A Pistol Full of Bullets

23rd October 2014

Patrolling the Boundary  – a view from the outfield

Handling the smoking gun

This has not been a period to inspire me to write. The awful events, and then non-events in India have knocked the stuffing out of me. I’m not the only one in the Caribbean right now asking myself ‘do I really care anymore?’ If the players don’t, then why should I? Why can’t everyone just get on and play some cricket?

West Indies cricket is staring into the abyss. Fred Trueman used to famously summarise for the BBC’s Test Match Special with the comments: “I just don’t know what’s going off out there.” Well, he’d be right at the moment. Most of what has been happening in the Caribbean has been going ‘off’, rather than going ‘on’. This is thanks first and foremost to the dictate of Dwayne Bravo. The man commonly known in the region as the ‘show-pony’ has led his villainous cohorts away from the cricket field, and has dragged with him the asinine, spineless and vacuous WICB; and the moronically compliant WIPA – but along with millions of other innocents too, and possibly an entire cricketing ‘nation’.

The crisis in West Indies international cricket is not the only cataclysm currently being played out across the Caribbean cricket scene: the Barbados Cricket Association has parted ways with its newly installed CEO after they belatedly found out he was a convicted crook; the BCA is also USD$6m short of income due to a defaulted real estate payment. But this is nothing compared to the debt the WICB is currently nursing – a USD$20m shortfall, which is expected to continue rising in this financial year – all of which is prior to any future loss of earnings from cancelled Indian tours or any pecuniary vengeance from the BCCI. Meanwhile, the Guyana government has recently stuck its oar once again into the choppy waters of its national cricket organisation, the GCA, and re-imposed its interfering hand on the tiller. If the WICB wasn’t drowning in a sea of its own troubles, and chronically in need of a bailout, it would surely be throwing Guyanese cricket overboard once more. But in the current climate, it hasn’t got much time or interest to concern itself with such relatively ‘small fish’. For WI cricket is crashing on the rocks, and do not be surprised if within moments of the ship sinking, the cry goes up – ‘every man for himself!’

In essence though it is the betrayal at the very top of West Indian cricket – by those that the proud Caribbean people look up to most, the international cricketers – that has so crushed the spirit of the region’s cricket lovers; embittered the grassroots and first-class players; and brought the cognoscenti of the region’s cricket writers, columnists, commentators, broadcasters and summarisers close to tears. Many of us are near a point of despair – and to throwing the towel in. Is it really worth bothering anymore?

It is generally agreed that little good can come from raking over the recent events which have got us to this place; finger-pointing would be counter-productive, and apportioning blame will not be helpful going forward – the direction WI cricket must look and move – rather than backwards with angry remonstrances.

And yet it’s not the whys and wherefores, the rights and wrongs (there are no rights that haven’t been abused or violated, and millions of cricket watchers have been wronged) that has pushed me to hit the keyboard – but rather the way the story is being relayed in the world outside the Caribbean.

For a very long time, the West Indies has been poorly served by international media in covering the game here. The Caribbean is a notoriously insular place, and its sloth in promoting, and reporting its own cricket (especially in the written form) has been profound.

In general, cricket writers here don’t care if their message reaches beyond the islands. The obvious exception to this is of course the great Tony Cozier, who has been a colossus for Caribbean cricket coverage since the 1960s, and to my mind was not only one of the most important influences throughout WI’s period of greatness, but is also, even above the deified CLR James, the region’s greatest writer. I have told him this myself. He naturally told me I was talking absolute nonsense. That was a rare occasion when I disagreed with his opinion.

But the fact is that Tony is now 74, and while he admits privately that in broadcasting terms ‘they have retired him, rather than he has retired’ he writes on – perceptively and astutely, and, through the medium of ESPN Cricinfo, his analyses float beyond the Caribbean sea. But his work is about all there is it in terms of transmitting informed insights from the within to the without.

