Money way over mind and West Indies loyalty

Clyde Walcott and I retired around the same time in 1958 and we were given the princely sum of $1,000 by president of the West Indies Cricket Board of Control, Sir Errol De Santos.

–– Sir Everton Weekes (April, 6, 2016).

Make no mistake about it, the main problem between a few regional cricketers and the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) has more to do with money than considerations of respect and other such intangibles.

Money, money, money!

President of the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB), Dave Cameron, has drawn the ire of many because of his forthrightness, even when his opinions are sound. West Indians are not averse to hearing the truth, but our sensibilities can often be offended if that truth is clothed in cockiness, smugness and dismissiveness. He provides all three.

Responding to his critics, or those who criticize the WICB, with inappropriate juvenile tweets has not helped with the cultivation of a proper leadership image. Nor have said tweets endeared him to those already seeking his head.

While much blame may be apportioned to Mr Cameron and his board for some of the negatives in regional cricket, it should not go forth that those players constantly at loggerheads with the WICB are washed in the blood of the lamb and are without sin.

The tone and texture of the Chris Gayles and Dwayne Bravos, and now former board man Darren Sammy, would suggest the responsibilities of the WICB begin and stop with those cricketers playing domestic Twenty20 tournaments in South Africa, England, India, Bangladesh, Zimbabwe, Australia and the United Arab Emirates, and who then attempt to fit West Indies cricket into their busy schedules. But the WICB serves more than the privileged few, and the majority doth not complain.

Mr Cameron makes a salient point when he states: “We only have 52 weeks in a year. If you want to play Big Bash, Ram Slam and all those T20 tournaments, then we also need you to bring back the information and the experience to our players back home and also our sponsors who are sponsoring our tournaments who want to have our stars back home. You can’t want to play everywhere. The WICB has to call on your services, either domestic or international; but then you want the WICB to pay you a nice, big, fat retainer.”

It is somewhat hypocritical of those with bull’s eyes on Mr Cameron’s back to highlight his obvious shortcomings, but find no fault in players whose priority has not always been to West Indies cricket. We have had Sunil Narine choose to play in the Indian Premier League (IPL) last year rather than return to the Caribbean to make himself available for selection against the touring New Zealanders. We have had previous captain Chris Gayle turn up late for a 2009 tour of England because of commitments to the IPL.

Sometime ago, chief executive of the Federation of International Cricketers’ Associations, Tony Irish, stressed that “free agency” was becoming more tempting for players around the world, thanks to the commercial success of T20 cricket and the lack of context that accompanies bilateral series.

He called for the International Cricket Conference to change the way Test cricket was run, and was adamant that it be done before 2019 when the current Future Tours Programme ended. He warned that Test cricket would lose its best players otherwise.

“Free agency is a labour market phenomenon. The things that drive it are remuneration of players and also the attraction of international cricket versus T20 market. In Twenty20 they play in front of bigger crowds, but, more and more in international cricket, a player is away for a long time on meaningless tours that don’t have any context. International cricket becomes less attractive, relative to the T20 leagues which are shorter.”

Mr Irish added: “We have done comparatives of remuneration between English, Australia, India and West Indies players and there is a big disparity. They [West Indies players] can earn two or three times the money playing T20 cricket, and there is less strain on the body. It is human nature to want that.”

In 2014, the IPL had a brand value of BDS$6.4 billion. Last year the IPL contributed BDS$364 million to the gross domestic product of the Indian economy. That is the world in which the Gayles, Bravos, Russells, and others find themselves. And long may they enjoy the benefits of that lucrative association!

But it is also within this context that Mr Cameron and any alternative soul who runs the WICB, or any other aberration created by CARICOM, will have to administer regional cricket. This balancing act was not a dilemma faced by presidents and CEOs prior to 2008. However, in the age of Twenty20 cricket theirs is the headache of dealing with a handful of “free agents” who still want retainers, but do not commit or place regional cricket before the global Twenty20 leagues.

The further dilemma for the WICB is that as soon as the board develops a player to an international standard, he is likely to be picked off by Twenty20 poachers if he fits the bill required for the fast-food nature of that format.

But there is more.

