EDITORIAL - Saving the Bravo Bunch
Wavell Hinds is a decent young man who, as head of the West Indies cricketers union, took decisions that he obviously believes to be in the best interest of his broader constituency and the development of the game in the Caribbean. We generally agree with him.
Yet, in the interest of West Indies cricket, and in the face of the gnashing greed of the elite players, we suggest to Mr Hinds that he take the moral high ground and step aside as president and CEO of the West Indies Players' Association (WIPA). It would be a sacrifice that might help to prevent an already fraught situation worsening to the congenital sourness that used to characterise relations between the region's top players and the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) as well as the creation of an unbridgeable chasm between the players.
The problem is the decision of the WICB to change the structure of the game in the Caribbean and its scheme for financing the new format. At present, West Indian domestic competitions revolve, broadly, around national and supranational teams, whose players are citizens or residents of the territories or the supranational entities for which they compete. WICB now plans a franchise system, with a team based in each of its member territories but comprising players who, but for a core group, would not necessarily be nationals or residents of those countries. They can be drafted from anywhere in the region.
We reserve opinion on the structure, appreciating the WICB's intent in expanding the pool of professional players, which it hopes will lead to the professionalisation of the game in the Caribbean and the global competitiveness of a struggling regional team.
The board intends to finance the new format out of US$2.3 million in sponsors' money that used to be earned by selectees to senior West Indies teams for the use of their images. That cash will allow 90 players to be contracted to the territorial franchises. This is outside of the 30 elite players who are contracted to the WICB.
WIPA says that many of those present at the annual general meeting in February, including captain of the regional one-day team Dwayne Bravo and other senior members of the union, agreed to the new structure, which was formalised in an agreement with the WICB earlier this month. That deal included increases ranging from 15 per cent to 25 per cent for the board-contracted players, who will earn between US$80,000 and US$150,000. Additionally, their match fees increased by 15 per cent, to US$5,750 per Test, US$1,725 for Twenty20 games, and US$2,300 for one-day internationals.
However, Mr Bravo, the spokesman for the group of players now in India, insists that they didn't agree to the deal; claims Mr Hinds compromised their interests; and, having belatedly arrived at the conclusion that Mr Hinds has a conflict of interest because of a personal relationship WICB President Dave Cameron and his membership of the Jamaica Cricket Association, says that he should resign as head of WIPA.
The interest of other WIPA members who have not gained West Indies selection or elite-player status, but might now earn what WIPA calls a "living wage", appears not to bother the Bravo Bunch, who say the association no longer speaks on their behalf.
The implosion of WIPA benefits no one. By sacrificing himself, Mr Hinds might help save the Bravo Bunch from themselves, and in the process, West Indies cricket.
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