PORT-OF-SPAIN, Trinidad (CMC):
INTERIM CEO of the West Indies Players' Association (WIPA), Michael Hall, is optimistic of a fresh start in WIPA's relationship with the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) as its new CEO took charge yesterday.
Michael Muirhead was due to begin a three-year term as CEO following confirmation of his appointment during a WICB meeting in Barbados last month.
Muirhead replaced Dr Ernest Hilaire, whose tenure was marred by turbulence, including public spats with former WIPA chief Dinanath Ramnarine and contentious handling of issues relating to senior players, most notably Chris Gayle.
"The incoming CEO is also a Jamaican, like myself. The fact that he happens to be a personal friend of mine outside of cricket, someone who I have known for more than 20 years, I don't think will hurt," said Hall.
"... And as with any new appointment, we are optimistic that it will open the door for a more reasoned approach to discussions between the two parties."
WIPA and Hilaire have been at loggerheads throughout his three-year tenure, with several matters having to be settled in court.
Muirhead is starting his new job as CEO amid reports that the WICB has lost its 15th arbitration matter to WIPA, involving Guyanese middle-order batsman Narsingh Deonarine.
Hilaire a costly leader
The ruling in favour of Deonarine to the tune of TT$500,000 followed a similar pattern to that of recent matters involving Rhamnarish Sarwan and Lendl Simmons.
Hall says Hilaire, who this week takes up a diplomatic posting with the new Kenny Anthony administration in St Lucia, has been costly to Windies cricket in awards and court fees.
He says the high-profile dispute between Hilaire and Gayle that left the West Indies opener in exile for 14 months has ended, but no money was involved in its resolution.
"The matter of Chris' exclusion and the reasons for him being excluded are no longer an issue with respect to his alleged comments," said Hall.
"We know the history of that matter is concluded to our satisfaction. The terms of his return to the team did not contemplate any such payment."
WIPA and the WICB are currently in a court battle over the Central Bargaining Agreement (CBA) and Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) after the board tried to terminate the agreement 10 months ago.
The trial will commence on October 15 in Trinidad.