West Indies call off India tour, Sri Lanka fill void with five ODIs

BCCI announces five-match ODI series with Sri Lanka at home in the wake of West Indies Cricket Board's sudden decision to wind up its ongoing tour after the completion of the Dharamsala ODI

Dharamsala:In an extraordinary turn of events, the West Indies cricket team on Friday pulled out of the remaining part of its India tour in the wake of an acrimonious ongoing pay dispute with their Board, prompting a livid BCCI to rope in Sri Lanka for a five-match ODI series.

The aggrieved Caribbean players were persuaded to take the field for the fourth ODI but have conveyed their decision to call off the remaining part of tour to the BCCI, which is now contemplating legal action against the visitors.

"The West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) has informed the BCCI of its decision to cancel the rest of its ongoing tour to India because of a dispute with its players, and has advised the BCCI that its players will return home immediately," BCCI Secretary Sanjay Patel said.

"The reason given by WICB is that there were internal issues among their boys. The BCCI will be going to ICC and 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," Patel said.

West Indies

West Indies players during a practice session before the 2nd ODI at New Delhi. Photo: PTI

"The BCCI is shocked and extremely disappointed at the decision taken by the WICB. The WICB's inability to resolve
internal issues with its players and allowing the same to affect an ongoing bilateral series does not reflect well on any of those involved. The withdrawal gives little thought to the future of the game, the players and the long standing relations between the BCCI and the WICB," a strongly-worded statement from the BCCI said. 

Hours after the sudden development, the BCCI managed to persuade Sri Lanka to play a five-match ODI series, which is likely to be held from November 1 to 15. 

A top BCCI official said that it was decided to play only the ODIs, keeping in mind the upcoming World Cup in Australia and New Zealand. 

"Scheduling a Test series at such a short notice would have been difficult for us since the team has to leave for Australia shortly. So it was decided to have an ODI series, which will help the team for the World Cup," the official

Venues which were deprived of the matches -- Kolkata, Cuttack, Hyderabad, Bangalore and Ahmedabad -- are likely to be alloted the One-dayers. The BCCI will announce the fixtures in the next few days.

The BCCI made it clear that the decision to pull out was taken unilaterally by the West Indies Board and its players inspite of several appeals to them to honour the commitment.

"The BCCI wishes to inform all its stakeholders, especially ardent fans of the Indian cricket team, that this is a unilateral decision taken by the WICB and its players, in spite of several appeals to the WICB to honour its commitment and complete the series," Patel said.

"The BCCI will pursue all options available to protect its rights, whilst seeking appropriate action from the ICC to ensure that its interests and those of the game at large will not suffer any damage due to such acts of indiscretion," he said.

"It was only after my persuasion they agreed to play today's match. They were hell bent on not to play and leave for home tomorrow," BCCI Joint Secretary Anurag Thakur said. 

The West Indies were scheduled to play one more ODI in Kolkata on Monday and a Twenty20 in Cuttack on October 22. 

They were also scheduled to play three Test matches in Hyderabad (Oct 30-Nov 3), Bangalore (Nov 7-11) and Ahmedabad (Nov 15-19).

The repercussion of the Caribbean players' move to abandon the tour could have long term implications as many of
the them are popular players in India and play in the cash-rich IPL, owned by the BCCI. 

The crisis broke out on the eve of the first ODI in Kochi when the players threatened to boycott the match in protest against the contract, handed out to them by the WICB.

Although the players competed in that match, they had made it clear that their decision should not in any way be construed as an acceptance by the players of the unreasonable terms and conditions put forward to us by WICB. They had said it was not an acceptance of the purported new Memorandum of Understanding, Bravo had said in a letter to Players' Association chief Wavell Hinds.

"The Players will not accept any agreement it has had no input in, did not give its consent to and which would infringe on its rights. We reserve all of our rights and intend to seek independent advice so as to establish the players best course of action," the letter said.

The new contracts would see Caribbean players' pay go down by approximately 75 per cent. The contracts were given to the players after they reached India. 

The players are also disgruntled with the West Indies Players Association president and chief executive Wavell Hinds for agreeing to the terms without consulting them. 

According to reports, the players claimed Hinds "hoodwinked" them and did not take their inputs while signing a new MoU with West Indies Cricket Board last month, under which they would suffer a significant cut in their pay.

As per the new MoU, the players "understand" their Test, ODI and T20 fees "have been decreased by 75 per cent"; that they will receive "no compensation for the use of our rights. That has been decreased by 100 per cent"; and their ICC fees have been "decreased by close to 100 per cent".

The players said they were being kept in the dark about the "purported agreement". Bravo and his team-mates insisted that they want the old structure back as the new one is "significantly different from what we received in the past." 

This is not first time that the players are locked in a pay dispute with the WICB. The players have threatened to go
on strike in those instances as well but have ultimately come around after hectic negotiations.

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