EDITORIAL - Now that Dr Gonsalves has clarified
We welcome Ralph Gonsalves' clarification that it is not his pro-posal for raids on the Consolidated Funds - and hopefully no other taxpayers' accounts - to help meet the J$7-billion compensation claim by the Indians against the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) because of the abandonment of the tour of the subcontinent by senior West Indies players.
Additionally, this newspaper welcomes and endorses the frank and rational assessment of the behaviour of the cricketers by the International Cricket Council (ICC), including the potential damage they did to the global game and the consequences that might flow, if repeated, therefrom.
In the face of the knee-jerk, anti-WICB attitude - a sort of tilting of establishment windmills - the basic facts of this matter are worth repeating. A West Indies team went on tour, in pursuance of a commercial agreement between their employers, the WICB, and its Indian counterpart.
In the meantime, the West Indies team's trade union, the West Indies Players' Association - whose mandate includes the representation of cricketers other than those at the international level, but who, until now, hardly occupied its attention - was finalising wage contracts with the WICB for regional players, including those in India.
The problem is that the elite players in India, from whom the WICB would reasonably expect to fulfil the assignment, didn't like the contracts negotiated by their legal and legitimate representatives.
In particular, they were dissatisfied that a chunk of money that used to be shared by a handful of players selected for international matches will contribute to funding a structure for regional cricket, under which 90 cricketers will be paid a living wage
Parse it any way you wish, this dispute is fundamentally between one set of West Indies cricketers, the current elite group, and the leadership of their trade union, who they do not believe got them the best deal; not between the players and the WICB. Moreover, even if an expectation of specific performance of the players was not legal, it was clearly moral.
Future contracts jeopardised
As the ICC warned, the immature, unprofessional behaviour of the players could cause "irrevocable damage to the sport in the West Indies" and could risk future contracts by the offending teams on the sport's most lucrative markets. Swaddled in mollycoddling, the players may not have apprehended this point, but the ICC's pocketbook warning might clear the dissonance.
Given that international tours are between national governing bodies and not between national associations and players, responsibility for the abandonment of the Indian tour, and the obligations that flow from this, naturally fall to the WICB. Hence, it is the West Indian authorities to whom the Indian board looks for compensation.
Now that Dr Gonsalves, the prime minister of St Vincent and the Grenadines, has made it clear that he is not asking for Jamaica's Government to dig into the pockets of its poor and struggling taxpayers to pay the Indians, this newspaper is ready to listen and contribute to any dialogue or reasonable action to resolve this crisis in regional cricket.
But for this process to be efficacious, it has to begin with the acceptance and declaration of a fundamental truth: that the players were wrong, whatever your views of the WICB.
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