27th October 2014
Patrolling the Boundary – a view from the outfield
“That’s the way to do it!”
Reaction and opinion to the WI players’ strike crisis has been in abundant supply, even if any tangible developments haven’t. I do intend to compile a blog piece collecting up all the best writing on the issue, together with links, from the last couple of days or so – alongside all the feedback and reactions I’ve had to my previous two articles on the crisis, which includes a piece sent to me by John Holder. You can still read my earlier items here and here if you haven’t already done so.
In addition to intelligent views in print within the Caribbean from Tony Cozier, Tony Becca, Keith Holder, Colin Croft (amongst several others) there’s also been some good stuff from beyond the boundary by Simon Barnes, Ed Smith, Vic Marks etc. If I weren’t being pressed by the dear lady wife to get changed to go out for dinner I’d gather that all up this evening – but as it is it’ll have to wait another day or so.
I do want to take a moment to thank a couple of people who’ve spread my views out to a wider readership, promoting this site by providing links to it via their own far more polished, and popular blogs. Many thanks to Dmitri Old at How Did We Lose in Adelaide, and Dennis Freedman at Dennis Does Cricket. I’d also like to thank Clivejw who directed people to Roland Butcher’s Hook via the comments section of Vic Marks’ article. Ta folks! You’ve all been very kind. As I say, I’ll gather up all of this material in an easily accessible, user-friendly round-up piece anon.
Time now to get to the point:
Last night wild rumours were widely circulating that some of the players from the striking ODI squad were breaking ranks from the ring-leaders of the industrial action, distancing themselves from the decision and trying to make peace with the WICB. The story was that those reluctant revolters had flown to Jamaica for talks with the Board in the hope of forming the basis of the next international West Indies team, and that the WICB was dismantling its investigative ‘task force’ before it had even been formed – leaving the Board free to banish the recalcitrants and move on to the next stage: regaining credibility with the rest of the international cricket community, and avoiding crippling bankruptcy. All pretty straightforward then!
But the day dawned and no confirmation of the story had emerged – which doesn’t mean that it it isn’t true. It may be. It may not be. But it certainly isn’t publicly true yet.
What has come out is a further bland joint statement by the WICB and WIPA saying that a few people had had a very nice meeting and it was all very ‘cordial’ and ‘fruitful’ – sounds just like a bottle of pleasant and refreshing lemon squash! Well that’s all sorted then. All friends again!
Some real news, real action must occur soon. The rest of the cricket world can’t hold its breath indefinitely, waiting to see if the submerged West Indies bobs up to the surface again, or if it does indeed drown in the depths of the Caribbean Sea.
The strike ring leaders have made progress – Bravo, Sammy and Pollard are heading off to South Africa for the Ram Slam T20 tournament, along with Andre Russell and Chris Gayle for the competition that begins on November the 2nd – which should have been Day 4 of the 1st Test v India. Gayle is the only one of the five who’d have been likely to have been involved in the Test Match part of the India tour – but any possible conflict of interest for him was removed by the other four being party to the tour’s abandonment before he even got there. Thanks for that, guys!
ESPN Cricinfo has reported that while there in South Africa, the quintet are expected to engage in dialogue with representatives of FICA (the Federation of International Cricketers Associations) about the recent ‘fracas’. That all sounds ever so helpful too! And a good opportunity for a lot more barley water.
In an editorial, Guyana’s Kaieteur News comments upon the incredible irony that all of these players must have applied for NOCs from the WICB, which have presumably been granted, at the very same time as they are in direct conflict with the Board over their perceived restrictions on making even more money. And while they are off lining their pockets with geld for playing a few hours of sloggit a week, what is the likes of Kraigg Brathwaite supposed to do to improve his own personal prosperity?
The Test Match cricketers in the West Indies, the younger guys with careers ahead of them and more realistic earning opportunities in the longer form of the game, are the players who have really suffered from the tour’s cancellation. Dwayne Bravo, Sammy, Pollard and Dwayne Smith can afford to have an ‘I’m alright, Jack’ attitude to West Indies cricket, and they’ve demonstrated that in no uncertain terms. When we hear of divisions within the ODI squad over the issue of striking, and hear rumours of some players wanting to recant and be accepted back into the fold, it isn’t difficult to guess which side of the fence most of the strikers sit. There may be one or two surprises – but don’t be surprised for example if we find out that the skipper didn’t have the 100% support of his own brother.
It has already come out today that Captain Dwayne doesn’t have support from his island cricket board for his actions, the TTCB coming out with quite a strongly worded statement condemning the strike by him and his team. This was encouraging because there had been a worry that while some regional conspiracy theorists smelled a cosy Jamaican relationship between the WICB and WIPA, there was a possibility that the Trinidadians might side with the players. This stand-off is not going to be helped or resolved by additional shows of insularity or separatist, nationalist posturing. It may yet all come to that of course, but let’s try to avoid it if we can for now.
The TTCB statement did inspire the up-to-now curiously quiet Dinanath Ramnarine to pop his head up above the parapet to voice his disquiet. The former President of WIPA is supposed by some to be the guiding hand behind Dwayne Bravo’s Mr Punch persona, and even if it is perceived that Bravo is the one brandishing the baton, it’s Ramnarine pulling the strings. It is said that Ramnarine, having left his position with WIPA to pursue a career in politics in Trinidad, now wants his old job back, his political aspirations having floundered.
How much of all this is true I honestly don’t know (as an adopted Bajan, I haven’t immersed myself into Trini domestic details) – and thus I’m guilty of peddling gossip. Heresay maybe, but it may have some veracity, and more than a little background contextual bearing on the unfolding events. Nonetheless, whatever Ramnarine’s own personal stake in the crisis is, he was sufficiently annoyed by the TTCB statement to take to Twitter this afternoon, and in a series of six tweets, said the following (as printed):
I understand that there is a release by the TTCB that I did not support a motion to condemn the action by the WI players on d India tour
I did not support and indicated that it wud be premature to condemn any side without knowing the facts and seeing that a task force
has been set up by the WICB to get all the facts of this matter. It is unfortunate that the TTCB would do such, action without details.
It’s is most unfortunate that Mr.
Bassarath and Mr. Mahabir two WICB Directors who participated in WICB meeting to set up task force
supported this premature and one sided condemnation. I suppose this is evidence and an example as to why we are in this position & low state
supported such a decision.
So that’s someone else now not happy. Is there anyone at all in the West Indies cricket fraternity who’s got anything to be pleased about at the moment? Oh yes, I forgot about the Ram Slam, thank you, Ma’am T20. Dwayne, Darren and Kieron are probably quite cheerful tonight, and feeling pretty pleased with themselves.
A slice of something for your gin and tonics, guys?
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.