Battle lines drawn in West Indies fiasco

Bridgetown, Barbados: Battle lines are being drawn in West Indies cricket between the players and administrators following the team's shock withdrawal from the tour of India.

In the wake of the unprecedented decision to abandon the campaign at the end of the fourth one-day international in Dharamsala on Friday, West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) officials are due to meet in emergency session on Tuesday to consider the ramifications of their squad's failure to fulfil a contractual obligation with the most powerful and influential organisation in the international game.

Amid speculation that the Board of Control for Cricket in India is contemplating legal action to recoup losses estimated at $65 million for the cancellation of the last ODI, a lone T20 International and three Test matches, the WICB now has to contend with first-choice players at war with their own representative body. There are also serious doubts as to whether or not the Caribbean side will be able to fulfil its upcoming international engagements which include a tour of South Africa at the end of the year followed by the World Cup in Australia and New Zealand in February and March.

In the aftermath of a decade of almost constant wrangling with the West Indies Players Association (WIPA), and more precisely its no-nonsense president and CEO Dinanath Ramnarine, the WICB is now on the side of WIPA and the new man at the helm, Wavell Hinds, in an acrimonious fallout with the players over a new Collective Bargaining Agreement/Memorandum of Understanding that was signed between Hinds and WICB boss Dave Cameron in September.

Emails leaked to the media between Dwayne Bravo, captain of the West Indies ODI squad, and Hinds reveal a claim by Bravo that the new arrangement significantly reduces international players' overall compensation packages. It is an accusation refuted by the WIPA president. In communication with Cameron that has also been made public, Bravo claimed the players in India were "disheartened and extremely disappointed" by the refusal of the WICB to abide by their decision that Hinds and his executive can no longer represent them and that they would only have continued with the tour on the basis of the previous CBA/MoU.

"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," Bravo wrote before the fourth ODI. While underlining that the actions of the players left them with no choice but to advise the BCCI of the discontinuation of the tour, the WICB, in seeking to clarify its position on the matter in a statement issued late Friday by its head of marketing and communications,

Imran Khan, referred to Bravo's use of what it described as "inflammatory language" and issuing of "a clear threat to cause injury to West Indies cricket" in initial communication with Hinds. With the BCCI's working committee also meeting on Tuesday to formalise what action, if any, will be taken against the WICB, it is quite possible that the Caribbean officials will have preliminary information from the meeting in India to inform their decision-making given the nine-and-a-half-hour time difference between Ahmedabad and Bridgetown.

Whatever the BBCI seeks to do in protection of its own financial and other interests, the confrontational tone between the WICB/WIPA and the disgruntled players in the immediate aftermath of this wholly unexpected withdrawal from a tour does not bode well for relations between these key stakeholders in West Indies cricket.

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