Editorial: Sammy’s lack of judgement, decorum
While Caribbean fans continue to relish Carlos Brathwaite's final-over heroics and the West Indies' victory in cricket's T20 World Cup, its rich flavour was unfortunately diluted by captain Darren Sammy's post-match, hubristic screed that did nothing to improve relations between the players and the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB). Instead, he extended existing hurdles, making them harder to scale.
Before the team departed for the World Cup in India, there were fears of a strike, or withdrawals, by the selected players, over pay. With Sammy as their spokesman, most of the players refused, until the eleventh hour, to sign their contracts, complaining that they were being paid substantially less than for previous tournaments. The players relented in the face of an ultimatum to sign within a prescribed period or be replaced by others.
The development carried echoes of the 2014 abandonment of a Test match tour to India by some of the same players, over a salary quarrel, triggered by the WICB's change of policy - after negotiations with the players' union - that resulted in the use of the bulk of its earnings from sponsorship deals to finance a regional professional league, rather than sharing most of the money among a handful of elite players.
In this recent case, the board's ability to pay was further complicated by a new formula by which the International Cricket Council compensates member countries for participating in tournaments like the T20 World Cup.
This, therefore, was part of the background noise when Sammy complained of feeling "disrespected by our board"; lamented the challenges he claimed the team had in getting their kits; suggested that first-time manager Rawle Lewis was left to solve the problem without support; hailed Caribbean Community (CARICOM) leaders for their encouragement, which he said was not forthcoming from the WICB; and likened the squad to a group forged into a tight unit by all manner of adversity.
WRONG TIME, WRONG PLACE
We, of course, cannot comment on the veracity of Sammy's accusations, and whether there were hyperbolic interpretations to some of the perceived slights. But however real, or otherwise, may have been the issues, Darren Sammy chose the wrong time, the wrong forum, and the wrong occasion to address them.
In the flush of victory, he could, of course, count on the support of those whose knee-jerk response is to endorse anything that appears to embarrass the WICB, whose leadership is too often unsophisticated and ham-fisted. But the immediate aftermath of Sunday's victory should have been mostly for West Indian fans, whose support for the team can be an ulcerous exercise.
Sammy did make a passing reference to the regional supporters and his hope that this victory, as well as those by the women's and Under-19 teams, marked the start of a resurgence of regional cricket. But Caribbean cricket fans, in the presence of a global audience, were largely treated to a diatribe against the region's cricket authorities. It was immature linen-washing at its worst.
Clearly, there are many issues to be resolved in West Indies cricket. But those debates are to be had in the boardrooms and other fora of the Caribbean, not on a cricket field in Kolkata, India. It should be done with decorum.