WICB & WIPA Shake Hands – But the Board Still $20m in Arrears

21st September 2014

Quick Singles  

A one-stop WI Rumshop round-up of Caribbean cricket comment, news & views

(Please note that the next Quick Singles round-up will be in October when I return from vacationing in Chicago)

Another week in WI cricket, another week of off-field upheaval – and on-field success. The Caribbean is lately confuting its sleepy reputation with regard to the region’s no.1 game, amid a remarkable hive of activity.

The most significant event of the week was Thursday’s joint announcement by the West Indies Cricket Board and the West Indies Players’ Association at a Press conference held at the Accra Beach Hotel in Christ Church, Barbados. They unveiled the signing of a memorandum of understanding between the WICB and the WIPA, underwriting the reorganisation of domestic regional Caribbean first-class cricket, which is expected to provide continuity playing contracts for 90 West Indian professional cricketers. The Federation of International Cricketers’ Associations (FICA) lauded the signing of the collective bargaining agreement.

The gathering in Barbados also included a meeting of the WICB to ratify the agreement, and to discuss the logistics of the upcoming regional 4-day competition. However, the consideration of naming a new WI Coach was not on the meeting’s agenda, despite calls for clarity on the firing/hiring of the old/new coach, and selection issues.

What surely is on the agenda is the WICB’s present parlous financial position. Hayden Gill in Barbados’ Nation newspaper revealed that the Board is currently nursing a loss of USD$20m over the last two years, and is expected to incur a further loss in this financial year – which concludes at the end of September.

Notwithstanding the region’s financial woes, the mood here is generally one of cautious optimism, with goodwill and support for the restructuring; and a hope that WI cricket will get firmly back on its feet, and take the first nervous steps upwards on an international ladder they are capable of ascending a rung or two.

The practicalities of the system have not been convincingly relayed to the public, and it may be that they are yet to be thrashed out behind closed doors. But the whole process is assuredly a move in the right direction, in a region in which ‘doing nothing’ has been the preferred option for more than a generation.

The agreement has been hailed as a watershed, while Ezra Stuart observed that the two bodies are finally ‘batting together’. Former WI pacer, Adam Sandford was among those who backed the franchise move, while WICB Director, Don Wehby said it will revolutionise the game in the region. Brij Parasanath, Editor of Cricket Records Magazine, called on the WICB to de-centralise cricket in the region, and to take the newly franchised 4-day tournament to venues beyond the Test-playing centres.

Thursday’s event included a press conference in which the WICB’s President, Dave Cameron, the WIPA’s President, Wavell Hinds and Covenor of Selectors, Clive Lloyd all gave their reactions. Lloyd and Hinds also gave interviews to Barry Wilkinson and Andrew Sealey on this week’s edition of Line & Length. The programme is essential viewing to hear their comments.

Hinds said that a big part of the MOU was a ‘buy-in’ from the senior players of the WI team, and he was extremely revealing in his overview of the implications of what the contract now means in terms of WI cricketers’ responsibilities:

“Once this professionalism comes to the fore, I think, as a region we’ll get players going to work everyday, looking after their skills and knowing full well that they are a part of the society. An elite part of society, I may add. As internationals, West Indies cricketers fall into the top 1% of earners in the region, and so I think as much is given as is expected. Our members will know the responsibility lies with them to not only up-skill themselves and develop themselves, but when they stand and execute on the international scene that the WI major shareholders, the fans, and of course all the shareholders, see true quality coming through and get good and just reward at the end of the day.”

Clive Lloyd also commented on specific issues regarding the national side: he reiterated his belief in the ‘West Indies first’ policy, calling for respect for the West Indies team and asked players to be loyal – in particular when WI host England in a 3-Test series that coincides with the IPL. Lloyd also expressed his pleasure with West Indies’ new young players; indicated that Marlon Samuels will be considered for selection on the India tour; and he even fancied WI chances in the World Cup.

On the field, it was also a good week for the men’s and women’s teams, who both enjoyed thumping wins – and the two sides were warmly congratulated on their triumphs by Dave Cameron.

