Task force report on India tour
Following is the full report of a task force which was commissioned to review the matters relating to the premature end to the West Indies tour of India.
The West Indies Cricket Board Task Force, which comprised chairman Michael Gordon, QC, Sir Wes Hall and Sir Richard Cheltenham, QC, delivered its findings at a board of directors meeting held in Port of Spain, Trinidad, on Saturday.
The first objective of the [West Indies Cricket Board] Task Force was to investigate the cause of the actions of the players, which resulted in the premature termination of the tour [of India]. We are of the view that the fundamental and overriding excuse for the players withdrawing their labour (refusing to play the 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.
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. 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.
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 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.
This was fundamental.
It is trite law that if two parties to a negotiation do not agree on the effect of a document coming out of these negotiations, then there is no meeting of the minds, and hence no enforceable contract. 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 . . . shared. 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 ODI 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 October 21, 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.
1. The WICB must now build pillars of trust and respect with the players who are the board’s employees. In this process WIPA and the senior players have a very real role to play.
2. The WICB should simplify the team’s management structure as follows:
The manager is in charge of the team for home and away tours.
The head coach is in charge of cricket matters with easy access to the manager at all times.
The captain is in charge of the team on the field of play with access to the manager and head coach. The captain is also the mentor to the team off the field of play.
3. The players’ contracts must be given to players at least three weeks before a tour. The players must return them at latest, one week before the tour. Failure to return a signed contract will disqualify the player from selection on the team.
4. The WICB should recruit the services of a sports psychologist on a retainer basis to help our players with mental preparation, especially young players. It is noted that two of our greatest prospects are currently out of the team because of “unexplained personal reasons”.
5. The WICB print an Employees Handbook which will be given to WIPA and to every player who represents the West Indies. The handbook should include a précis of the MOU and CBA Players manual with selection criteria; the retainer contract; three cricket formats –– Test, ODI and T20; A-Team and Youth Team tours; CPL and WICB professional franchise; any other relevant information.
6. The WICB should convene bonding sessions twice yearly between players, management and the board to foster harmonious relations. Individual members of the executive committee which normally meets more often than the board should be selected to oversee and solve any personal or cricketing problems revealed by players.
7. A new CBA should contain a provision such as is contained in legislation relating to essential services to the effect that before the withdrawal of labour or any other industrial action be taken that a minimum period of notice be given by WIPA to WICB (say 14 days) of any industrial action contemplated by WIPA or the players as a result of an identified dispute. We would recommend that a similar provision be put into the individual player’s contracts.
This would obviate any circumstance as occurred in India. Breach of such a condition would be a breach of contract.
8. There should be a reversion to the former tradition of a management committee comprising the following persons who generally accompany the team: the manager as chairman; the head coach; the chairman of selectors; the captain; a WIPA representative and/or a senior player.