WI Cricket – dumb and dumber
CLR James and the likes of Learie Constantine and Frank Worrell must be turning in their graves over the way in which the game of cricket is being treated in this Caribbean of ours. They would be unable to understand and accept what transpires for leadership of the sport in the region and be decidedly disappointed in the quality of the players of today, not only in respect of their cricketing skills but also in respect of what appears to be their understanding of the importance of the game for us in the Caribbean.
The West Indies Players Association (WIPA)has an interesting history. Established in 1973 with Rohan Kanhai as President and Deryck Murray as Secretary, Garfield Sobers and Lance Gibbs the fledgling organisation sought to become the official representative organisation of the players who make the West Indies Cricket team.
According to WIPA, in the very beginning players were hesitant to join the organisation because it was perceived as a trade union of players and also because of some veiled threats that seemed to suggest that membership could bring one’s career to an early and abrupt end.
The authorities of the game in the Caribbean appeared to have considered the decision of the players to establish WIPA as an affront to themselves and their leadership.
The small group of founding members were however clear that it was necessary to establish an organisation that represented their interests. They were aware of several former players who had played for the regional side for several years and who left with nothing more than a handshake. Injured players had to take care of themselves and meet all related expenses.
Over the years, however, WIPA has established itself as a permanent feature on the cricketing landscape of the Caribbean just as similar organisations have done in test-playing nations around the world.
It was always to be expected that the initial antipathy between the WIPA and the West Indies Cricket Board would be difficult to resolve even in the long term and this proved to be the case.
Kanhai, Courtney Walsh and Dinanath Ramnarine, all former WIPA presidents, have all been engaged in battles with the WICB in the interest of the players. The roughest period would have been the WIPA years under Ramnarine’s stewardship. Interesting though he and WIPA won virtually all of the cases that went to arbitration, a feature that served to endear the organisation to the players on the team at the time as well as those desirous and hopeful of making the team in the future.
The current president of WIPA, Wavell Hinds, has thus far not shown himself to be too eager to engage in the kind of bruising battles characteristic of his former colleagues.
One has to understand the history of the WICB in order to appreciate though not necessarily agree with the stances its members have adopted in relation to WIPA over the years.
In many respects the WICB has been operating much like a relic of colonialism that has yet to shed itself of the legacy associated with the cruel system that once dominated the world and was particularly harsh on the peoples of the Caribbean.
The WICB, much like governments in the Caribbean, seem to eagerly speak about change and modernisation on one hand while behaving in the same authoritarian manner of its predecessors, on the other hand.
The two organisations – WIPA and the WICB – are yet to reach truly common ground and an understanding of and appreciation for what the game ought to mean for the current generation of Caribbean people.
Walkout in India
In the recent past we have had the spectre of the players on the West Indies literally walking out on the West Indies’ tour of India at a time when the cricket authorities in that country, BCCI, stood to rake in millions of dollars from a successful tournament.
We have been told that the players’ decision was precipitated by the WICB’s sending of contracts that did not meet the agreed position of the elite players.
Much of the regional and international debate has circulated around whether or not the players should have acted in the way they did.
There seems to have been some agreement amongst analysts that there was enough blame to place on both sides – WICB and the players. Interestingly, WIPA was lambasted by the players for failing to act appropriately and with much dispatch on their behalf. This has left WIPA being perceived as a toothless tiger today, in stark contrast to what obtained before when it was a very confident and strident adversary acting on behalf of its members.
Whether WIPA will re-emerge from the fracas with some modicum of respectability as far as the players are concerned is anybody’s guess.
Importantly, the fracas that occurred in India led to the BCCI insisting on due compensation. Those who understood the timing of the series and the revenue potential of it have no qualms in appreciating BCCI’s position.
It is unfortunate that a financially strapped WICB did not give due consideration to what they ought to have done regarding the players’ complaints once the latter received their contracts while in India.
