BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, CMC – Attorney Ralph Thorne has accused the West Indies Cricket Board of breaking its promise to issue a statement making it clear that the players involved in the controversial abandoned India tour, would not have been victimised.
Thorne, a high profile Queen’s Counsel who represented most of the players during the recent impasse with the WICB and players union, WIPA, said the board had given its word following a meeting between the parties in Trinidad but had failed to follow through.
With no assurance coming from the board, Thorne said this paved the way for players to be targeted. This, he argued, was reflected in the selection of the 15-man squad for the one-day tour of South Africa next month with Dwayne Bravo axed as captain and dropped from the squad, and Kieron Pollard and Darren Sammy also overlooked.
Fast bowler Jason Holder, who has replaced Bravo as skipper, was also on the tour of India but Thorne said while he had been spared, the senior trio had not been as fortunate.
“While Jason himself has not been victimised, the three gentlemen have been victimised. We left the Hyatt Hotel (in Trinidad) with the WICB promising not to victimise. We left the Hyatt Hotel with the WICB promising to issue a statement saying that they would not victimise the players. To this day, they have refused to issue that statement,” Thorne charged in an interview with CBC Sports Radio here.
“Now that refusal speaks volumes. Is it to say that they did not wish to say publicly something they intended to do in any event? This is cynical and an insidious form of victimisation visited on these three players.”
However, investigations by CMC Sports revealed that the problem with the release of a statement on the issue stemmed from the inability of the parties to agree on the appropriate language to be used. A WICB official, who requested anonymity, told CMC Sports this lack of agreement had frustrated the process.
“The WICB had every intention of issuing a joint statement with both the players represented at the meeting [in Trinidad] and WIPA but regrettably an agreement on suitable language could not be reached in spite of several days of drafting and re-drafting,” the official said.
“There is documented evidence of a slew of emails back and forth attempting to reach agreement on the joint statement but a final version did not come to fruition due to the inability of the parties to reach agreement on a mutually agreeable version.” The absence of Bravo, Sammy and Pollard has been a major talking point, since the squad was announced by the WICB on Saturday. Among them, the players boast 370 One-Day Internationals although their records are all unflattering.
While no explanation were given for their omission, chief selector Clive Lloyd said in regards to the captaincy, that his selection panel had decided it was the right time to look to more youthful leadership. Holder, 23, has played only 23 One-Day Internationals and a single Test, but is widely regarded as having strong leadership qualities, and had been tipped for captaincy in the future.
Thorne said while legal action was not currently on the cards, he believed the WICB needed to explain its actions in relation to the identified players.
“I have to ask the WICB – since I believe in doing things in the proper manner in the realm of public law – to give explanation for its conduct. I [also] believe there is room for further recourse within the channels of the International Cricket Council,” Thorne said.
“This is a very awkward time to contemplate legal proceedings. I’m not trigger happy and I don’t think that the players are trigger happy. Of course, the ideal recourse is to continue to play good cricket – these three gentlemen – to continue to represent the region with pride and in spite of the adversity, to do all that is required of them on the cricket field and cooperate with the proper rules as they apply to cricket.”
He said he had spoken to the affected players, all of whom were upset by the recent developments.
“Obviously they are disappointed. Obviously they are somewhat devastated but we trust that the way forward is going to give us some kind of an outcome that will serve the best interests of all West Indians who love cricket.”
Windies players walked off the one-day tour of India last October in protest over the terms of the new Collective Bargaining Agreement. Their actions led to a flurry of meetings between themselves, the WICB and WIPA, which also involved St Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves.