So the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) is in damage control mode once again, this time attempting to mend fences with the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) one of the behemoths of International cricket.
The BCCI appears in no mood to play games off the field and are seriously considering suing the WICB for $65 million dollars to recover the losses accrued as a result of the misguided, ill-conceived, abrupt abandonment of their recent tour of India by the Dwayne Bravo-led West Indies team after the 4th ODI at Dharamsala, aborting the itinerary with one ODI, a single T20 and three Test matches left to be played.
Not even the usual calming aura of the iconic presence of the Dalai Lama who met the West Indies team at Dharamsala before the match could have influenced a sober response from the disgruntled captain and his team.
With Bravo and his men electing to air their dirty laundry in such unsophisticated fashion, the scenario involving the WICB and the West Indies Players Association (WIPA) has taken on the appearance of a sordid TV reality show which instead of earning the main actors dubious accolades and awards could land the Board in bankruptcy, and the mercenary players rudderless and with no agency. One is reminded of the words of the late Prime Minister of Jamaica Michael Manley who wrote in his book ‘A History of West Indies Cricket’ published in 1988 – “Cricket is the most completely regional activity undertaken by the people of the member states of the Caribbean Community, CARICOM. It is also the most successful co-operative endeavor and, as such, is a constant reminder to a people of otherwise wayward insularity of the value of collaboration.”
Not even the perspicacious late Jamaican leader could have anticipated the disarray and precipitous decline of his beloved West Indies cricket in this 21st century that has now reached a nadir, making a mockery of his observation 25 years ago. Evidently the dominance of the IPL and its spin-offs worldwide have changed international cricket forever with some negative effects underpinned by the money grab. Players now benefitting from lucrative contracts mainly from the IPL and other such entities around the cricket world seem no longer obligated to show any sense of loyalty to their respective Boards that initially gave them a platform for exposure and a vehicle for expression on the world stage.
As a consequence players are now empowered to summarily demand resignations of those who represent them, and take unilateral actions that disregard the integrity of West Indies cricket and disrespect the people of the Caribbean. And it is reasonable to assume that Convenor of Selectors of the WICB Clive Lloyd’s call for player-loyalty to West Indies cricket has fallen on deaf ears. It is a position that is not likely to change anytime soon particularly in light of the fact that the IPL would not take any punitive action against West Indies players contracted in their league that were involved in the aborted Indian tour, rather they have laid the blame squarely at the feet of the WICB.
And for the Windies culpability in this fiasco the BCCI, along with their threatened lawsuit, has announced a suspension of bilateral tours between India and the West Indies. Needless to say if effected these actions would doubtless have severe consequences on the financially strapped WICB in particular and on West Indies cricket in general.
So thanks to the actions of Dwayne Bravo and his phalanx and the inaction of President Dave Cameron who just weeks ago thought that he had experienced a watershed moment in the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding and the Collective Bargaining Agreement with the WIPA, the regional Board is left with no choice but to endure the embarrassment of going with hat in hand to the BCCI to plead for leniency and to assure them that the West Indies team would never again so unceremoniously end a tour of India.
That considerable humiliation along with the political and economic fallout that is imminent is punishment enough for the WICB, which despite the change in leadership, continues to lurch from crisis to crisis. In addition, based on impending negotiations with the leadership of the senior West Indies team and the WIPA, the Board might be forced in short order to find an alternative source of funding for the new regional first class franchise system organized by its Director of Cricket Richard Pybus, soon to be underway.
For his poor judgment in leadership and his role as player representative in terminating the tour of India and leading his ODI squad back to the Caribbean prematurely without due care and consideration of the calamitous consequences of such action, Dwayne Bravo should be relieved of the captaincy of the team forthwith. Wicketkeeper Denesh Ramdin should be named captain of the ODI team with immediate effect.