Players strike on day one of regional competition

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, CMC – All three matches in the 11th round of the West Indies Cricket Board’s regional four-day competition will begin today, officials confirmed yesterday.

This follows industrial action by the players involved in the three matches, as well as a protest in the first of five One-day International between West Indies and England in Guyana triggered by the West Indies Players’ Association(WIPA), after its President and Chief Executive Officer Dinanath Ramnarine quit on Thursday as a director of the WICB.

But the players’ body had relented and agreed to meet with the WICB next Tuesday and Wednesday in Barbados by the time appointed for the scheduled close had it been a full day of action in the regional competition.

“WIPA representatives. . .will be attending the meeting to resolve all outstanding issues,” said a news release from the players’ organization. “As a result, WIPA in good faith has instructed its members regional and international to proceed with their respective fixtures and obligations pending the outcome of our meeting in Barbados.”

The decision came following intense discussions between Ramnarine and WICB President Julian Hunte, following the resignation of the WIPA boss the previous day claiming that his position had become untenable because of the governing body’s lack of movement on several key player issues.

In the regional competition, front-runners Jamaica were to face Combined Campuses & Colleges at Sabina Park in Jamaica, second-placed Windward Islands were to meet Trinidad & Tobago at the Arnos Vale Sports Complex in St. Vincent, and third-placed Barbados were set to tackle Leeward Islands at the North Stars Social & Cultural Club in Barbados. Officials in the three match venues were informed late yesterday by the WICB that the matches will start a day later than scheduled. Also, West Indies players taking part in the first ODI at the Guyana National Stadium wore duct tape over the Digicel logo on their right sleeves to show solidarity.

But the players had switched the duct tape to their other sleeve which does not bare the logo of the team sponsor following a rain delay in the ODI.

Ramnarine was appointed as a director of the WICB two years ago under Hunte in a move that was widely acclaimed, following a number of bruising battles with the regional governing body. But the former West Indies leg-spinner said he was forced to leave the WICB position to protest the governing body’s failure to deal with the issue of retainer contracts and first-class fees, injury payments to players, non implementation of updated anti-doping policy and the non-payment of players for the recently concluded New Zealand series.

Hunte, who was attending the ODI in Guyana, said he first got word of the industrial action just hours before the start of play. He also disclosed that he had spoken to Ramnarine and it was important the WICB also meet with the players – not just their representatives – next week.

“We understand that WIPA has identified a number of areas that we feel about which they feel aggrieved, and have arranged a meeting for Barbados on Tuesday to resolve all outstanding issues,” he told CMC Sports Wire.

“It will be premature for us to speak about the issues that have been submitted for our consideration.

“But I believe we will also want the players to be in attendance at the meeting on Tuesday because things have reached the stage where we need to involve them so that they can hear both sides.”

This is the second time that WIPA has successfully staged a strike in the regional first-class competition.

Six years ago, they similarly staged a strike having called play off because of issues with the WICB.

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