An employee, in the person of Dwayne Bravo, publicly labelling his boss as “small-minded”, “arrogant” and “immature”, and the employer as “the most unprofessional board in the world”, cannot be that naïve, or indeed “brainless” to believe he can do so with impunity and without sanction. That is not the way of employer/employee relations.

Minister of Sport and Youth Emmalin Pierre could not do it to Prime Minister Dr Keith Mitchell in Grenada without sanction. And he would not have to threaten the New National Party with dissolution to get that important message over.

7 Responses to Money way over mind and West Indies loyalty

  1. Philip Corbn April 6, 2016 at 11:13 pm

    I feel constrained to say that your editorial is the most disjointed convoluted dissertation I have read for quite sometime. It certainly does not focus on the circumstances which have lead to this most recent controversy between the WICB and the players. Attempting to suggest that the proximate cause of this recent issue and indeed all of the issues which predate this one is a question of money, indicates a lack of understanding of the various vexatious and avoidable issues most of which have been due to the unprofessionalism and in some instances incompetence of the WICB and its management team. To preface your editorial of a quote by Sir Everton about money is truly a feeble and boorish attempt to lay the basis of a biased and writing.

  2. Philip F. Corbin
    Philip F. Corbin April 6, 2016 at 11:14 pm

    This is utter foolishness ! This article is based on very poor analysis of the facts and ignores the repeated incidents of arrogance and hubris displayed by Cameron and the board not only with the players, but to the Caricom Heads. I sincerely hope that your organization has not embraced and adopted the retrogressive and backward management policies and practices which are do publicly advocated by Cameron and the WICB

  3. Nathaniel Samuels April 7, 2016 at 12:29 am

    Philip, there is too much personality in this whole cricket scenario. Both parties have made serious mistakes and the only party that is getting the stick is the WICB because of Cameron’s approach which leaves a lot to be desired. He should have been relieved of his duties when he made the tweet about Gayle. But what about the players? Gayle, Bravo and now Sammy could not do what they have done to any other Board and be still playing; a simple fact. This article is spot on and we need to look at what has happened and is happening, objectively.
    I believe that WIPA in an effort to spread the cash, has marginalised the players and it is heartening to see that the Board has decided to give them a hefty sum for their efforts and winning of the tournament. Maybe that is how the future needs to look with players playing for a basic salary and very high performance rewards.
    But the group that nurtured this talent, which is West Indies Cricket should be getting better from these same players who would be nothing without the initial opportunity afforded by the Board.
    Leave the leaders out of this because they have not exactly performed well with their own people and have done nothing at all to project Caricom as a worthwhile institution. Sort out those problems first then we can allow them to look at the cricket. Time though for reason and a meeting of heads to get this vexing problem sorted out.
    Let us talk

  4. Sunshine Sunny Shine April 7, 2016 at 3:11 am

    Hmm and interesting article that is trying its best to strike a balance between the two personal indifferences plaguing the west indies cricket. What the article stated as fact, though, is that lucrative packages in any form of cricket will be the desire attraction that pulls cricketers like a magnet to it. In the Caribbean, the local inter-island tournament does not offer any real money for players to feel comfortable with it. It is simply a tournament that if there are outstanding performances then this becomes your ticket into a spot on the West Indies team. However, West Indian cricketers are said to be the lowest paid out of all the cricket playing nations. The solution to all of this, then, is to pay the fellas handsomely; bring a version of T20 cricket in the Caribbean league that have as much lucrative attraction as the IPL and establish playing venues that can whole capacity crowds beyond what the current venues can hold This can be done if every cricket playing Caribbean island contribute a few million towards the development of that version, so rewards can be lucrative and attractive as well. I am sure this would wet the appetites of other countries to get involve, bringing large followers from overseas to the games. Would this not be a step in the right direction to remove all the excuses from the players mouths and put the board in a better position to show what they true intent and worth towards the development of West Indies cricket really is or lies?

  5. Tony Webster April 7, 2016 at 4:29 am

    It’s “just not cricket”. Can anyone recall the ingredients used in baking a really scrumptious loaf of cricket?

    Let me count the ways I love thee:-
    Raw, rollicking athletic talent.
    Cunning careful understanding of an opponents strengths, and weaknesses.
    A gentleman’s honor
    A raffish, dash of swash-buckling bravado.
    A chance to shine so the girls could admire those rippling muscles.

