West Indies seek talks with India after legal threat
Hours after India’s powerful board (BCCI) announced they would take legal action against the WICB and were suspending all planned tours of the Caribbean — moves that could have a devastating financial impact on the West Indies — officials gathered at a beachside hotel to deal with the fallout.
The return home of the team after the fourth of five one-day internationals and before three scheduled tests, left India facing losses, according to local media reports, of around $65 million.
After a seven-hour meeting, the WICB issued a statement that was clearly designed to appeal to the BCCI and which did not include any sanctions against players who had quit the tour.
“The West Indies Cricket Board regrets, and is deeply embarrassed, by the premature and unfortunate end to the recent tour of India,” the statement read.
“The WICB once again expresses to the BCCI and all stakeholders — especially the cricket-loving public of the West Indies and India — sorrow for the events leading up to this development.
“The WICB believes a way can be found to repair the damage that has been caused and to ensure similar events do not recur, with the focus being on the betterment of West Indies and world cricket,” the statement added.
As well as requesting a meeting with the BCCI, the West Indies board said they had set up a task force to examine the cause of the tour’s collapse.
The WICB also vowed to “assure Cricket South Africa that it will use its best endeavours to ensure a successful tour of South Africa as scheduled”.
The first of three tests against South Africa is due to start on Dec. 17.
India were due to tour the Caribbean in 2016 and if that tour is lost, the WICB will miss out on lucrative television and sponsorship deals.
The cause of the conflict was a new ‘Memorandum of Understanding’ and collective agreement between the WICB and their union, the West Indies Players Association (WIPA), regarding payment for the cricketers which the leading test players said was signed in September without their consent.
The players said the deal would result in a significant loss of earnings while the WICB argue the new arrangement allows for more cricketers across the Caribbean to be given central contracts.
Grenada’s Prime Minister Keith Mitchell on Tuesday publicly offered his services as a mediator and said the crisis was bad for the entire Caribbean.
“It is a bit frightening for the region, not just for sport, but for our people, our economies on the whole,” he added.
The situation has caused dismay in a region where, despite disappointing performances, there remains a great passion for cricket and pride in West Indies’s past achievements.
There appears little sympathy for any of the disputing parties but former pace bowler Michael Holding put the blame at the feet of the WICB.
“The problem with West Indies is that the WICB always pushes things to the brink and waits till the last moment,” said Holding, now a television commentator. (Reuters)