Cricket was known as a gentleman’s game, but with the advent of 20/20 matches and the hundreds of millions of dollars being paid out by sponsors and the big bucks earned by the players, it seems to me that it is more business rather than a sport. The players cast aside their whites for colourful garb as they battle against their opponents to earn more and more and, at the same time, to entertain their spectators not only in the pavilions, but television screens over the cricketing world.
And while there is a transformation of the sport to a more business enterprise, there are several lawsuits being filed for judges to make the determination rather than Cricket Boards or Associations. Top high-priced lawyers have been engaged in these court battles rather than encounters in the cricket fields. The latest is the three selectors of Cricket West Indies, Courtney Browne, Lockhart Sebastien and Eldine Baptiste, who were sacked by the new executive of Cricket West Indies, have retained a prominent Caribbean Senior Counsel, Tony Astaphan, to represent them, complaining that they were wrongfully removed, contrary to the Antigua and Barbuda Labour Code since they are independent contractors. Assistant Coach Vasbert Drakes has also threatened legal action against the Ricky Skerritt administration.
In Guyana, there is a longstanding dispute between the Berbice Cricket Board (BCB) and the Guyana Cricket Board (GCB), which ended up in the courts and a hearing in April 2015, before the then acting Chief Justice Ian Chang ruled that the Cricket Board Act be held in abeyance. However, attorney for the BCB, Arun Gossai, made a successful bid before Justice Fidela Corbin last month, who ruled that the GCB was/is operating illegally.
India’s Cricket Board had decided to take legal action against the West Indies Board for $42 million after the Windies players’ abrupt pullout during a tour of India. The Caribbean players have been at loggerheads with the Cricket Board for years and the West Indies Players Association (WIPA) had filed a US$20 million lawsuit against the Board. Former Barbados and West Indies opening batsman, Desmond Haynes, had sued the Barbados Cricket Association and the West Indies Board for loss of wages. The matter was resolved after he was appointed batting consultant.
It is said that cricket is a big business and should be operated in a like manner and not like a big boys’ friendship club. Meanwhile, dissatisfaction continues in the region over the selection of players. The Windies up to today, has not named its 15 players for the World Cup in the UK. The first match will be played in Nottingham against Pakistan on May 31 – less than six weeks away. Former captain Brian Lara predicts that West Indies will be a surprise element and will end up in the semi-final.