T&T lose Pollard, Bravo for Champions League

(Trinidad Express) It’s official!
All-rounders Kieron Pollard and Dwayne Bravo will not represent Trinidad and Tobago at the 2011 Nokia Champions League T20 tournament in India in September.

After months of rumours, speculation and uncertainty over the players’ status for the tournament, Minister of Sport Anil Roberts finally announced on Wednesday that the duo will play for their respective Indian Premier League (IPL) teams—Pollard with Mumbai Indians and Bravo with 2011 IPL champions, Chennai Super Kings.

During a media conference yesterday, called by Roberts to announce the news, the Minister blamed the T&T Cricket Board’s (TTCB) “incompetence and the lack of notification, lack of consultation and information sharing, lack of courtesy and professionalism”, and not the players actions, for Pollard’s and Bravo’s unavailability.

Anil Roberts

And for what he termed “deceiving” the Sport Minister and Government of Trinidad and Tobago, as well as for the poor handling of the recent National League restructuring issue, Roberts has called for Azim Bassarath to resign as TTCB president.
The Minister accused Bassarath of repeatedly misleading him up to as late as Tuesday, by continually stating that the Board was still locked in discussions with the players over their potential appearance with T&T at the lucrative T20 competition, while he knew the players were unavailable.

Roberts explained that he called a meeting with the two players on Tuesday after Bassarath repeatedly failed to provide updates on the issue.

The duo, he said, explained that they first contacted the TTCB in February after T&T qualified for the tournament a month earlier, indicating there was a possibility they might have to negotiate which team they would represent in the Champions League.

Their IPL teams qualified for the Champions League in May and in June the players told the TTCB they would forfeit 20 per cent of their contracts if they opted to play for Trinidad and Tobago. They wanted to negotiate compensation from the TTCB for the income they would have lost playing for T&T.

Roberts further said the players were not given a decision in subsequent meetings and so informed the Board on July 12 they would play for their IPL teams, just three days before the July 15 deadline that teams were given to name their provisional squads for the tournament.

“It is a very emotional issue and I do not want the population to get the wrong message and believe that Kieron Pollard and Dwayne Bravo do not want to play for their country,” Roberts said. “The truth is rather alarming and illustrates how important administrative professionalism is in this country.”

If he had been informed of the matter earlier on, Roberts said, he would have ensured the cricketers would represent T&T, even if the Ministry had to partially reimburse the players.  But in subsequent conversations with Bassarath—the last being on Tuesday—the Minister said the TTCB head continued to tell him the Board was still negotiating with the players.

T&T captain Daren Ganga and West Indies Players Association (WIPA) president and CEO Dinanath Ramnarine were also yesterday unaware of the status of the players, Roberts said.

Furthermore, although Roberts is due to go to Cabinet today to confirm the release of funds for the national team’s trip to India, he alleged that the TTCB also neglected to inform him that the IPL teams were obligated to compensate the local Board US$150,000 for each player.

Roberts said this information only came to light after he contacted the IPL teams for clarification and a copy of the players’ contracts.

“…For not consulting, for taking decisions and trying to hold the Government to ransom for something that we do not know about, for not providing information at any time…for telling untruths to the Minister of Sport and Youth Affairs and the permanent secretary and the adviser, for keeping us in the dark…I humbly suggest that Mr Azim Bassarath step down and allow somebody else who is more professional, more honest, more forthcoming to run Trinidad and Tobago’s cricket.”

Roberts also slammed Bassarath on the TTCB National League restructuring proposal, saying while clause 5.2 of the document indicated the proposal hinged on $4.5 million funding from Government, the Ministry had never been consulted on the matter.
“I was shocked to say the least,” Roberts declared, “because while you do not have to consult with me to restructure the League, you have to consult with the Ministry and the Minister if you intend to increase the amount of money you are allocated from the Government coffers.”

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