Task force suggests ulterior motive for India pullout
Chastises board and players' association for not engaging in best practices
Leighton Levy, Gleaner Writer
A Task force convened to look into the reasons behind pay dispute that saw the West Indies players pulling out of the tour in India in October has come to the determination that there was more to the players' actions than they are letting on.
However, those other reasons have not been determined.
The West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) is currently facing legal action from the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) that is looking to recover US$41 million in losses accrued from the sudden end to the tour. The BCCI has also suspended all bilateral agreements with the cash-strapped board.
The Task Force, chaired by Queens Council Michael Gordon and comprising Sir Wes Hall and Sir Richard Cheltenham, submitted their report to the WICB on Saturday.
In it, they said the board and the West Indies Players' Association (WIPA) must share culpability for not ensuring that the players received their contracts before they departed on tour, especially considering the issues discussed at a meeting between the parties prior to the players' departure, from which a memorandum of understanding was agreed upon.
"There is something fundamentally wrong in sending a team to faraway places with only an historical view of their terms of employment and then to radically change those historical terms after they arrive in that distant place. It was the conclusion of the players in India that their compensation would be reduced by some 70 per cent. In our view, it is irrelevant whether their calculations were accurate or not," the task force report said.
"Sufficient to say that we, as a task force, even with the help of Mr Gerard E. Pinard, a labour-relations expert contracted by the Board to assist the Task Force, were unable to arrive with certainty at what compensation each player would receive in the new arrangement."
The Task Force noted that there was no mention of any incentive scheme in the players' contracts.
"It will be remembered that the new MOU was signed by WIPA and the Board on September 19, 2014, and that all the players arrived in India without their player contracts, which, according to the Board, had to be based on the new September 2014 MOU."
However, the Task Force said it did not believe there was any effort on the part of WIPA or the Board to hoodwink the players.
"The Board and WIPA were attempting a sea-change in the financial arrangements for West Indian professional cricketers without ensuring that there was understanding and acceptance by the WICB's employees, the touring cricketers.
"Having said the above, we are of the view that whilst WICB and WIPA can neither be accused of bad faith, they both erred significantly in failing to ensure that their vision for the future of West Indies Cricket, with its ramifications for the sharing of sponsorship money and the concomitant changes in the level of remuneration for both the senior cricketers and the new class of professional players, was clearly understood and the shared vision."
It went on to state that it is for this reason and more that the players were to bear a lot of the blame for the premature end to the tour.
"A significant proportion of the blame for the termination of the tour must also lie with the players and, in particular, their leaders. The tour was called off when the players refused to play the fifth one-day international on October 17, 2014.
"At that time, according to Mr Bravo, the players knew that Mr Cameron and Mr Hinds were due to come to India to meet with them on the 21st October, some four days later.
"Their anxiety to bring the tour to a premature end without waiting the additional four days certainly suggested to the Task Force that, to use a West Indian phrase, 'there was more in the mortar than the pestle'. There was, however, no information on what the 'more' was, but that it existed, the Task Force felt certain.
"Senior players in any overseas squad bear a great responsibility to set standards and create examples for the more junior players to follow. This, the Task Force felt, the senior players failed to do."