    Add, in any measure you wish:-
    Politics. (Parochial; local; regional; global- (take your pick)
    Money (billions)
    Evahting at electonic-speed- streamed to your smart-phone
    More money.
    Girls ( sorry…more girls)
    Tourism dollars.

    Bake; enjoy. Cud always blame those blasted Brits…effin it doan come-out “good”.


  6. John Moore April 8, 2016 at 7:05 pm

    Do you get tired with the back and forth over West Indies Cricket ? With the Board and the cricketers? Sure. Is 2016 not 1952 or 1966 or 1975 or 1991? Yea. Should a cricketer with the opportunity to earn and secure a financial future with his/her talents forgo the opportunities? How many of you would turn down $650.000 U.S for a few months in the Indian Cricket league (I.P.L) to play test cricket for the West Indies? Love or no love.
    I really wish that all of our past West Indies cricketers, with all their talent and artistry, that we, the public, got to experience for free, or nearly free, had made millions from their talents. The cricketers today did not choose the time to be born.

  7. Donild Trimp April 11, 2016 at 12:51 pm

    The below article (reprinted by permission) was written when BRIAN LARA had his problems with the WICB. That was years ago.

    Fast forward to today and you will all see that nothing changed from that time to now.

    The Warped Thinking of Educated Fools and Buffoons
    The current foolishness associated with WI cricket leaves one to conclude that the Caribbean society is permeated with educated fools and buffoons. The educated fools direct and run things while buffoons follow like blind mice.

    Judging from comments on this board, from comments made by current and former test cricketers, from politicians throughout the region, from fans of WI cricket and from those in management positions with WI cricket, it is quite clear that the people with intellect, objectivity, wisdom and the ability to think rationally are outnumbered by the increasing additions of these fools and buffoons who are multiplying faster than the feared fanatic conversion to muslin radicalism seen around the world.

    The warped thinking of the WICB Directors in allowing a simplistic and solvable issue to degenerate into such a perilous situation for the future of West Indies Cricket speaks towards a group of people who are self –centered, arrogant and without doubt educated fools without the slightest modicum of common sense.

    It is inconceivable, as a matter of fact, downright unbelievable that a group of people
    who see themselves as pillars of the society they live in and pride themselves on their educational achievements, can be so far removed from reality that they fail to see the irreparable damage being done to West Indies Cricket, the psychological and emotional harm added to the mental stress they are causing the cricketers and the unmistakable weeding away of the one and only remaining fabric that binds the Caribbean community together as one.

    To ignore the historicity of this phenomenological observation accentuates the callous, self-centered and imbecilic reasoning of the educated fools. Add the buffoons who blindly agree with the stupid assertion that it is ok to degrade WI cricket by omitting your best players and the game’s greatest batsman, who incidentally is your own and on the verge of breaking another world record, and the stage is set for what we now see unfolding before our eyes in Sri Lanka.

    It is true that no one person is bigger than the game, this however becomes the logic of imbecilic people when rational thought is missing from the equation as is the case with the WICB Directors.

    There comes a time when a superstar appears on the scene with an exceptional ability to rise above the norm. We enjoy that superstar’s exploits and at the same time accord them an existence of comfort, privilege and respect which they deservedly earned. Brian Charles Lara falls into this category.

    I am not here to pass judgment on the WICB Directors and a facultative CEO who agrees to an issue one day and then disagrees the next day to the same issue he agreed to the previous day. Neither am I here to pass judgment on a manager who is a moral apparatchik, or for that matter on the scabs that are currently representing the WI in Sri
    Lanka because they are all buffoons. I am also not here to pass judgment on Gayle, Sarwan or the jackass attorney who issued a statement on their behalf before seriously thinking of the consequences in issuing such a statement, or on Carib and his followers who believe it is ok to cut off a person’s head to rid them of a headache, or on Owen Arthur who made Dr.Mitchell’s ability as an inter-nuncio insignificant or on Digicell and Teddy Griffith who thought it was ok because massa released a factoid or on Tony Cozier a mythologizer.

    I am here to simply qualify my opinion with a statement which is this. I see them all as Educated Fools and Buffoons.


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