Thu | Apr 27, 2017

Cricket collapse

Published:Friday | October 17, 2014 | 10:00 AM

Wavell Hinds, we are told, will be flying off to India to meet with the senior West Indies players this weekend in a bid to resolve what now seems to be an unresolvable problem. I don't envy him.

The players, led by the combative Dwayne Bravo, are apparently not in the mood for small talk and conciliatory speeches. Nothing besides the reinstatement of their share of the sponsorship money looks likely to appease them, and since the WICB is insisting that it will stick to the signed contract it has with WIPA, it appears that Wavell Hinds might as well stay home.

Depending on who you talk to about this issue, Wavell Hinds is either a fair, well-intentioned WIPA representative who is hell-bent on looking out for the vast majority of first-class players, or he had acted impulsively and hoodwinked the senior players at that now-infamous WIPA meeting in Trinidad earlier this year. He must either be praised or criticised, hoisted on to a pedestal and seen as the epitome of excellence for all to emulate, or he must pack his bags and go.

When this issue first hit the headlines, most people with whom I spoke were squarely in WIPA's corner, seeing the players as nothing more than money-hungry mercenaries. In many corners, this view has remained, but as time has elapsed, Bravo and crew have come in for more sympathy, with more questions being asked of the top brass of WIPA.

It seems clear to most objective onlookers that Bravo & Company either were not aware of the exact nature of the proposal at that meeting, or they understood the proposal, but were assured that even if they lost that sponsorship money, it would be made up somewhere else. It seems reasonable to believe that if they knew they would be losing money of the magnitude they are losing now, they would have been up in arms from then, and wouldn't wait till they were stuck on tour in India.

If we accept that as a logical deduction, it begs the question, if the senior players weren't sure of the new arrangements, or if they were promised significant make-up elsewhere which hasn't been forthcoming, isn't that the fault of the WIPA hierarchy?

A lot of things in this intriguing saga would make for a classic drama on the big screen. For one, these leaked emails between the parties involved seem nothing short of sinister. Somebody, somewhere, on both the players' and WIPA's side, wanted these emails to be made public.

Both sides obviously want to sway the public with their version of events. Both camps have refused to be interviewed about the matter publicly, which gives the impression that they don't want to wash their dirty laundry in public, and yet the correspondence between the two could be read on the Internet within days of being written! Am I the only one who finds this amusing?

We keep hearing about a third party that's pulling the strings behind the scenes. We are hearing of private phone calls from this third party to first-class players asking them if they were willing to sign no-confidence documents against the WIPA president. This cloak-and-dagger stuff only needs popcorn and a drive-in!

It's not only Wavell's reputation that's at a crossroads; West Indies cricket's is too. Barry Wilkinson, of Line and Length fame, told me on radio that the players would never strike while in India, so this tour is safe. Too many of the players depend on IPL contracts to fatten their bank accounts and they wouldn't do anything on Indian soil that would jeopardise their chances of being signed at the next IPL auction. I'm completely sold on that, and the players' words that they are playing on in India as a show of 'good faith' may be nothing more than well-placed political platitudes. That 'good faith' may not extend to the South African tour later this year, for the simple reason that upsetting the South African cricket authorities has no direct bearing on their pockets.

So we await the next move, or the next 'private' email, or the next big announcement. Who needs the excitement of on-field West Indies cricket when the behind-the scenes activities are so riveting?

Orville Higgins is a sportscaster and talk-show host at KLAS ESPN FM. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com.