Olive branch

Resumption of relations between India and West Indies appears on the horizon

The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has decided to revoke the suspension imposed on bilateral tours with the West Indies by clearing India’s tour of the Caribbean next year

 The approval is now subject to the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) committing to complete last year’s abandoned tour of India.Although the BCCI has not commented on the matter, WICB president Dave Cameron informed said through a media release that the BCCI president Shashank Manohar had confirmed India would tour the Caribbean in 2016.

It is understood that both men spoke over the phone earlier this week to reach an understanding. Manohar pointed out to Cameron that the WICB needed to give a firm commitment to the BCCI that last year’s incomplete tour would be played
in India.

According to the ICC’s bilateral tours programme, India are scheduled to tour the West Indies for a four-Test series between July and August.

“West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) President, Dave Cameron, today (December 23) confirmed that following discussions with BCCI President, Shashank Manohar, the West Indies will host India in the Caribbean in 2016,” the media statement said. “This agreement is subject to the WICB and the Players Association giving a joint commitment to complete, at a later date, the tour which prematurely ended in October 2014.”

Shashank Manohar
Shashank Manohar

That pull out by the West Indies players was led by then captain Dwayne Bravo, citing the failure of the West Indies Players’ Association (WIPA) and WICB to respond convincingly to their questions relating to the memorandum of understanding and collective bargaining agreement signed by the two parties in September 2014. West Indies were supposed to play five ODIs, a T20 and three Tests on that tour, but they withdrew after the fourth ODI in Dharamsala.

 Ever since that pull-out, the WICB and especially Cameron have had to face a lot of criticism not only from the Caribbean community, but also from the BCCI. Calling the abandonment a “monumental disaster”, the then BCCI administration slapped punitive damages upon the WICB amounting to $41.97 million.

This was followed by a brief lull as the BCCI itself underwent a quarrelsome transition in its administration with initially the late Jagmohan Dalmiya taking over as board president, followed by Manohar. The change in guard allowed Cameron to buy more time, and he sought an audience with Manohar, on October 17.

 A ray of hope emerged the next day, after the BCCI’s working committee was updated on the WICB request. Besides tendering several apologies, Cameron and WICB CEO Michael Muirhead also conveyed to the BCCI top brass comprising Manohar and board secretary Anurag Thakur its inability to compensate financially. Instead, the WICB expressed its desire to make up for it by touring India for a series in 2017.

After the BCCI’s annual general meeting on November 9, though, Thakur had remained non-committal. “There is still plenty of time to go and play in West Indies. We will decide at the appropriate time. They met us recently – the CEO of the West Indies Board and the chairman (president) of the West Indies Board. They have given their viewpoint. We will take a call,” he had said.

Cameron did not provide any details about the tour or the talks between the boards.

“Cricket remained the centrepiece of our discussion and we are happy to be at this juncture,” he said.

Incidentally, while responding to readers’ questions via BCCI’s Facebook page on yesterday, Manohar had pointed out that he had the opportunity to speak to his all-time favourite cricketer, Garry Sobers, recently. According to Manohar, Sobers, a former West Indies captain, had spoken to Manohar on the state of West Indies cricket.

“I was fortunate enough that one month back when he (Sobers) was in India, he spoke to me about West Indies cricket. It was a very happy moment for me.”

Since the abandoned tour of India, Bravo has remained mostly on the outside of the West Indies set-up only playing recently in Twenty20 Internationals in Sri Lanka.

The abandoned tour of India and the subsequent fallout divided opinion among most West Indian fans with some calling for Bravo’s ban from the team.

However, some CARICOM leaders, most notably St Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves urged the WICB not to victimize Bravo and placed the blame for the impasse between the board and the players at the door of the WICB and WIPA.

Bravo has since been very vocal in his criticisms of the WICB, while still expressing hopes of continuing his international career in the two shorter forms of the game. (cricinfo/WG)

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