A few other good writers appear sporadically on Cricinfo (e.g. Garth Wattley) and a few more very ordinary, amateur writers pop up from time to time on the site’s ‘Cordon‘ pages or ‘Inbox’. There are many good writers here in the Caribbean, like Vinode Mamchan and Fazeer Mohammed in Trinidad, Tony Becca in Jamaica, Sean Devers in Guyana or Keith Holder, Ezra Stuart, Haydn Gill, Philip Hackett and Mike King in Barbados; and some knowledgable, enthusiastic ex-players like Colin Croft – but they have not been promoted or had their coverage distributed more widely. Equally, WI cricket has not been monitored properly by the rest of the cricket world, and it is often the case that uninformed low-end tabloid journalists lazily make glib assessments and kangaroo-court judgements on what is going on, and ‘off out there’.

Thus, when truly momentous off-field events occur here, the international press is sometimes left making either intuitive guesses, or base reports on restricted viewpoints – rather than being able to genuinely feel the pulse and heartbeat of the region. For a region that is so important, so historic and so proud, it is poorly served by the cricket writing community. Perhaps that’s not surprising in an era when many newspapers are so poor and unprofessional. But it is disappointing that the otherwise magnificent ESPN Cricinfo still does not have a proper, knowledgable, and respected correspondent in the Caribbean. Cricinfo – please offer the job to Vinode Mamchan! That is assuming of course that George Dobell can’t be persuaded to relocate out here? Come on, George, you know you want to!

All of the above ranting on my part is mere preamble to my irritation at what I perceive to be a misrepresentation of the collective view in the Caribbean on the current crisis. Whilst agreeing that we must move on and steer away from the ‘blame game’, most experienced analysts out here acknowledge the culpability of the West Indies team. The group of ODI players who unilaterally decided to curtail the tour of India are the ones that have ultimately brought shame upon a great cricket nation’s good name, heritage and culture – and that may yet be its sad final legacy.

Yes, it is unequivocal that the WICB and WIPA have been negligent, arrogant, high-handed, intransigent – call it what you will – but in the final analysis they didn’t bring down the curtain. They should have seen it coming and acted more quickly. But they didn’t. Dwayne Bravo and his sour band of do-baders yanked hard and pulled it down in a selfish act of closure which gave not one jot of thought to the wider implications for themselves, West Indian cricket, Caribbean culture, or to any individual person or wider collective responsibility beyond their own immediate financial aspirations.

It is not surprising that today Marlon Samuels, in a radio interview, has been the first of the ODI squad members to distance himself from the ‘collective’ decision to abandon the tour. There may well be others – I know for example that there was widespread disagreement within the squad about whether or not they should strike, and that the younger players had little or no input into the ‘frank exchange of views’. Sharda Ugra, Senior Editor for ESPN Cricinfo in India, went further when speaking on the website to suggest conspiratorial contrivance by Bravo and his renegades: “The West Indies players, led by Dwayne Bravo have planned this very carefully and smartly – they picked the right tour to do this, and they picked the right time to take a decision like this. Players like Dwayne Bravo, Dwayne Smith, Pollard and Sammy know they wouldn’t be stopped from playing cricket elsewhere in the world.”

In amongst all this mess, it’s also conveniently forgotten or overlooked that the international players do not have the support of their first-class colleagues back home. Early on in the back-and-forth angry exchanges between Dwayne Bravo and WIPA’s President, Wavell Hinds, Bravo called for the earlier pay-structure negotiations to be reopened and re-put to the membership. An odd request, because the same outcome would result – the international players would lose.

There are somewhere near five to ten times as many ordinary first-class cricketers in the Caribbean as there are regular internationals – does Bravo really think they would vote for him and his mates to have a greater share of the lolly at their expense? It’s hardly surprising that the new MOU/CBA was popular amongst the playing rank and file.

Tino Best, who has known varying days of fatter and thinner pay packets, came out early on Twitter in support of Wavell Hinds:

“Hope All the first class cricketers across the region show @WWHINDS full support. Finally we can pay a mortgage and eat decent @wiplayers.”

