In an unprecedented move, the West Indies cricket team has abandoned its tour of India with three Test matches and a One Day International (ODI) and T20 fixture yet to be completed.
It is the first time in the history of cricket, according to ESPN CricInfo, that a series has been abandoned for anything short of war, terrorism or encroaching political violence.
In this case, it was the issue of the players’ image rights and a share of sponsorship money which caused the cancellation of the tour. The West Indies players were incensed that their union, the West Indies Players Association (WIPA), headed by president Wavell Hinds had agreed to concede roughly 65 percent of their earnings to the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) allegedly without consulting the players.
When WICB president Dave Cameron told the players—in a letter published on Wired868 earlier this week—that the regional governing body would not renegotiate the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA)/Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that it agreed with WIPA, a reaction was always expected.
It proved to be the most drastic response possible as West Indies’ cricket imploded with the WICB and WIPA seemingly in one corner, the players in the next and a gulf of distrust and disdain between.
BCCI (Board of Control for Cricket in India) secretary Anurag Thakur told PTI that the West Indies players were “hell bent not to play” today’s fourth ODI and only took the field upon his insistence. West Indies lost by 59 runs despite 112 runs from 106 balls from elegant middle-order batsman Marlon Samuels.
Earlier, West Indies ODI captain Dwayne Bravo, accompanied by his teammates, told television commentator Ian Bishop, at the toss that it was “time to make a decision.”
In a letter to the WICB President, the West Indies cricketers stated they would return home.
“As a consequence and as a matter of principle, we cannot be party to this grave injustice,” stated Bravo, on behalf of the West Indies team. “The players regretfully wish to advise that they can no longer accept this situation, which has affected each and every player in a very negative way. The players are under tremendous stress and undue pressure.
“We have informed the Manager and Coach of our decision to return home with the hope that these issues will be addressed to the satisfaction of all.”
The BCCI said it was informed by an email this morning from team manager Richie Richardson, on behalf of the WICB, that West Indies was abandoning the tour.
It is uncertain whether the WICB made any last ditch effort to compromise with its players before the monumental decision was taken.
The BCCI immediately announced five ODIs against Sri Lanka next month to help fill the void. But it was also made clear that cricket’s most powerful nation would seek legal action against the West Indies.
“The reason given by WICB is that there were internal issues among their boys,” said BCCI joint secretary Sanjay Patal. “The BCCI will be going to ICC and is planning to sue the WICB and claim for damages. We will not take this lying down as we have cooperated with them in every aspect.”
A BCCI release further accused the WICB of failing to honour its commitment and stated that the withdrawal had “given little thought to the future of the game, the players and the long standing relations between the BCCI and WICB” and had not reflected well on any of the parties involved.
Tony Irish, the executive chairman of international players’ association, FICA, said today represented a dark day for cricket.
“FICA is dismayed that the tour has been called off,” he said. “It’s not good for cricket and it’s not good for player relations within cricket.”
Former West Indies pace bowler and legend Michael Holding, who is now one of the foremost cricket analysts, described the WICB’s decision as ridiculous and embarrassing and he accused the Board of hiding behind half-truths.
He hinted too that Cameron might have made the memorable decision without consulting his fellow WICB directors.
“I have never seen anything like this in the past,” Holding told Sky TV. “I can see serious repercussions from this. I think this is a ridiculous decision by the West Indies Cricket Board. They like to hide behind half-truths.
“It’s embarrassing for me, as someone who played for the West Indies, to see this happening. I was told a director of the WICB did not know about this decision. Let us hope the majority of the board made this decision, otherwise it has been made by very dubious means.”
The WICB seemed to add to the confusion with a 23-word release, on its own website, which claimed that it had not cancelled the tour.
“The West Indies Cricket Board advises, that, contrary to media reports, it has taken no decision to discontinue the ongoing tour to India,” stated the WICB.
It is uncertain whether the WICB intends to belatedly save the series, is attempting to shirk responsibility for the cancellation or is trying to head off sanctions from the BCCI. The regional sport body has promised further details later today.
The WICB statement came hours after the India and Sri Lanka boards both confirmed a replacement ODI series.
(Below is the full letter emailed by the West Indies cricket team to WICB president Dave Cameron today)
Dear Mr Cameron,
I refer to your letter dated 10th October, which we received earlier today (Oct 16th) via the media. Let me thank you for the courtesy of your response to our letter sent to you on October 10th 2014.
As you would recall in our October 10th letter to you, we stated: “For the record, we wish to reiterate our position put forward to the WICB earlier through WIPA, which is, that we propose the continuation under the old structure until a new agreement is reached between the players and WICB. Neither the WICB nor the players would be disadvantaged by such a mutually agreed arrangement. We believe this to be a sensible and reasonable option in the interim, while we negotiate new terms and conditions that have been properly ventilated.”
