Editorial: WICB should hang tough
Dave Cameron hasn't been an inspirational leader of the West Indies Cricket Broad (WICB), but it is not his fault that a core group of the region's international players make it a habit of attempting to hijack the board to extract as much cash for themselves, oblivious to the economics of developing the sport in the Caribbean, or the well-being of the region's second-tier players.
That is why we urge the WICB to hold its ground, and if it comes to that, send a second-tier team to the Twenty20 World Cup in India next month, or abandon the tour altogether, until rationality returns to the players and the board sorts out the mechanism for remunerating teams that represent the Caribbean at the international level.
It was 16 months ago that the West Indies Test team, which included several of the players selected for the T20 World Cup, abandoned a tour of India because of dissatisfaction with the wage package that was negotiated by the union, the West Indies Players' Association (WIPA), and the board. They were, indeed, earning less money than in the past. That was largely because WIPA agreed that some of the cash from team sponsorship - the bulk of which, hitherto, would have gone into the pockets of a handful of international selectees - should go to establishing, including funding, the contracts of players of a regional professional cricket league. WIPA had come to the recognition that it had a constituency other than the 15 or 20 players who breathrough to the international level.
The unprofessional walkout left the WICB with a demand of compensation from its Indian counterpart for more than US$40 million, which is yet to be resolved. Some of the recalcitrant players were sidelined for a bit.
We thought that the compensation issue was settled, but now the captain of the T20 team, Darren Sammy, speaking, he says, on behalf of all but one of the squad members, has rejected the terms of their contracts, which were negotiated with WIPA, with help from the international players, using a formula and other information which the WICB indicates was shared with all players. No one objected.
VALUE TO THE TEAM
Insisting that WIPA couldn't speak on their behalf, the players now demand a doubling of the agreed match fees; the sharing of all prize money among themselves; a return to compensation based on the number of matches played; and a dollar figure-guaranteed bonus, rather than a percentage of the uncertain amount the West Indies will earn from the International Cricket Council (ICC) after the tournament.
Mr Cameron and the WICB may be blamed for going along with the change in the ICC that ceded power to India, Australia and England with their big cricket markets, thereby lessening the region's earnings from the sport. But even if that was the case, it couldn't be right that most of the returns from cricket should go to this handful of players, to the exclusion of the others and the development of the game.
In the meantime, WIPA may have to consider its role as a trade union and who it represents and whether the WICB should recognise the system of free agents, with whom it negotiates individually, based on their records and their value to the team.