It has been almost a month since the self-centered myopic decision taken by the West Indies players aggressively led by Dwayne Bravo to abruptly abandon their tour of India due to a pay dispute. Now finally Cricket’s world governing body – the International Cricket Council (ICC ) has in no uncertain terms condemned the action by the players and laid down the law as well it should.
Unlike the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), who essentially for purposes of their US$42 million lawsuit pointed the finger of blame squarely at the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB), the ICC with no such axe to grind directed its ire and its admonition at the players, stating unequivocally – “The ICC and all of its Member Boards noted with deep disappointment the recent decision of the West Indies players to abandon an international tour without fulfilling the contractually agreed playing obligations between the WICB and the BCCI.”
And in a stern warning to not only Bravo and his misguided cohorts who undertook such a mindless ploy to abort the tour in midstream, but to any who might even consider similar action in the future, the ICC in a weighty document emanating from a recent meeting at its headquarters in Dubai, United Arab Emirates states, “Players who behave in a similar manner in the future will not only risk breaching disciplinary rules of the relevant Member Board and being sanctioned accordingly, but may also put in jeopardy their ability to conclude future contractual arrangements with domestic franchises or clubs in other jurisdictions.”
So as unapologetic as the team members involved in the fiasco appear to be, with the possible exception of Jamaican allrounder Marlon Samuels, who claimed to have been not in favor of the Windies Walkout – a position since disputed by his captain Dwayne Bravo, and T20 captain Darren Sammy, who in a recent statement from his current assignment in that genre at the Ram Jam tournament in South Africa suggested that “There should never be a situation where the on field play is stopped because of a dispute”, the players now know that in future there will be significant consequences for such actions, not the least of which would be financial.
Meanwhile apart from the release of Sir Richie Richardson as Manager and interim coach of the West Indies team, replaced by former West Indies pacer Barbadian Joel Garner, there appears to be no punitive action taken against anyone involved with the team that abruptly abandoned the India tour which has so negatively impacted West Indies cricket and thrown the 86 year old institution into a quagmire and potential bankruptcy.
It is a tactic that mimics what occurs in Baseball, Basketball, Soccer, American Football and other team sports, where front office management and owners of teams that lose consistently, in an attempt to bring about change for the better, get rid of the Head Coach rather than dismantle the entire team. But what is different about the rebellious West Indies team that perhaps warranted a different consideration is not only are they losing consistently, but they chose as a team to abandon an official tour, disrespecting their fan base, ignoring the BCCI and the multitude of Indian cricket fans in the throes of the tour, and manifesting disdain for their own Board and its official obligation.
As the team prepares to tour South Africa, convenor of selectors Clive Lloyd and his panel have chosen a team that in terms of performance would best represent the region with seven of those members who chose to leave the tour of India prematurely, included in the squad. Though this is not tacit approval by the selectors of the calamitous action concocted by those players, it underscores the importance for a financially strapped WICB to send a competitive team to contest the Proteas and garner considerable interest and income, while restoring some measure of credibility. Evidently since there has yet been no resolution to the dispute involving the players, the Board, and the West Indies Players Association (WIPA) that precipitated the Windies walkout, with the tour of South Africa on the doorstep, team members have been given a deadline by the WICB of Tuesday, November 18th by which time they must sign the very same contract that was the bone of contention on the ill-fated India tour. And so for now it is back to square one.
Notwithstanding the unsolicited if meaningful efforts of Caricom heads of government Ralph Gonsalves, Prime Minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Keith Mitchell, Prime Minister of Grenada, in my view the best bet for an amicable settlement to this dire situation lies in the reassuring statement by the Chairman of the ICC, Narayanaswami Srinivasan who said, “The ICC is working with the concerned Members towards finding a positive resolution and is confident that there will be constructive outcomes for our game.”