WI Cricket Damage Control Needed

“The West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) has settled its long-running legal dispute with Desmond Haynes, a move that clears the way for the former opening batsman to play a more prominent role in the region’s cricket development” Excerpt from article by Ryan Patrick www.caribbeancricket.com

In another article, Ryan Patrick reports on Haynes‚ appointment as the new West Indies Players’ Association (WIPA) Secretary and informed his readers that Haynes’ appointment took effect on March 1st and comes in the midst of a nasty contract dispute between the players and the WICB over private endorsement rights. He added that interestingly, Haynes was the last player to challenge the WICB with a right-to-work lawsuit and concluded that the case was recently settled in Haynes’ favour. He speculated about the terms of the settlement.

Last Friday night the President of the WICB began his much anticipated address with the following two paragraphs. Over the past several months, a number of issues surrounding West Indies cricket has generated significant public comment. Central to these issues has been the relationship between WICB and WIPA. There has also been avid discussion surrounding the Board’s sponsorship arrangements.‚

During this period, the Board has consciously refrained from conducting in public its negotiations with WIPA since, in its judgement, such an action would merely have served to harden positions around public stances, thereby rendering resolution even more difficult. Now, however, with the imminent commencement of the Digicel 2005 Home Series at the end of March, we have reached the stage where it is imperative that the Board’s position on the various issues be stated.‚

The WICB President concluded his statement by saying that The Board is committed to develop West Indies cricket for the benefit of the fans and all players throughout the region and accepts its responsibility to take West Indies Cricket to the next level while preserving the integrity of the relationships necessary to secure a long- term prosperous future for all, at all levels of the game. Two of the more exciting teams in world cricket, South Africa and Pakistan, come to our shores at the end of this month to take part in the Digicel 2005 Home Series. The Board looks forward to the support of all friends of West Indies Cricket as we continue to prepare for our biggest assignment yet – the Cricket World Cup 2007.

Sandwiched in between these opening and closing paragraphs is a disclosure of the Boards poor financial position, the WIPA demands for more pay and a Board ultimatum to the seven players (including Brian Lara) who have personal endorsement contracts with Cable & Wireless. The WICB requests that WIPA share the nature of these contracts so that WICB can be satisfied that these contracts contain no provisions which could be construed as passing off by the player of his connection with the West Indies team by attribution or by defining himself as a member of the team‚. He added that The Board expects the players named by the Selectors to respond to its invitation to make themselves available for the Digicel 2005 Home Series by Friday March 11th so that the Board may decide by March 14 whether the tour is to proceed.‚ What difference will it make if the information is shared? A sensible solution is just not select the seven offending players, did they the Selection committee not choose 25-30 players from whom they would select the final squad? If more than one of these players were injured , they would not be availalbe anyway. Manchester United football team was hit by disaster when the team plane crashed at Munich airport in 1958. After losing eight players in the disaster, it took Matt Busby, the manager, ten years to rebuild the team to the pinnacle of success to which it was accustomed. Given the present performances of the WI cricket team it will probably take that time anyway with the existing squad.

No sooner than the Presidents remarks were made public, there appeared an article in the Australian press entitled Lara to be dropped from the West Indies team‚ – www.theage.com.au

www.theage.com.au.Obviously the writer in the Australian press saw the dropping of Lara and the other six players as a no brainer‚. Why did the WICB even mention the cancellation of this Home Series?

The stakeholders in WI cricket are WICB, WIPA, the players, the fans, the sponsors and the Caribbean nations representing Caribbean people. If this Home Series is cancelled, then all stakeholders will lose and it will be another set back for the already demanding strategies to succesfully stage the World Cup.

There is an urgent need to convene a forum of WI cricket stakeholders, where an independent facilitator(s) brings some sense to this impasse in the interest of our future in the Caribbean. For years we have been trying to realise our competitive advantage from West Indian Sea Island cotton. Exclusive Cottons of the Caribbean Inc. is our latest attempt. Are we going to self destruct in West Indies cricket as we are poised to reap a major harvest through the potential World Cup benefits and its legacy impact? Maybe Desmond Haynes, once again, has a major role to play.

(Dr. Basil Springer GCM is Change-Engine Consultant, Caribbean Business Enterprise Trust Inc. (CBET) – http://www.cbet-inc.org

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