A few days later Tino spoke to us on the Mason & Guests show in Barbados:

“If you’re trying to get a good product, you start from the bottom – not the top… you get good fruit from proper soil.”

“We West Indies players get paid well, we play in the IPL, the Big Bash etc and make a good living.”

“What Wavell is doing is tremendous. There’s ten, maybe twelve guys in India against two hundred what are here in the Caribbean.”

“There’s too much bullying. There’s too many people who want power.”

On the subsequent show this week I suggested that the international players are unlikely to have much support for their stance within their own union, and thus it would seem possible, perhaps even inevitable that the group of contracted international West Indies cricketers will have to break away and form their own separate players union, and negotiate their own separate contract deals.

That of course is something for the future. To return to the events in India as they unfolded it is accepted that all the characters in this farce had a wider responsibility – the WICB, WIPA, the ODI players and also the BCCI all had a duty. While the WICB’s and WIPA’s obligations may have been ill-considered or glossed over, and the BCCI’s concerns were as usual totally self-regarding – none of them did anything to deliberately tarnish cricket itself. In their act of abandonment the ODI players were wilful, destructive and malevolent. The conflict between the parties was an unseemly game of brinkmanship, which had a very messy ending, because those players forgot the first rule of playing Russian roulette: you don’t load all the chambers.

As I’ve said, most people in the region now quite rightly want to move swiftly on from this, and while pausing only to mutter ‘how did it ever come to this?’, avoid the reductive ‘blame game’. That will achieve nothing, and West Indies cricket faces the prospect of having literally nothing left unless it is big enough to move on.

So it has been disappointing that despite several well-balanced articles, and media comments within the region from the likes of Tony Cozier, Reds Perreira, Garth Wattley, Barry Wilkinson, Vinode Mamchan, Andrew Mason, Simon Crosskill, Fazeer Mohammed, Colin Croft, Ian Bishop, Jeffrey Dujon, Andy Roberts, etc that it has been Michael Holding’s comments for Wisden India that have appeared to make the most impact. He squarely blames the WICB for all the woes, and he is of course entitled to his opinion and that interpretation.

But this is not a view those other distinguished analysts share, but unfortunately Holding’s view has been the one picked up internationally, for example by the UK’s exemplary Cricket Correspondent, Mike Atherton as the ‘Caribbean view’. (You can read his article for The Times, and my comments here). This misrepresentation does not help the situation, and especially does not assist the WICB’s immediate necessity to regain some kind of international credibility, and more importantly sympathy, if they and West Indies cricket is to survive. It may not be in a writer’s remit to foster this, and possibly not in a newspaper’s best interests for ‘good copy’, but on rare occasions, such as this, the power of the pen can be not merely a very important tool, but a weapon of positive impact.

This is not in any way meant as a criticism of either Mike Atherton or Michael Holding. Atherton is one of the world’s finest, and fairest cricketer writers, while ‘Mikey’ is an intelligent, even-handed broadcaster. Both are entitled to give their assessment – it is just a pity that the position taken by them both is based upon one-man’s opinion – and these are two of the most influential writers and thinkers in the world game, so that position is being represented as the inside view. And it’s not their fault that it’s carrying a disproportionate weight to the wider world. This is only one effect of decades of West Indian insularity with regard to communication with the rest of the cricket world. Atherton and Holding are not to blame; the Caribbean press and media is – and ESPN Cricinfo is the best placed to remedy it.

One or two other views have been aired internationally which do not echo Holding’s beration of the WICB: I recommend Peter Miller and Freddie Wilde’s Geek & Wilde podcast; Dennis Freedman’s special edition of his Can’t Bowl, Can’t Throw podcast (although of course the fact that I was his guest on the show does totally undermine any argument I may be making about ‘balance’!)  – but I especially direct everyone to the comments and measured analysis by the always articulate George Dobell, Senior Correspondent for ESPN Cricinfo in the UK. George knows the Caribbean very well, is a regular visitor to the region, and thoroughly understands the people, its culture and its heritage. In this week’s Switch Hit podcast for Cricinfo he spoke brilliantly, and passionately about what all this means for West Indies’ cricket, and more importantly for West Indies’ people and culture. Please go and listen to it here.

