Mon | Apr 24, 2017

Can't we all get along?

Published:Sunday | October 19, 2014 | 10:00 AM
Bravo to Dwayne for bringing West Indies cricket into disrepute!

Gordon Robinson, Columnist

 I understand senior West Indies players are upset, but they should take a deep breath and remember who and where they are.

In an intemperate open letter, purportedly written to Dave Cameron "on behalf of the West Indies team" by Dwayne Bravo, Bravo is reported by ESPNCricinfo as informing Cameron that West Indies Players Association (WIPA) no longer represents the players; the WIPA board should resign; and West Indies Cricket Board should "intervene".

There seems to be an anxiety evident in the published letters 'on behalf' of the players to throw out the baby with the bathwater and create a vacuum at WIPA. Since nature abhors a vacuum, I wonder who's waiting in the wings to fill any such void.

And as we fight one another

for the power and the glory

Jah kingdom goes to waste ...

Bravo can't possibly represent "the West Indies team", a creature in constant flux. He can't represent players currently in India while these players are WIPA members represented by WIPA, no matter how unhappy anybody is with terms negotiated by WIPA. That's not the way to respond to disappointment in negotiated results. WICB isn't going to negotiate with individual players or different representatives for different cliques. That's chaos.

We de people want fi know

just where we're going.

Right now we hands are tied;

tied behind we back while certain people

if and buttin'.

Where do we stand?

Bravo and whoever his advisers are need to face reality. WIPA is an incorporated body under the 1995 Trinidad and Tobago Companies Act. As shareholders/members, players are subject to WIPA by-laws, including the following:

"7.1 Any member may withdraw from membership by giving 14 days' notice to the directors in writing to that effect ... ."

Until such time as members formally withdraw from WIPA, they must act in furtherance of the company's overall purposes and not undermine those purposes. The by-laws further provide:

"7.3 If any member ...conducts himself in a way which in the opinion of the directors is or may be injurious to the company, the directors may ... reprimand, fine or suspend any such member or call on him to resign."

Hopefully, Bravo's adviser(s) read these provisions before permitting him to go off half-cocked and publish his writing to the WICB as follows: "It is our view ... the WIPA board needs to ... resign. We wish to formerly (sic) advise you that WIPA has no authority to speak on our behalf ... ."

Bad move by Bravo

That's an unambiguous attempt to undermine WIPA's authority with the 'employer' with which WIPA is negotiating on behalf of ALL players. It's done while Bravo et al are still WIPA members who haven't followed the processes required to withdraw from WIPA. It's a dagger to the heart of WICB-player relations to act in this hot-headed manner. Bravo, or his adviser(s), should stop, look, and listen before deciding how to encourage WIPA to address their legitimate concerns.

We have too far to go

not to really know

just how we're getting there

and if we getting anywhere.

We have too much to change

not to know the range

of possibility

and changeability.

In 1976, during the infamous state of emergency, Ernie Smith, having lost a friend in the firestorm, wrote and recorded the inspirational Jah Kingdom Gone to Waste. The song was banned from the airwaves during the emergency and Ernie was hounded politically until he was forced into exile.

The players accuse WIPA of disingenuousness by claiming they agreed to the pay cuts. The February AGM minutes support the players, but they're being equally disingenuous in issuing blanket denials when they DID agree, in principle, but asked for assurances that they wouldn't lose significantly. This smacks of wanting to eat cake and have it, too.

The final MOU's pay cuts were unconscionable, unrealistic, and unjustifiable. But everybody involved in this escalating war of words needs to recognise West Indies cricket should be paramount before personal vendettas or objectives. A solution to West Indies cricket's perennial problem, namely, lack of developmental thinking, must be found.

That this has spiralled out of control is emphasised by the rumour reported on radio, just before my deadline, that WICB called off the Indian tour. But my sources tell me this was players' overreaction to Dave Cameron's disappointing reply to their intemperate letter (the players say they won't play after Friday's game) that was conveyed by email to WICB (foolishly copied to Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI)). Subsequently, WICB denied calling off the tour and BCCI has retaliated by saying it could consider refusing players Indian Premier League (IPL) contracts. Somebody's grand scheming is beginning to unravel.

The root of this problem lies in WIPA's blinkered early focus on seeking benefits only for 'senior' players, which led to a feeling of entitlement to sponsorship funds that isn't borne out in any official documentation. The way forward must lie in the creation of a wider base of potential stars for the long-term sustainability of West Indies cricket. How this is done must involve the input of every player.

Cogitate on these points:

1. Under the existing payment regime, the disparity in payments to internationals versus regionals is also unconscionable.

2. Consider the following:

(a) Internationals are paid in several ways (all sums quoted in US$):

(i) Retainer contracts ranging in value from $80,000 to $120,000.

(ii) Match fees: $5,000 for Tests; $2,000 for ODIs; $1,500 for T20s.

(iii) Sponsorship fees.

(iv) A guarantee of 25 per cent of WICB's share of money distributed by ICC for global events (50-over World Cup, T20 World Cup, Champions Trophy). If the distribution to WICB was, say, $8m then, BEFORE A BALL IS BOWLED, the 15 players selected would share $2m based on seniority.

(v) West Indian internationals without retainer contracts may have opted not to sign in order to earn much more in the IPL or the Big Bash, or both.

(vi) In an ICC global event year, a West Indies international could ostensibly earn between $400,000 and $500,000.

No performance pay

(vii) None of these payments are performance linked, hence West Indies haven't won the 50-over World Cup since 1979. What incentive does the current bunch have to do well when even if they finish DFL (dead last), they're guaranteed 25 per cent of the money received by WICB?

(b) Regional players are paid match fees for each match played during the first-class season: $1,300 for an entire four-day match and $700 for a one-day match. Nothing more.

3. In other cricket jurisdictions, all cricketers are paid from a common player payment pool funded from a percentage of their board's annual revenue (usually from 25-28 per cent). True, the annual revenue of these boards is probably five to six times higher than WICB's, so they can offer more lucrative retainer contracts to all players, making it easier to sell the idea that any additional earnings should be performance-based.

4. The MOU that WIPA and WICB
signed seeks to replicate the 'developed-world' model. It includes other
new concepts that reflect a move towards additional earning
opportunities for players based on performance.

5.
These transformational payment concepts have come at the expense of
previously 'guaranteed' payments to internationals. But, it could be
argued, that's a necessary casualty of the fight to take WI cricket from
mediocrity to meritocracy.

6. In all this, the
Caribbean's economic reality cannot be overlooked. There's no vibrant
sports rights market to drive TV revenues for the rights to West Indies
home series. The WICB is heavily subsidised and forever operating on
overdrafts and other forms of debt.

7. The new MOU is a
means to an end. It's not a guarantee of West Indies cricket's future
success, but it's an attempt to recognise that doing the same thing over
and over and expecting different results hasn't
worked.

Yes, Wavell Hinds cocked up the process, by
which this MOU should've been negotiated and agreed. But this is the
first real opportunity to transform West Indies cricket since
1995.

If we don't stop this silly public spectacle
resembling a playground scuffle with non-participatory schoolboys
forming a ring and shouting excitedly, "Fight! Fight!", we'll live to
regret it when future West Indies teams are relegated to playing only
with Bangladesh and New Zealand. Be careful. The future is
now.

Peace and love.

Gordon
Robinson is an attorney-at-law. Email feedback to
columns@gleanerjm.com.