Fri | Aug 18, 2017

Tony Becca | Tit for tat and trouble yet again

Published:Sunday | November 20, 2016 | 11:00 AM
Pybus
Cameron
West Indies batsman Darren Bravo.
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Every time that West Indies cricket appears to make a move forward, something happens to dampen the spirit around it.

There always seems to be a fight between the board and the players, especially the senior players. It is as if one is using the new-found achievement, or the flicker of a good performance, to show the other who is the boss.

It seems as if the fight is to keep the other one in its place, and it appears as if it does not matter to them what happens to West Indies cricket.

The latest war clouds came with the announcement of the central contracts for West Indies players for 2016-17 and the board's decision not to offer an 'A' contract to anyone but instead to offer a 'B' contract to only two, and to offer 'C' contracts to the other 10 contracted players.

The only two players offered 'B' contracts were Kraigg Brathwaite and Marlon Samuels.

Despite a financial problem, it seems strange that the board chose to offer only 12 contracts to the West Indies team, and it seems strange also because 11 players make up the team; the team plays in three types of tournaments - Test, One-day, and T20; and the players for each team change ever so often.

What has become of, or what will become of, players like Denesh Ramdin and Kemar Roach?

It also seems strange that despite the apparent fairness of the situation, the board chose not to offer 'A' contracts to any of the players - possibly to Marlon Samuels, its senior player; to Darren Bravo, arguably its best batsman recently; to Kraigg Brathwaite, its sheet-anchor batsman; to Jason Holder, the captain of the team; and to one like Devendra Bishoo.

 

'C' grade contracts

 

It seems strange, though it is probably justified based on consistency, that the West Indies team, once the best in the world, the team that everybody, or almost everybody, said would be back on top by now, or near to the top, is made up of players fit for only 'C' grade contracts.

Dave Cameron, the president of the board, has tried to clear up any misunderstandings over Bravo's contract, however.

In a release on the matter, Cameron said: "It is explicit. If your averages are not above a certain level, it tells you what contracts you will get. It is very, very difficult. His (Bravo's) averages over the past two years have been declining, so what do you do? Reward poor performances, or do you encourage him to get better?"

He continued:"If you keep giving him 'A' contracts, then what is the motivation to get better?"

Cameron may be right, in a way, especially remembering Samuel's recent Test performances, if he can answer why, if current performance is really worth much more than past performance, Samuels was offered a 'B' contract against Bravo's 'C' contract for 2017.

Maybe the offer was based upon Samuels' invaluable innings in the final of the T20 world championship, and probably forgetting their respective batting averages, and especially so, Bravo's brilliant century against Pakistan recently.

It is said today that sport is business, and big business at that. Sport, however, is sport. Performances come and performances go, and maybe the best way to deal with payment in sports today is the way it used to be dealt with, certainly in the West Indies, and in football.

Once you have made your name, you never lose pay or money. You get paid for who you are, or for what you used to be, not really for what you do, at least not per match or per season.

In the West Indies, you do not treat a Darren Bravo, or a Bishoo, or a Holder like you do a Miguel Cummins, or a Jomel Warrican, or even one as promising as Alzarra Joseph. You just do not do that. You will be described as "dissing" the young man.

Darren Bravo, who once chose to play Test cricket over T20 cricket, may now join what has been described as "the gravy train": he may now join the likes of brother Dwayne, Chris Gayle, AndrÈ Russell, Darren Sammy, Kieron Powell, Lendl Simmons, Samuel Badree, Sunil Narine, Holder, Samuels, Nicolas Pooran, and company in the money leagues around the world in a bid to make up for the loss.

Maybe the whole thing has really come about because of the lack of money needed to fulfil the contracts, but what is almost certain, Darren Bravo may be one more player missing, not only from Test cricket, but from West Indies first-class cricket, from the league expected to develop the players who should take the West Indies back to the top or near to it.

 

why complain now?

 

Something is strange in all of this. Cameron says: "It is explicit. If your averages are not above a certain level, it tells you what contract you will get."

That means that the players knew what was in the contract, and if that is so, why did they not complain before? Why wait until contract time comes around?

Is it that the player, or players, feel that he or they would not be affected; that he or they are so good that they cannot fail to perform?

That attitude of some of these West Indies players would not surprise me.

What is the strangest thing of all, however, is the tweet that Darren Bravo sent out to all and sundry in response to Cameron's attempt to clear the air.

If it is true, it is totally disrespectful.

"You have been failing for the last 4 years. Y don't U resign, and FYI, I've neva been given a A contract. Big idiot," tweeted Bravo,

That is going too far - a West Indies player, a senior player, a young man, saying that the president of the West Indies Cricket Board has failed for the last four years, asking him why he does not resign, calling him a liar, and labelling him a big idiot.

That shows the big divide between the players, the board, and the president, and that exemplifies the problem of West Indies cricket.

 

Withdrawn contracts

 

The board has since withdrawn his contract. Darren Bravo has since been pulled from the team for the Tri-Nations in Zimbabwe for "inappropriate and unacceptable" behaviour, and he has been told that he must apologise to the president for the disparaging comments and probably for using the tweet as Cameron himself once did.

Two wrongs do not make one right, and Bravo was undoubtedly wrong.

The question that many, including me, are asking is this: Is Cameron, by getting involved with the day-to-day operations of cricket and by doing the job of the Cricket Committee, acting as the president of the board or as the CEO of the board? Or does the board have two CEOs? Or is it a one-man organisation?

The people, the cricket fans, are also asking why Richard Pybus, a foreigner, and despite him being the technical director of cricket, was given the power to withdraw Bravo's contract, to demand an apology from Bravo, and to determine what further penalties, if any, he Bravo faces as punishment for his deplorable actions.

It is strange, and surprising, if it is really Pybus' pen and Pybus' hand that made the demands - that in this day and age - a non-West Indian can stop a West Indian player from representing the West Indies regardless of the circumstances.

The war clouds are spreading, again and ominously so.