In the programme, George comments: “I wonder if the top players realise the seriousness of what’s happened here? The end result of this could be appalling. There’s a possibility West Indies could be suspended by the ICC; the ECB are right now looking at contingency plans for the England tour to the Caribbean. The West Indies are absolutely on the brink of annihilation.” And of the striking players, he said: “I think they’ve been really thick.”

He is absolutely 100% on the mark in his appraisal. George was also kind enough to join us on the line from the UK for this week’s Mason & Guests show, despite it being well past midnight in England, to share his views with a Caribbean audience.

I’ve been fortunate in recent days to correspond about the whole debacle with among others, John Holder (who dubbed the players ‘greedy’), Dr Rudi Webster (who wrote this fine piece counselling reconciliation), and Reds Perreira, who I’ve also spoken to regularly. On the day of the strike he said to me: “A very sad day for West Indies cricket. Obviously Clive Lloyd must have found a situation where he didn’t have a team for the tour to go on. Bravo has won, but perhaps cricket has really lost.”

I confess that the events have left me with little enthusiasm for cricket at the moment. With this whole fiasco coming a week after the fallout from Kevin Pietersen’s book and the unpleasantness surrounding that has left me feeling not only bitter about the game I love – but wondering if those that actually get paid to play it do so with any amour whatsoever?

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.


20 thoughts on “A Pistol Full of Bullets

    1. realthog

      No, thank you. I’ve been getting my cricket news mainly from t’Grauniad, the Indy, the Beeb and Cricinfo, and your blog is adding a genuine extra dimension to my understanding. Many thanks for it!

  1. mike atherton

    you took the time to comment on my piece- so i’ll reciprocate. thanks for your post at the times (which i replied to) and the above piece. the point is well taken and noted. i would argue that mikey holding’s argument ( he is a very fair man and broadcaster as you say) formed only a small part of the piece i wrote in the times which was equally critical of wipa and dwayne bravo and the rest of the players. a mess all around. the guyanese half of my family keeps me pretty well informed! let’s hope they can sort things out before long.
    best wishes
    mike atherton

    1. David Oram Post author

      Thank you so very much for taking the time to reply to both my initial response to your article, and now to my piece. I admit that your article gave me the nudge to write more widely about my disappointment with cricket coverage of/by the Caribbean, and wasn’t meant in anyway to be a criticism of your excellent journalism, or the continued mastery, with unbiased honesty, both yourself and Michael Holding have of the microphone. I think what shines through from many angles is the love so many of us have for West Indies – and our devastation at seeing it sink so low. In retrospect, isn’t it a shame, however unsurprising, that Stanford turned out to be a crook? Can we imagine an alternate universe where his money and ECB support is rebuilding the Windies back towards the place we wish they were in world cricket? What a pity! Please keep broadcasting and writing (with the departure of Simon Barnes, you are the sole reason I maintain my online Times subscription) as you do for another 30-40 years. Things may improve – and then again we may yet look back to now as ‘the good old days’. If I bump into you sometime along the Boardwalk or outside Chilli Moos I will say ‘hi’. All the very best, David

  2. Terry Finisterre

    I especially share your views on Mr Holding’s commentary and the level of currency they are being given. Especially for a man who has had so little to do with West Indies cricket in recent years, it seems ridiculous that his views are the most powerful on this situation. In posting his column to Facebook, someone said “I would love to hear what Tony Cozier has to say now!” To which I had to point out that Mr Cozier had been writing about this situation for weeks, in a far more balanced, professional and informed manner than Mr Holding.

    1. David Oram Post author

      Terry – many thanks for your feedback, really appreciate you taking the time to read and comment. Perhaps my piece may give Cricinfo and international newspapers a nudge to monitor the WI game a little less remotely on autopilot mode? And then again, perhaps it won’t. A couple of simple Google Search alerts would provide more rounded Caribbean coverage than currently appears in sports columns in the rest of the world.

