Gayle threatens player boycott of St. Lucia ODI

The West Indies captain was speaking ahead of the fourth ODI today at Kensington Oval and admitted his disappointment with the way negotiations have unfolded between the West Indies Players’ Association (WIPA), the players’ bargaining unit, and the WICB.

“I can say straight up that a boycott is a real possibility,” Gayle told reporters yesterday. “I am not going to go all around the World. I am going to say it plainly, ‘we need to have these matters resolved before the end of the series’, so we can forget about all of these disputes.”

He added: “I am a professional. Once I step onto the field, I will be ready to play cricket. At the same time, when you have to deal issues, we need to deal with them.

“I am disappointed with the way things have been handled. I think they are still trying to bypass WIPA, and it is we, the players, that are instructing WIPA about what we want at this point in time.

“This is not a case, where WIPA goes off on its own and introduces these sorts of things. We, the players, have asked for these changes, so basically from a contractual point-of-view, WIPA are the ones to sort them out, but I am disappointed from what I hear.

“There are a lot of rumours out there, and they want to make WIPA look bad, and WIPA is not a bad thing, so we are very disappointed and will play this game on Sunday and see what happens in the next couple of days after this.”

WIPA and WICB held intense negotiations during a two-day meeting earlier this week in Barbados to settle a number of issues including terms and conditions, as well as outstanding match fee payments for members of the West Indies team for previous matches.

This followed the resignation of WIPA President Dinanath Ramnarine as a director of the WICB claiming his position had become untenable because of the WICB’s lack of movement on several key players issues, and a one-day strike by players in the regional first-class competition.

Gayle explained he had to renege on earlier assurances that there would be no further protest action, following the latest round of discussions with Ramnarine.

The West Indies players failed to show up for a planned cocktail reception two days before the first ODI in Guyana, and wore duct tape over the sponsors’ logo on the sleeves of their uniforms during the match.

But Gayle said his side was now quite willing to step up their protest action and not show up for the match at the Beausejour Cricket Ground.

“There was a lot of speculation before the [third ODI] about whether the game was going on,” he said.

“I know that I said I was looking forward to the game and so on and so forth. At the same time, we are disappointed in the manner in which things have been handled.

“I would like to point out that I had not spoken to Ramnarine before attending the news conference [last Thursday], and when I got the feedback [from him], I got some disappointing news. It is not too good.”

Gayle was shocked to see media articles that he felt had tarnished his name, and about him choosing the Indian Premier League over an unscheduled tour to England in May.

“The players have come to me and are disappointed to see their names out there in the media tarnished,” he said “It is not good. It is not right.

“The arrangement was that there was to be no comments regarding the negotiations, but we see these comments coming out, trying to get the public against us, which I think will not happen. But we are all big men and we all have to make our own decisions.”

He continued: “Up to this day, no one has really come to me about playing in the IPL. But there is word on the street that there is a two-week window, and I could then fly to England.

“At some stage, they should actually discuss it with me, but they still have not come to me yet, even though I have said this of my own volition.”

Gayle disclosed that there would be further dialogue between WIPA and WICB, and was confident that a compromise could be reached that would allow the final ODI to take place as scheduled.

“It’s true there are a lot of issues,” he said. “At some point though, we should reach some sort of an agreement, rather than make us feel that things would be okay, and when the series is over, we might never get it sorted out.

“This is right time. We are looking for some guarantee to make sure that things can be resolved, and later on, after the tour, we can finish the dispute.”

Gayle identified a proposed new fee structure for players in the regional first-class competition as the single-most important issue.

The WICB issued a statement on Friday outlining that it had planned to allocate 22 per cent of its annual revenue to player payments, and to increase fees of first-class players from a US $300 to US $1,000.

The regional governing body said the offer was part of a comprehensive proposal which it submitted to WIPA for consideration during their meeting last week.
“It is more about
the first-class players than it is the international players,” Gayle said. “We need a better structure. . .We want everybody to benefit from this.

“It is not about us who are playing for West Indies. It is about the first-class players. This has been going on for years and it is about time some amount of progress is actually made.

“There are guys that have played first-class cricket in the Caribbean for so many years and have nothing to show for it. You have to play for West Indies to actually be able to make some sort of a living which is very disappointing.”

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