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Under fire

Ernest Hilaire.

PORT OF SPAIN — Former chief executive officer of the West Indies Cricket Board, Ernest Hilaire, came under fire during cross- examination by the West Indies Players Association’s lead counsel, Dave Kissoon as the case between the WICB and WIPA continued yesterday at the Port of Spain High Court. Hilaire, who served as the WICB CEO from 2009-2012, was called to the witness stand to give evidence in the dispute between WIPA and the WICB over the use of the Collective Bargaining Agreement and the Memorandum of Understanding between the Board and the players.

Kissoon showed that Hilaire had stated in an interview with veteran broadcaster Simon Crosskill that he had received letters from several players instructing him not to deduct money from their salaries and forward it to WIPA. Yet, when the question was posed to Hilaire if any player had ever written the board stating that he had revoked membership with WIPA, Hilaire responded, “No, not during my tenure.”

He also admitted under oath that he had not witnessed a weakening in the relationship between WIPA and its members, something he had alluded to in his witness statement. Hilaire also admitted that he assisted former WIPA CEO Dinanath Ramnarine with the formation of the West Indies Player Management Company Limited, the management company that owns the rights of the players, and that Ramnarine was not the chairman as originally stated.

Kissoon also went into the issues of performance appraisal and sponsorship fees for players, saying that the Ramnaresh Sarwan dispute, which was settled in May of this year, was the breach of a clear and unambiguous clause in the MOU, and that the WICB had a year and a half to settle the issue but failed to do so.

When asked if the players would no longer have contractual right to fair appraisal and the Provident Fund if the agreements were terminated, Hilaire said that he believed these would be covered in the retainer contracts. However, Kissoon showed that the appraisals were addressed in Schedule F while payments to the Provident Fund were highlighted in Article 15 of the MOU.

Hilaire also said that sponsorship fees to players were implemented to compensate for the lack of a retainer contract. This was after Kissoon produced documents showing that the fees were being paid since 2004, despite the WICB claiming its payment began only as recent as 2009. A current sum of US$35,000 per day for each day’s play – equally divided among the players for their image rights-is paid, but Hilaire contended that it was supposed to cease when the retainer contracts were introduced in 2006. He said, in order to avoid further conflict the board continued with the payments.

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