in crowd figures and general interest in the region.
“The fact of the matter is that the West Indies, under the ICC rankings for Tests and ODIs, they’re eighth in the list and only above Bangladesh and Zimbabwe,” Cozier told Cricinfo. “The interest in cricket here in the Caribbean on the field has certainly waned to a large extent. The Test matches against New Zealand, a very good series here back in June, a good tight series New Zealand won 2-1, you looked at the crowds then and you had maybe 200-300 people at the ground. The biggest crowd perhaps was in Barbados where you had about 1000. That just reflects the exasperation of the supporters here in the Caribbean. They can’t understand why this should be happening over and over and over. You wonder if they’ve all given up on it now.
“In any situation when you have an employer against an employee, which is the board and the players, that public sympathy would be inclined more to the employee who happens to be the players and of course they are the ones who go into the middle. They are the stars. There are other sports which have come up and challenged West Indies cricket, which after all has been the bedrock of unity within the Caribbean for the better part of 120 years. Whether it will continue, well that’s another question.”
For the original report go to http://www.foxsports.com.au/cricket/west-indies-withdrawal-from-india-tour-over-pay-dispute-threatens-future-of-cricket-in-caribbean/story-e6frf3g3-1227095542972?nk=183bb37bb3c9a60d7cb0d7b9ea625cfa