The dispute over payments to West Indies’s cricketers – a longstanding problem afflicting the team – threatens to disrupt the India-West Indies series. A top source, however, confirmed that the first ODI would go ahead as scheduled. The fate of the rest of the series, though, remains in the realm of conjecture.
Even as speculation about its pull-out was rife, the West Indies team left for the stadium on Wednesday at around 12.20 p.m. A little while before the team’s departure, its ODI skipper Dwayne Bravo was spotted at the lobby in a relaxed mood, smiling and exchanging pleasantries with a local official.
On Tuesday, trouble began to brew following ODI skipper Dwayne Bravo’s letter to the West Indies Players Association (WIPA) president Wavell Hinds, accusing the latter of treating the players like “little school boys”, and arriving at a new memorandum of understanding with the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) sans any consultation with the players. While it wasn’t explicitly stated, the threat of strike action was suggested as Bravo wrote that his team’s morale was “at an all-time low.”
Incidentally, the team didn’t arrive at the ground on Tuesday for pre-match practice. Neither did captain Bravo turn up for the customary captains’ press conference. The West Indies media manager, Philip Spooner, had told The Hindu on Tuesday that there were “internal meetings”, the contents of which he couldn’t divulge.
Sponner didn’t respond to this correspondent’s calls on Wednesday morning. The seeds of the controversy were sowed when, on September 18, Hinds and WICB president Whycliffe "Dave" Cameron signed a fresh collective bargaining agreement and MoU in Barbados. The players, however, resented the proposals which significantly sheared their salaries.
“We are disappointed with the lack of proper representation and the players are now forced to make this proposal without any details as to how this new purported agreement was even arrived at and by whom, since the only advice we have received from you as President and CEO of WIPA is to not sign the contract /agreement that was sent by the WICB,” wrote Bravo.
Meanwhile, the WICB on Tuesday apologised to “fans, the BCCI, and all other stakeholders” in a press release. “The West Indies Cricket Board has been advised that a number of players forming the West Indies One Day International squad currently in India, and scheduled to play five ODIs, commencing with the first ODI on Wednesday October 8, have expressed concerns to WIPA on a number of issues relating to the CBA/MOU recently signed by WICB and WIPA.”
It added that every effort was made to ensure that all commitments were fulfilled and cricket was played. The Board also called for a “reasoned approach,” and said further announcements would be made “as may be necessary.”