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Regional task force says WICB, WIPA and players all to blame for India impasse

A regional task force has placed blame for the fallout of the recent abandoned West Indies tour of India mainly on the shoulders of the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) and the West Indies Player Association (WIPA), but has also admonished players for acting in an irresponsible manner.

The task force was commissioned by the Antigua-based WICB to review the matters relating to the October 17  premature end of the tour of India.

The West Indies were originally slated to play three Tests, five ODI’s and one T20 match, but the players only took to the field for four ODI’s, following a standoff with the two entities over a “protracted payment structure dispute”.

The action resulted in the Board of Control for Cricket India (BCCI) cancelling all bilateral tours between the two regions and demanding US$42 million in damages from the WICB.

In a detailed report presented at a Board of Directors meeting in Trinidad on Saturday, the task force – which comprised of chairman Michael Gordon, Sir Wes Hall and Sir Richard Cheltenham – said its investigation had revealed that both the WICB and WIPA had erred by not presenting the players with their contracts prior to the tour.

“We are of the view that the fundamental and overriding excuse for the players withdrawing their labour (refusing to play the 5th ODI and subsequent matches), was the attempted imposition of new contractual terms of employment on the players negotiated between the Board and WIPA, which the players saw for the first time after they got to India,” the report states.

“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 adds.

The task force pointed out that even with the assistance of Gerard E. Pinard – a labour relations expert contracted by the Board to assist in the probe – it was unable to arrive with certainty at what compensation each player would receive in the new arrangement.

The eminent team also raised questions as to if the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), which was signed between the WICB and WIPA, prior to the players’ arrival in India, was indeed a contract or not.

“Very real questions arise as to whether the September MOU was or was not a contract. Both Michael Muirhead and Dave Cameron, CEO and President respectively of the Board, took the view that it was an enforceable contract.

“Wavell Hinds [the WIPA President] on the other hand was equally firmly of the view that the September MOU was not in and of itself a contract, but rather an agreed understanding that would lead to a collective bargaining agreement in much the same way as the prior MOU/CBA arrangement had worked,” the report points out.

“As a result, one of the eight recommendations suggested by the task force is for players’ contracts to be given to them at least three weeks before a tour.

It further advised that players should return them at latest, one week before the tour. Failure to do so should result in the disqualification of the player from selection on the team.

However, the players, who were captained by Trinidadian Dwayne Bravo on the abandoned tour, did not emerge unscathed.

Dwayne Bravo, captain of the India tour.
Dwayne Bravo, captain of the India tour.

In the report, the senior players were admonished for not acting in a responsible manner.They were also chastised for not awaiting the scheduled arrival of Cameron and Hinds in India on October 21, four days after the tour was called off.

“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 5th ODI on October.

“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 to the pestle’,” the report suggests.

“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.”

Other suggestions also included the recruitment of a sports psychologist on a retainer basis, as well as the formulation of an employees handbook.

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