  3. David Oram Post author

    Terry – Thanks for your reply. I tend to agree with you. On most things I think Michael Holding is fair and balanced, but I sometimes feel he stills has an axe to grind with the WICB. He is of course entitled to his view (and he may be right!), but there does need to be balance – and the larger part of the Caribbean’s cricket writing community is failing to be heard or represented internationally (for a variety of reasons). David

  4. Michael Oram

    Superb analysis of the overall situation. The so-called superstars of West Indies have forgotten that the game is bigger than the player.Even the ECB seemed to remember this when they ‘sacked’ Kevin Pietersen.

    1. David Oram Post author

      Thanks Dad! Support from the ‘old man’ further undermines my calls for ‘balance’, but then it’s great for the old ego.

  5. Pingback: More Links and Some Feedback re the WI Players’ Strike | Roland Butcher's Hook

  6. chrisps

    I rely a lot on cricinfo for insight into cricket beyond the UK. Most often, I think, it delivers. It’s very worrying that it has got this story so wrong, or at least failed to explore the other side to the story. Thanks for informing me, although I wish it was about something more uplifting.

    1. David Oram Post author

      Many thanks for your feedback! And yes I think a lot of us need some genuine cricketing ‘uplift’! Can we perhaps hope that the World Cup will be as good as the last one down under in ’92? That would help!

  7. clivejw

    David, I came here as the result of a recommendation from Dmitri Old, and I am glad I did so. The quality of your writing is an instant attraction. Let’s hope this situation can be sorted out quickly and amicably. The idea of a Cricket World Cup without the West Indies is unthinkable, and though the West Indies have slipped in the world test rankings in the past decade and a half, they remain part of the fabric of the game. I hope you have more cheerful things to write about real soon.

    1. David Oram Post author

      Thank you so very much for your delightfully supportive comments! And yes I’m indebted to Dmitri for so kindly spreading the word about my article. I agree with you re the landscape without the West Indies team. The cricket world would not merely be poorer for their absence, but seriously subsistent. It is frightening to think that the BCCI could in all conscious consider forcing such an eventuality. Should they do so, I can only hope the collective conscience of the game decides to abandon them to their own world of mega bucks sub-continental T20 while the rest of us return to playing proper cricket purely for the love of it. But then again I am a foolish idealist and unrepentant romantic. ‘O my Hornby and my Barlow long ago!’

  8. wrongunatlongon

    Thanks for this clivejw (though I’d have probably got there via Dmitri had clive’s Graun post not gotten there first).

    Excellent article; yours is clearly a thought-out and very well-argued position. I do wonder who orchestrated this decision most forcefully among the players – you’ve got to assume the captain Bravo was a big driver of the motion? I also wonder whether there was any thought to promoting a load of second stringers for the remaining fixtures once this result became a possibility?

    1. David Oram Post author

      Thank you for reading and for your feedback!
      I began to briefly answer your points, and have found myself writing another lengthy piece! Thank you for the inspiration!

      Marlon Samuels yesterday rejected the notion that the strike by West Indies’ ODI team was unanimous. He may not be the last member of the returned tour party to reveal that he wanted to ‘play on’. In response, Dwayne Bravo has published his latest missive, in which he insists that he was unaware of Samuels’ position, but that he was the ONLY squad member not wholly supportive of the strike stance. This may be news to the likes of Jason Holder and Leon Johnson, who would have been understandably quiet,submissive and compliant in the circumstances.