We must express that we are all disheartened and extremely disappointed that our proposal to the WICB has been rejected outright. The players also stated: “as an act of good faith and in the spirit of camaraderie that epitomizes regional cricket, we conceded to go forward with the 1st One-Day Match in India with the expectation that we would resolve the critical matter of all our contractual terms.”
As a further sign of good faith we proceeded to make ourselves available for the 2nd and 3rd ODI. As indicated to all, our decision to play in India was in no way intended to convey an acceptance by the players of the unreasonable terms and conditions put forward to us by WICB nor was it intended as an expression of our acceptance of the purported new Memorandum of Understanding.
We now wish to address some more matters of concern raised in your letter to the players. We note your offer to mediate since in your view this is a matter between WIPA and its members. We wish to state that while you may have been well intended, the offer to mediate on a document that the WICB is a party to cannot be entertained.
Mr. President, what would the WICB say after reviewing the document and the facts surrounding the signing of the document? Would the WICB say that the document is favourable to the WICB and that WIPA should not have signed without a resolution by its members, without consulting with its members and board among all the other things that is reasonably required? We think not!!!
Mr. President, you made several references to the new purported MOU signed by WICB and WIPA. You stated that, “the document is explicit in that the WIPA is the sole and exclusive collective bargaining agent representative recognized by the WICB i.e. all persons contracted by the WICB to play for the West Indies team.”
You further stated, “for the record, we would like to point out to you our view that the new MOU/CBA creates a clear, sustainable, long term compensation structure.”…………….. “The agreement also creates the framework for WICB and WIPA to comprehensively address the use of players’ image rights- so that both the WICB and the players may benefit in relation to such usage.”
Sir, for your information, we have not signed the match/tour contract presented to us by the WICB on the advice of WIPA. Furthermore, we are yet to receive a copy of the new purported MOU. As you know, the issue of player image rights’ has been a bone of contention for over a decade between the WICB and WIPA. It has also been subject to many arbitration rulings and challenged repeatedly by the WICB, such that I am aware that there was a proposed arbitration on this very issue pending.
So WIPA members would have needed to sign off on this area which was in contention yet it appears that it has been addressed in the purported MOU and, very significantly, to the WICB’s satisfaction.
Mr. President, as you recognized in your response, the players acted in good faith and played the first three ODI’s with the high expectation that the matter would be resolved or a clear pathway for an acceptable resolution identified. This must be viewed in the context that we have played without any knowledge of the purported new MOU and having been advised by WIPA not to sign the match/tour contract.
In other words, we are playing without having agreed the terms and conditions. This therefore means that we have no real coverage in place for medical, insurance, security and many other terms and conditions that come with being an international cricketer.
We were truly hoping that the WICB together with WIPA and/or the players would do everything in their power to seriously address the concerns of the players. Regrettably, this has not happened.
Mr. President, for the record, the players are not against the need for restructuring and reform. The players’ issue is that there has been no resolution, no mandate, no consultation, no prior Board approval as far as WIPA is concerned and yet there is an agreement of unreasonable terms and conditions. In addition to the issue of deficient representation there is a case that the purported MOU may be wholly unjust and unfair and the new salary structure is untenable.
In these circumstances the players feel there is sufficient basis to ask for its termination and its renegotiation.
It appears to us that the WICB is asking the players to make all the sacrifice. Have you asked your administrative employees such as your CEO, Senior Executives, the numerous Administrative Assistants, Marketing personnel, Team Managers, Team Personnel and Incoming Coach to take a two-third cut on their salaries and allowances?
It is therefore not a true representation to say this is solely an issue between players and their representative. The WICB had a duty to be sure that all partners and stakeholders were aware and understood the consequences of such a fundamental change as is being proposed.
Mr. President, having taken the field in good faith, appealed to WIPA to address our concerns to no avail and asked the WICB to demonstrate with action, what is often bandied about in words, namely that they are interested in player welfare and partnership, it seems to us that there has been no reciprocal action.
As a consequence and as a matter of principle, we cannot be party to this grave injustice. The players regretfully wish to advise that they can no longer accept this situation, which has affected each and every player in a very negative way. The players are under tremendous stress and undue pressure.
We have informed the Manager and Coach of our decision to return home with the hope that these issues will be addressed to the satisfaction of all.
Dwayne Bravo on behalf of the WI team.
Editor’s Note: Please click HERE to read the preceding letter sent by the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) president Dave Cameron to the players.
Or click HERE to read more about what the three parties were fighting over.