By Cosmo Hamilton
With a focused, feisty, furious skipper Dwayne Bravo literally leading from the front, a typically unpredictable West Indies team turned a dire situation into a hearty triumph as they fashioned one of their more convincing limited over victories in recent times, winning by 124 runs against a likely over-confident world champion India team in the town of Kochi, nestled just beyond the verdant hills of Kerala in beautiful south India on Wednesday.
Many of the faithful back home in the Caribbean went to bed on the night of October 7 with heavy hearts having been blind-sided several hours before with the news of a full-fledged labour dispute between the West Indies team just fully assembled for an important tour of India on the one side and the leadership of the West Indies Players Association (WIPA) and the WICB on the other, with threatened strike action that would most certainly have precipitated a monsoon that would have washed away the promise of a much anticipated new day in West Indies cricket.
Ironically, it was the underpinning of this supposed new era – the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) and the Memorandum Of Understanding (MOU) recently signed between WIPA, represented by its president former Jamaica and West Indies opening batsman Wavell Hinds, and the WICB president fellow Jamaican Dave Cameron that are the bone of contention.
West Indies fans would have been pleased on September 18 last at the sight of Hinds and Cameron shaking hands and flashing broad grins at the signing of the agreement as they were pictured in the media and on the WICB website. Cameron then hailed the signing as a “new partnership which will take regional cricket forward.” Further bolstering the significance of the CBA and the MOU agreement it was reported that Director of Cricket of the WICB Richard Pybus and WICB convenor of selectors Clive Lloyd were present at the signing.
After the acrimony and rancor that were the feature of the relationship between the previous administrations of the WIPA led by Dinanath Ramnarine and the WICB under President Julian Hunte and his Chief Executive Officer and countryman Dr. Ernest Hilaire that inhibited the growth of West Indies cricket, the new hierarchy that promised a culture of cooperation and enlightened leadership appeared to be a breath of fresh air. Indeed this writer posited the notion that with the independently appointed WICB CEO Michael Muirhead, WICB President Dave Cameron and WIPA President Wavell Hinds to complete the Jamaican troika, the stars were aligned for the advancement of West Indies cricket amicably and with purpose.
But now there is discord within the family and some dirty laundry has been exposed. West Indies player representative and ODI captain, the usually affable Trinidadian Dwayne Bravo obviously dissatisfied with the MOU and the compensation of the players he now leads unleashed a scathing attack on Hinds. Known for his slick dance moves featuring his idol the late King of Pop – Michael Jackson’s moonwalk, the West Indies allrounder was in no dancing mood in Kochi, but sounded off unequivocally in ‘MJ’ fashion none the less with his 70’s hit song ‘Beat It’ directed at the WIPA.
Bravo, in no uncertain terms has called for the ‘unconditional resignation of Wavell Hinds and other officials with immediate effect’. And one is left to wonder what was the level of transparency that characterized the negotiation of the CBA and the MOU between the WIPA and the WICB, always a key element in collective bargaining, and how clear were the channels of communication between the negotiating parties and the rank and file, and did the rank and file legally ratify the final agreement.
However, it was admirable to see that under difficult conditions and in a foreign land, Bravo and the West Indies team and the tour management embrace the big picture – so to speak, and proceeded with the first ODI against India with such fervor and focus even as they were bombarded with adversity – first the loss of their key spinner Sunil Narine, whose bowling action was deemed illegal by the ICC umpires during the IPL Champions League; secondly, the embarrassing losses to the India A teams in both warm up games; and not least the vexing labor dispute between the players, the WIPA and the WICB that looms large as the tour progresses.
And so in the aftermath of the first ODI which should have featured a healthy discussion about batsmanship, and how Marlon Samuels got his groove back, one is left to ponder the brinksmanship in Kochi that somehow brought out the best in Bravo and company.