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India tour fiasco: WICB, players blamed for pull-out

Port of Spain: The West Indies Cricket Board, players and its union have been blamed for the India series fiasco when the team dramatically pulled out midway into the tour over a payment dispute with the board and WIPA, according to a task force set up by WICB.

The task force was set up by the West Indian board after the national team decided to discontinue the tour post playing four One-day Internationals after a pay dispute between players and the board. They were to play the fifth and final ODI, a Twenty20 match and three Tests.

Besides blaming West Indies cricket's stakeholders, the task force, headed by attorney Michael Gordon, another lawyer Richard Cheltenham and legendary former fast bowler Wes Hall, also laid out eight recommendations ranging from clear guidelines for players' contracts to appointing a team psychologist for touring parties, in order to prevent a similar debacle in future.

"There is something fundamentally wrong in sending a team to faraway places with only an historical view of their terms of employment and then to radically change those historical terms after they arrive in that distant place," said the task force report, which was made public late last night.

"Both Michael Muirhead and Dave Cameron, CEO and president, respectively of the Board, took the view that it was an enforceable contract.

"Wavell Hinds (WIPA president) on the other hand was equally firmly of the view that the September MOU was not in and of itself a contract but rather an agreed understanding that would lead to a collective bargaining agreement in much the same way as the prior MOU/CBA arrangement had worked," the task force added in its report.

"This was fundamental. It is a trite law that if two parties to a negotiation do not agree on the effect of a document coming out of these negotiations then there is no meeting of the minds and hence no enforceable contract.

"The Board and WIPA were attempting a sea-change in the financial arrangements for West Indian professional cricketers without ensuring that there was understanding and acceptance by the WICB's employees, the touring cricketers."

The report further added: "Having said the above, we are of the view that whilst WICB and WIPA can neither be accused of bad faith, they both erred significantly in failing to ensure that their vision for the future of the West Indies Cricket with its ramifications for the sharing of sponsorship money and the concomitant changes in the level of remuneration for both the senior cricketers and the new class of professional players was clearly understood and the vision shared."

The task force also held the players responsible for the termination of tour.

"A significant proportion of the blame for the termination of the tour must also lie with the players, and in particular their leaders. The tour was called off when the players refused to play the 5th ODI Oct 17. At that time according to Mr. Bravo the players knew that Mr. Cameron, and Mr. Hinds were due to come to India to meet with them on the Oct 21 some (four) days later," the report said.

"Their anxiety to bring the tour to a premature end without waiting the additional (four) days certainly suggested to the Task Force that, to use a West Indian phrase, 'there was more in the mortar than the pestle'. There was, however, no information on what the 'more' was, but that it existed, the Task Force felt certain."

The controversy prompted a livid BCCI to slap a USD 42 million damages claim on WICB.

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