Mon | Oct 23, 2017

Tony Becca | He who feels it knows it

Published:Sunday | November 13, 2016 | 12:00 AM
WICB CEO Michael Muirhead
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Money, it is said, especially by those who do not have it, is the root of all evil.

To those who have it, however, especially a lot of it, money, if it is used properly, is the key to happiness and success.

The West Indies Cricket Board has no money, or very little. It has no success on the field recently, or very little. It wants some money in a bid to find success, and it plans to get that money one way or another.

With the dwindling gate receipts hurting West Indies cricket, the board's only source of revenue is its share of revenue from the ICC and from television.

The problem of the board is where to find the money.

The money should come from the players, but therein lies the problem: the WIBC does not control the players. It has no players.

As the body governing West Indies cricket, the board selects the West Indies team. The member countries, however, are the ones that parade them in regional competition and then leave the West Indies Board to select the best of them for international competition. It is as simple as that, or it should be as simple as that.

Even though this seems to have been forgotten, or ignored, over the years, this is how it was meant to be, and this is how it should be.

West Indies cricket, made up of 12 different countries and six members, and with no one to control it, is a complex and confusing thing.

The players all belong to the member countries and to the respective clubs in the member countries. They are the ones who discover the players, who nurture their talent, and put it on display in local and in regional competitions.

The West Indies Cricket Board is in a bind. They are short of money to do what should be done, e.g., to pay the players properly and to administer cricket properly - to provide proper coaching, especially at the youth level, to provide good facilities, and to assist the clubs in some way.

 

In-demand players

 

The board say that its players are in demand, that they are all around the world playing in T20 cricket and that they are making money doing so, and they have decided that they want some of that money.

First of all, Kieron Pollard is the player the West Indies Cricket Board refused the No Objection Certificate (NOC) to play in Bangladesh although Pollard is not on the West Indies team, although Pollard is not a contracted player with the West Indies board, even though the board should have no control over him, and even though other West Indians are playing around the world without even a murmur.

This seems a case of double standards.

The Board has since clarified its position by saying that the 20 per cent it is asking for is to be paid by the organising board and not by the player, or players, and has back-tracked a bit since by "releasing" Pollard.

This all started with the West Indies Cricket Board's refusal to sign the NOC for Pollard to go Bangladesh to play and the objection to the demand by the international players association Cricket South Africa, and Cricket Australia while saying that it is a restraint of trade and that they are willing to fight it.

The West Indies Cricket Board, however, claims it is not a restraint of trade by saying that they have a right to a percentage of the players' fees due to their investment in the players' development.

And a precedent has already been set.

India, through their Indian Premier League, made a contribution equivalent to 10 per cent of the fees to the countries involved and to the West Indies Cricket Board for Chris Gayle, Marlon Samuels, Jerome Taylor, and Andre Russell for two years up to the West Indies strike in India a year ago.

That may have been a PR exercise, but whatever it was, it was not a part of the players' fee, as the board's letter of refusal to Pollard first implied it should have been.

A third of the money from the IPL was kept by the West Indies Board, a third was paid to the Jamaica Cricket Association, and a third was paid to the player's club, to Lucas, Melbourne, St. Elizabeth, and St. Catherine for their role in developing the players.

Right or wrong, and although the players do not belong to them, maybe that is why the West Indies Board is looking in that direction this time. Money is short, and he who feels it knows it.

Something seems wrong, however. Cricket Australia and Cricket South Africa say that the issue of fees was brought up by the West Indies at a recent ICC meeting, but nothing was agreed. Michael Muirhead of the West Indies Board, on the other hand, said he was told that it was agreed upon.

It's all a mess, and especially that despite everything, somewhere along the line, Bangladesh appears to have agreed to pay over 10 per cent of the players' fees to the West Indies Cricket Board.

The West Indies Cricket Board had better be careful it does not have another crisis on its hand.

Something disruptive always seems to happen in West Indies cricket every time something good happens.

Money is needed, and a fee for the services of top West Indies players playing around the world seems a good idea. But it must be well thought out, and it must be well thrashed out between all concerned before any decision is taken, especially as it concerns the problem-ridden West Indies.

 

Free for all

 

The West Indies must be careful, especially as a free for all, with everybody paying in a tit-for-tat formula, could end up benefitting no one at all and, in particular, the West Indies, who have so many overseas players in their own CPL league.

It be could be penny wise, and pound foolish. On top of that, what would happen if the organisers really objected to paying the money? Would the West Indies Cricket Board then call on the players to pay it from their fees, or would the board then suspend them, or ban them from West Indies cricket?

Back in the late 1980s, 1990s, and the early 2000s, during my time as the president of Melbourne, in the days of the Milo - Melbourne Festival, plus the President's Luncheons, fish fries, bingo parties, and dances, back in the days when money was tight and it was difficult making ends meet, the committee came up with what we thought was a beautiful idea.

We were at that time, and even up to now, producing a fair number of first-class players and Test players, including the great Michael Holding and Courtney Walsh, and we thought it would be a good idea if we were to get back a little of what we spent in developing these players into what they had become.

 

Five or 10 per cent fees

 

We figured that the club should ask for five or 10 per cent of fees that any player received through cricket after they had reached the stage of regional and international representation.

We talked to the JCA about it many times, but nothing came of it. We thought of doing it alone, but then we figured that would not make sense since all the players had to do was, maybe, join another club.

It is over 20 years now that that suggestion was made, and ignored, and now I understand that the JCA will be holding a meeting shortly to discuss the same topic.

He who feels it knows it. The West Indies Board needs money, the clubs need money, West Indies cricket needs money, and one way of getting it is through the skill of their players, or whicever players they may be, once they are West Indians.

Once upon a time, West Indies players were so good, so great, that they would make millions of dollars for playing cricket anywhere in the world.

This time around, and in this sort of cricket, there are some nuggets still around, including Gayle and Russell, Pollard himself and Carlos Brathwaite, but the West Indies Board had better be careful. It had better trod gingerly.

This move was badly timed, and this move, as good as it seems, appears rushed. It seems like a move designed to get back at certain players for saying certain things, and that would defeat the whole purpose, and all the good intentions.

Some things are not as bad as they sometimes seem to be. Most times, it depends on how they are said, or written, or how they are presented.