Dear Editor: Should WI scrap the retainer contract system? Is CWI getting value for money?

“[…] As the governing body of WI cricket, CWI has to shoulder the blame for the nonsense arrangement whereby players collect a monthly salary from the board and, when selection time comes around, turn up and fail a fitness test. 

“[…] Is it not fair to conclude that they are just collecting the money and could not care less if Sunday falls on a Monday? It seems fair to say that only those who have personal pride and goals are the ones who continue to work in their time off…”

The following Letter to the Editor discussing a specific type of indiscipline currently plaguing West Indies cricket was submitted to Wired868 by Choy Aping:

Photo: West Indies opening batsman Evin Lewis has not taken a fitness test or represented the ‘Maroon Men’ since the November 2021 ICC T20 World Cup.
(Copyright CWI Media)

If players are on retainer contracts and aren’t even inspired to at least maintain the CWI fitness standards, which are now a requirement for selection, then I say scrap that whole retainer contract scheme.

Instead, let us select based on fitness, performance and availability, and incorporate some of the money into match fees which will ensure players continue to make themselves available for WI duty while investing the rest in U-14, U-15 and U-17 development.

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Evin Lewis is not the first player to be under CWI retainer contract yet fail either to make himself available for the required fitness test or to pass said test.

Roston Chase, Shimron Hetmyer, Sheldon Cottrell and Oshane Thomas are other CWI retainer contractees who have all been guilty of failing the compulsory CWI fitness test.

Taking into consideration the way our teams have been performing and the fact that players who hold central contracts with CWI do turn up but still fail the regulation fitness test, it looks more and more like a waste of money for CWI to continue to invest in these senior players through retainer contracts.

Photo: Guyana Harpy Eagles batsman Shimron Hetmyer drives through the off-side during West Indies Championship action against the Windward Islands at the Queen’s Park Oval on 10 February 2022.
(Copyright Daniel Prentice/ Wired868)

If players won’t take pride in their own personal fitness as professional sportsmen, then what guarantees are there that they will perform to the best of their abilities while in maroon?

It is no surprise that the fans find themselves wondering why, despite showing the talent to perform at the highest level, our players are so inconsistent. They also wonder why, with every step forward WI take, we always appear to take two steps backward. Why WI Cricket is cemented near the bottom of the table in every format.

Why WI players can’t seem to bat for the full 90 overs in a day’s play. Why on so many occasions, WI have the upper hand in a match and then just gift the advantage to the opposition.

The answers are all in here: lack of fitness, lack of pride, lack of passion, lack of discipline and lack of ambition to represent WI.

As the governing body of WI cricket, CWI has to shoulder the blame for the nonsense arrangement whereby players collect a monthly salary from the board and, when selection time comes around, turn up and fail a fitness test.

Photo: Cricket West Indies (CWI) director of cricket and former West Indies Test and ODI player Jimmy Adams.
(via Cricbuzz)

I’ve been asking this question time and time again: what does CWI have in place to ensure those players in whom investments have been made, in the form of retainer contracts, continue to work on their game in their time off from international duties?

If players who are collecting a monthly salary from the board are indeed turning up and failing the fitness test, is it not fair to conclude that they are just collecting the money and could not care less if Sunday falls on a Monday? It seems fair to say that only those who have personal pride and goals are the ones who continue to work in their time off.

So I say that we should scrap the retainer contracts and invest in grassroots development. But if CWI is determined to continue to centrally contract players, then I have some suggestions to improve accountability for the money that is being spent.

In their retainer contracts for the next cycle, CWI should include clauses stipulating that if a player fails the CWI mandated yo-yo test without justifiable cause (injury or illness), that will amount to a breach of said contract and will be grounds for immediate termination.

Instead of having a fixed time and date for the yoyo test, CWI should do it randomly for centrally contracted players.

Photo: Members of the West Indies team go through the pre-match formalities at the 2021 T20 World Cup in the UAE.

Through territorial boards and their franchise coaches, we should put things in place to have centrally contracted players turn up at least twice a week when away from international duties to work on their game and fitness.

We really cannot keep doing the same things over and over and expect different results.

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