The second Test between WI and Bangladesh concluded on Day 4 on Tuesday, after WI had batted themselves into a strong position on Day 3. Shiv Chanderpaul completed his 30th Test century in the match; debutant, Leon Johnson admitted he was nervous in compiling 66 & 41; while Kraigg Brathwaite followed his 1st Test double century with scores of 63 & 45. The 21-one-year-old’s batting has been a great encouragement, although Andi Thornhill believes the Bajan opener is still a work in progress. Meanwhile, Darren Bravo was fined for making offensive remarks to Bangladeshi batsmen. Brathwaite and Bravo were among the cricketers who made a surprise visit to Dunnottar School in St Lucia on the Thursday preceding the Test.

Kemar Roach took six wickets in the match, and moved up to no.9 in the ICC’s Test bowling rankings, and he has set himself the target of being the no.1 bowler in the world. Suliemann Benn also attained his highest ever ranking, and Jerome Taylor took his 100th Test wicket. The WI remain in 8th place in the Test team rankings, but the win was enough to provide optimism that they could cause a surprise in India and South Africa.

The ever-green Chanderpaul was the scourge of Bangladesh, and he moved up to 3rd in the ICC Test batting rankings. The Cricket365 website made Shiv their player of the week, while Ben Dorries hailed Chanderpaul as a ’40-year-old marvel’. Brydon Coverdale nominated Shiv as ‘My Favourite Cricketer’, while Orville Higgins asked whether ‘Shiv is great?‘. The Jamaica Gleaner seemed to answer that, calling him ‘a modern great’, and ESPN Cricinfo profiled him as a ‘modern master’. Elsewhere, Crispin Andrew profiled Chanderpaul for All Out Cricket, and David Leggat noted that Shiv is not far short of Brian Lara’s all-time WI Test run scoring record. Bharath Seervi also added the odd stat that Chanderpaul is the first ever batsman to witness 500 Test dismissals from the non-striker’s end.

Captain, Denesh Ramdin praised the team’s performance after the game, although most critics preferred to focus on Bangladesh’s shortcomings. Colin Croft described Bangladesh as embarrassing, and said that they took ‘beatings’, while Tony Cozier felt the series was a mismatch.

ESPN Cricinfo’s Mohammad Isam questioned Bangladesh’s tactics, and it was agreed that Bangladesh were short on achievements in the series. Cricwaves looked at the top performers in the series, and Captain, Mushfiqur Rahim was the only Bangladeshi to feature. He rued the team’s constant collapses, while Taskin Ahmed was unhappy with his own personal performances.

West Indies Women completed a 4-0 win over New Zealand Women, an effort dubbed ‘poor’ by NZ cricket, in their ODI series. The win moves WI Women to the top of the ICC’s women’s rankings, while Anisa Mohammed moved to no.2 in the ICC’s Women’s ODI bowling rankings, and Deandra Dottin returned to the batting top 10.

They entered the week 2-0 up, and ahead of the 3rd ODI, Coach, Sherwin Campbell spoke to the media. They won the 3rd ODI by 8 wickets, with Shakera Selman taking the new ball, and grabbing 5-15.

Captain, Merissa Aguilleira was aiming for a clean sweep of the series ahead of the 4th ODI which was won by 4 runs, with Stephanie Taylor making 66. Uncapped Shamilia Connell has been included in the squad for the 3 T20 internationals in St Vincent.

The CLT20 is progressing in India, and despite some observers thinking the tournament is rubbish, it still has plenty of Caribbean participation and interest.

Shamik Chakrabarty profiled the sides in the competition, and Cricket Country focused on the Barbados Tridents. Captain, Rayad Emrit felt the Tridents would hold their own, while James Franklin believed the side had youngsters who could win games.

Ahead of their first match against Kings XI Punjab, Amit Banerjee looked at the key battles, profiled the Tridents’ likely XI; and afterwards he reviewed the game’s highlights.

Mitchell Johnson was ruled out for the Kings XI, and Ravi Rampaul believed the Tridents’ success would be built around teamwork, and added that he felt he was in the form of his life. However, it was Rampaul who leaked 20 runs in his final over which cost the Tridents victory in that opening game. Emrit conceded that his team had made basic errors.

