Who calls the shots?
West Indies cricket shocked the world recently when their players, all except one, or so it seems, walked off the tour of India in a shocking and dramatic fashion.
It was the culmination of an impasse between the players, West Indies Players Association (WIPA) and the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) over money, a quarrel in which the players claim that WIPA agreed with the board to take too much of their money in a bid to spread the wealth.
The board and WIPA argued that that was not true and that the players did agree to the deal.
Was the contract signed and sealed, was it a gentleman's handshake, or was there no
contract, as required, for good governance before the start of every tour?
Whatever is the answer to these questions, the players are guilty for bringing the game into disrepute, for embarrassing West Indies cricket before the world, for bucking international standards of behaviour, and probably, and most importantly, for biting the hand that feeds you.
There are four things, however, which should be explained, especially as things should be done properly if things are to work effectively.
Why, for example, did Denesh Ramdin, the Test captain, not deal with the issue, why were the players beside Bravo when he announced the end of the tour at the toss, where was the WICB president during all this, and who really called off the tour?
Protocol suggested that leaders speak to leaders and that the business of Indian cricket and West Indian cricket be conducted by the two boards, by the head of the two boards. This, however, was not done.
From all reports, the Board of Control for Cricket (BCCI) was first contacted with news of a cancellation of the tour by Richard Pybus, an employee of the WICB, and secondly by Richie Richardson, the manager of the team, and both times by email.
That must have annoyed the BCCI. The powers that be in West Indies cricket reneged on their responsibility, and no amount of excuses can hide that fact.
It was unethical at best.
Pybus is not a West Indian, he is not a member of the WICB, he is employed by the WICB to do a specific job and, as such, he had no right to act above his weight, not even if he was told to do so.
Probably, however, he was given the impression that he is invaluable to West Indies cricket and, as such, has the right, or the authority, to take onto himself powers which are reserved for the president.
Not even Richardson, a son of the soil, a good West Indies cricketer and a good West Indies captain of earlier days, and the team's manager, had the right to take on to himself that role.
Remember the days of Bennett King, the Australian coach who once ruled West Indies cricket, who once selected the team and who once, when Chris Gayle was the captain of the team, called in the team before an ODI match at Queen's Park Oval had ended?
King believed that the West Indies had won the match, but by his action, the West Indies had lost it.
It was not King's duty to call in the players. It was the captain's duty to do so, but King overstepped his bounds. Not a word was said to him about it, and he kept his job for a while longer.
WI in trouble
The strike of the West Indies players was led by Dwayne Bravo, one of the West Indies captains on tour, and with the WICB giving in.
It all started with Pybus and Richardson, however, and the question is this, who gave them the authority to do so?
West Indies cricket is in trouble, and it is in trouble partly because it has too many cooks. There are too many captains, too many people walking around and doing nothing and too many staff members employed to a body with little or no money.
West Indies cricket needs people with a passion for cricket, it needs people who know about cricket, it needs people who do not want anything but a fair, honest living from cricket, it needs players who are good enough to make a lot of money from playing cricket, and it needs people who want to see West Indies cricket back on top, especially players who are willing to work at it.
This present impasse could be a blessing in disguise, however. It could be the chance to seriously look at the game in the West Indies, look at the pay structure of all involved in West Indies cricket, look at the players and see who are good and who are not good in every aspect of the game, look at who are good enough to lead and who are not good enough to lead, and to take some hard and tough, but good decisions in the interest of West Indies cricket.
Fort a start, if and when this strike is over, if good sense prevails and the West Indies are still in the international game, the West Indies will need some good players and a good technical director - a good West Indian with a passion for the game.