For their part the players acted in their own interest and left WIPA a near-moribund organisation chided for acting in a manner that seemed all too favourable to the wishes and dictates of the WICB.
Some years ago the Prime Minister of St Vincent and the Grenadines seemingly arranged for a private plane to fly to another Caribbean country to bring Chris Gayle to St Vincent where he would meet with him and others with the intention of brokering a deal that was designed to mend fences and have Gayle rejoin the West Indies team. Gayle was brought back as the WICB bought into the deal that was brokered.
Gonsalves may well have felt that his intervention was duly approved as the WICB allowed itself to accept the brokered deal.
When the fracas with the players and the WICB led to the walkout in India and the BCCI’s appeal for compensation Gonsalves again intervened. He may well have emerged from the dialogue believing yet again that he had succeeded in his mission. This time though the WICB opted to show that it is in charge of the sport of cricket in the Caribbean and is really answerable to its regional constituents on the one hand and to the International Cricket Council on the other.
The decision of the selectors to omit some of the players who had been deemed instrumental in what transpired in India appears to have cut deep into the confidence that Gonsalves had following his initial dialogue with the players and the WICB. His tirade on the WICB was really uncalled for while it reflected his own lack of understanding of and appreciation for the structure of international cricket.
Indeed his seeming ranting appears to reflect a failure to understand the dynamics of the structure and administration of the sport in the Caribbean.
Interestingly, Gonsalves’ fuming over the selectors’ decision extended to a seeming call for the removal of the WICB’s president, again reflective of his lack of understanding of how the system works.
Does the Prime Minister of St Vincent and the Grenadines have the right to intervene in the affairs of the WICB or any sporting body for that matter to the extent if being seen as calling for the president’s removal?
Should sporting organisations be the playthings of Prime Ministers to the point where they can dictate who leads them?
The WICB has denied the accusations levelled at it by Gonsalves but are they necessarily speaking the truth?
We must also remember that the WICB’s choice of Clive Lloyd to head the selectors at this juncture is itself a sudden turn of fortunes. Not so long ago Lloyd was involved with the Guyana government’s seeming attempt at replacing the legitimate governing body for cricket in that country with one of their own, a decision that the WICB strongly rejected.
The BCCI is holding out on its claims for compensation from the WICB and the WIPA may well be wondering just how much damage is has been exposed to amongst the region’s players given its role in the India fracas.
Even as the WICB denies the accusations of Gonsalves, it must be remembered that Chris Gayle made his own views known by suggesting that there may well have been victimisation of the players who were not selected, primarily Dwayne Bravo and Kieron Pollard.
Not to be outdone the WICB has apparently indicated that it will haul Gayle before its disciplinary committee for his comments. That is likely to once more enrage WIPA and the senior players and create another impasse.
But the incompetence of the shakers and movers in the aforementioned scenarios is thick and is everywhere evident.
In a BBC article dated 22 February 2015 the WICB president is said to have retweeted a fans’ criticism of Gayle during the match against Pakistan in the current World Cup. Cameron’s tweet stated in part, Gayle goes… Can’t buy a run. Let’s give him a retirement package…
Of course the tweet from the WICB president earned the ire of WIPA that immediately expressed its disappointment. Not sure why they should have been surprised by the idiotic comment.
Cameron then removed the tweet and commented… No offence intended. Full apologies extended. Rally round the West Indies.
By the time Cameron sought to apologise the damage had already been done.
Chalkdust the calypsonian must have been correct when he sang, Dem people laughing at we.
Indeed Cameron’s comment has already reverberated around the world in much the same manner as Gonsalves’ made some time ago.
The cricketing world must be laughing at what has become of West Indies cricket. They must be amazed at the way in which politicians seem only too anxious to add to the disarray of the sport in the Caribbean.
Are they wrong?
Indeed people must be wondering of cricket in the Caribbean is part of the comedy, Dumb and Dumber.