Before the Tridents had even played though, their CPL captain, Kieron Pollard was already heading out of the competition after his side, the Mumbai Indians were eliminated, losing two of their three qualifying games – despite Mike Hussey saying that he and Lendl Simmons had ‘clicked’ as an opening pair. Defeat to New Zealand’s Northern Knights sent them packing, with Pollard admitting that his side had not played well.

In the tournament proper, the Chennai Super Kings and Kolkata Knight Riders contested the opening encounter; with Sunil Narine and Andre Russell appearing for KKR, and Dwayne Smith and Dwayne Bravo for CSK. CSK’s skipper, MS Dhoni was particularly excited about Dwayne Bravo’s return to his side. But it was Narine and Russell who were the match-winners – Narine returning figures of 4-0-9-1, and Russell hammering 58 from 25 balls. He credited the CPL for his form, and added that it was great having Wasim Akram around as an influence. KKR Skipper, Gautam Gambhir admitted he hadn’t seen an innings before quite like Russell’s.

Narine was at it again on Sunday as KKR beat Lahore Lions by 4 wickets. Narine’s figures were 4-1-9-3. Russell failed with the bat and ball this time, but did bring off the spectacular run-out of Nasir Jamshed. KKR are now top of Group A.

Returning to the Caribbean: in Guyana, Sean Devers has said the standard of cricket at U-19 level is improving; and that Guyanese blind cricketers are seeking help from the GCB and the government. The senior’s 4-day tournament has been taking place, which will help select Guyana’s national squad, although the non-inclusion of Rajiv Ivan for the tournament has elicited a letter of disgust to the press.

Meanwhile, there are allegations of electoral fraud against the East Coast Cricket Board; and Guyana’s President, Donald Ramotar has once again proved he can’t resist meddling in cricket, insisting he open the bowling in a joint-services cricket match; and Kellon Carmichael has returned home after a productive stint with Hadleigh & Thundersley CC in the Shepherd Neame Essex Premier League in the UK.

Another successful returnee is Namir Suepaul, who’s back in Trinidad after an English summer with Finchley Cricket Club. T&TCB President, Azim Bassarath wants to see a return of cricket to the Brian Lara Stadium in Tarouba; while in Antigua, talks concerning the ownership of land near the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium could be resolved soon; and in Guyana floodlights have been installed at the Albion Sports Complex.

Grenada’s Prime Minister, Keith Mitchell has called on the Caribbean’s business community to invest in more regional sporting events, like the CPL; while in T&T, Brian Lewis has said that sport is a solution to social ills.

In other news, Cuba is to host the Ambassador’s cricket tournament; the WICB congratulated Sir Hilary Beckles on being named the next Vice-chancellor of the University of the West Indies; Sir Curtly Ambrose’s autobiography will hit the shelves early next year; while a history of 75 Years of Berbice Cricket has been published; and Digicel has acquired the Caribbean’s regional sports broadcaster, SportsMax.

In the UK, Brian Lara helped to raise over £50,000, or Rwf44 million in a charity match at Wormsley in aid of Rwandan cricket, in which an 11-year-old boy plucked from the crowd bowled Lara’s team to victory; and Durham won the RL Cup Final at Lord’s v Warwickshire with Jamaica’s Gareth Breese hitting the winning runs in his last game before retirement.

And finally, news that the Archbishop of Canterbury’s XI defeated the visiting Vatican XI by 6 wickets in a close T20 match between the sides. In a week when 40-year-old Shiv Chanderpaul belied his age to be undefeated and bat WI towards triumph, so a man born literally the day before Shiv did likewise at the St Lawrence Ground. Rob Oram’s mature, poised and (seriously-out-of-) breathless 26no was the difference between the two denominations. Well done, little brother!

The next Quick Singles will appear in October.

David Oram

David Oram is the resident ‘statto’, and sometime presenter of ‘Mason & Guests’ – Voice of Barbados’ weekly cricket talk show, the leading cricket radio show in the West Indies – hosted by the Caribbean’s principal radio commentator, Andrew Mason. You can tweet me at DavidOram@colblimp1983.

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