      It does appear that Dwayne Bravo is the main antagonist on behalf of the players (though several people have commented to me that his epistles have the heavy whiff in language and style of Wavell Hinds’ predecessor at the helm of WIPA – if not his literal signature or fingerprints) – although Bravo has reminded people that all three West Indies captains were on the India tour, and were fully cooperative parties in taking the strike option:


      With a great deal of opinion in the Caribbean being critical of the players, pushing for punishment, punitive action and a scapegoat or two to string up, it was predictable that Bravo would put into effect the ‘it wasn’t just me, guv’ defence. The Jamaica Observer in an editorial today said: “It’s difficult to see how Dwayne Bravo and the other ring leaders in the appalling decision to withdraw from the tour will continue to represent the West Indies.”

      Many critics counsel conciliation in the crisis, but it’s entirely possible we may yet see some heads on pikestaffs. Bravo is insistent it shouldn’t be just his paraded outside the city gates. Dwayne is not built of the stuff of which martyrs are made.

      Tweets by Ramdin and Sammy both during and after the tour seem to support his position. However, if that was the case, why on Earth didn’t they present themselves as a united triumvirate at the time? This would have given them far more authority and credence.

      I believe Ramdin as Test Captain was a little more nervous about the collective stance, and has aspirations to hang onto the mantle, and thus has left himself a little wriggle room to fall back on plausible deniability – especially with an existing track record of petulant outbursts (‘yea Viv, talk nah’) and dubious sporting ideals (that claimed catch in the Champions Trophy).

      Sammy, meanwhile having been unceremoniously dumped by the WICB as Test skipper early this year probably feels he’s done his fair duty to the greater good of the Caribbean cause, and owes no further debt of allegiance. Despite leading WI to a T20 World Cup, and 6 consecutive Test victories – instead of getting the plaudits and rewards that were his just desserts, he got less than a handshake and a carriage clock for the mantelpiece – he got the boot on the eve of that same Champions Trophy in which Ramdin was suspended for cheating.

      I genuinely believe that if the WICB hadn’t misguidedly relieved Sammy of the ODI captaincy at that time in favour of Bravo a lot of the current calamities would have been avoided. Bravo was not the man capable to lead the team with the essential ‘all for one, and one for all’ attitude that’s needed. He is renowned as an ‘every man for himself’ (and his bank balance) character.

      As for Sammy, he found himself in a similar position to Mike Gatting some 25 years ago. Sacked as skipper for ‘impropriety’ a few months after the Shakoor Rana affair, he led the rebel tour to South Africa in 1989 less as an act of political protest, or statement of financial independence, but as a ‘bollocks to you’ two-fingered gesture to the authorities that had shat on him.

      I suspect that is exactly how Sammy feels right now. Gatting has recovered from that ignominy to be a beloved establishment figure, and I very much hope Sammy can do the same in the future if he can distance himself from this mess.

      Earlier this year I and my brother Keith chatted to Sammy at a British High Commission function in Barbados (they’d struck up an amused acquaintance and mutual understanding after finding they had directly coinciding urinal visiting requirements). After the latest burst of relief we three talked for a while, and I urged Sammy to ‘hang on in there’ as Captain, as I felt he was the single most important contemporary figure in West Indian cricket – in his role as the great unifier, entrusted with the baton passed down from the late Sir Frank Worrell. He said he would do everything in his power to do so.

      He has never captained West Indies in a Test Match since. He was sacked before the home series v New Zealand (which under Ramdin was lost 2-1), two years after they’d been beaten by Sammy’s team 2-0 in the Caribbean. The influence of Sammy the leader has been deeply missed on, and even more importantly, off the field in Test and ODI cricket.

      Sammy had the necessary qualities to unite West Indies cricket in the Worrell or Clive Lloyd manner, and I still believe he can do the same off the field in the future if he can extricate himself from this imbroglio.

      It is no coincidence that the current tragedy has unfolded at a time when West Indies cricket is bereft of strong leadership. In the past 12 months the WICB has dispensed with its ODI Captain, its Test Captain, its Chairman of Selectors and selection panel, and its Coach (Ottis Gibson yesterday confirming that he was indeed sacked, not ‘separated’ by mutual agreement). Is it surprising therefore that they seem also to have dispensed with international player contracts, and maybe soon international cricket too?

      Would the cowardly withdrawal of the troops from India have been permitted under Ottis’ stewardship? He was just as much identified as Sammy in promoting the ‘one-team’ ethic within the WI side. Without either of them rallying the team, the players have headed in a separate direction, with wholly separate, and separating ideals.

      Instead of Gibson, Sammy and the ‘one-team’ ethic, the recent tour party had as its mentors an interim coach, a bowling coach (two of the three recently knighted Antiguans, Sir Richie Richardson and Sir Curtly Ambrose) and the newly installed ‘Convenor’ of selectors, ‘Sir’ (he isn’t knighted – why not?) Clive Lloyd.

      Lloyd earlier this year preached and practiced a ‘West Indies first’ policy, which Sunil Narine fell foul of when not back in time from the IPL to take part in pre-series training ahead of the NZ Tests. The latest ‘foul’ by which Narine was ‘felled’ ahead of the India tour must have contributed towards the discord and disharmony in the tourists’ dressing room. Certainly, any notion of ‘West Indies first’ was entirely rejected by the players.

      Clearly, however much gravitas Lloyd, Ambrose and Richardson had personally, their positions were either too new or too fragile to carry enough weight to influence the players into seeing the bigger picture and making an informed choice to keep playing, ‘for the greater good’. I honestly believe that the far less personally respected former Coach and Captain would have carried the day with their professional respect and authority if they’d still been in those roles. And whose fault is it that they weren’t? You cannot blame anybody other than the misguided, incompetent and petty WICB for that one.

      Despite a significant amount of time having elapsed since the cancellation of the tour, little of significance has occurred. On Tuesday of this week the WICB issued a portentous press release, after several hours of Board-member bickering, that carried little more significance than a classic office ‘holding email’. At least someone somewhere within the organisation has done some basic corporate training. But beyond Bravo’s latest letter, which to me at least smacks of ‘methinks the lady doth protest too much’, there’s been no progress.

      Bravo gibbers on about ‘the facts emerging’ – a phrase that was unconvincingly banded about by both the ECB and Kevin Pietersen throughout 2014, and I’m still none the wiser. Why is it so many people in conflict situations confuse ‘opinions’ and ‘points of view’ as ‘facts’? This sort of loud self-justification does tend to turn me against the protester.

      The question has been raised whether there ‘was any thought to promoting a load of second stringers for the remaining fixtures?’ This is a point that needs some clarification from both the WICB and the BCCI. In the press on the day of the strike it was widely reported that a replacement WI team had been mooted, and rejected as ‘impossible’. This was universally interpreted as being the response the BCCI made to a request by the WICB to provide new players. I have not seen it confirmed anywhere that is what actually happened. It is possible that the WICB felt that providing a replacement team was either logistically or financially ‘impossible’, and so could could not entertain the notion in a practical sense. However, it may very well be a fact that such an idea was rejected by the Indian board, and that they were the ones who considered India playing a west Indies 2nd XI as an ‘impossibility’. If so, why?

      On this week’s Mason & Guests show, Dr Don Marshall asked us to consider that exact scenario. If, for whatever reason, the West Indies Cricket Board presents a team to their hosts, declaring them to be ‘our chosen XI’, what right do they have (or do they think they have) to reject it?

      Don made this observation to Cricinfo’s George Dobell, and he conceded that Dr Marshall was making a very good point. Does a host nation have any right whatsoever to interfere in the selection of a touring team’s nominated players and then refuse them? Was this not the very point upon which MCC’s 1968 tour of South Africa was cancelled? And if the BCCI did indeed make such a refusal, do they not then share some of the blame for the cancellation of the tour? Are their hands as unsullied in this dirty affair as they would claim?

      I’d be interested to know which Board it was that said ‘no’ to the involvement of back-up players. I’d also like to know exactly when the BCCI began negotiations for Sri Lanka’s fall-back 5-match ODI series. That was put into place ever so quickly and smoothly!

      There are still a lot of unanswered questions out there, and a lot of guilty people.

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