23rd December 2014
Earlier today the Prime Minister of St Vincent & the Grenadines, Dr Ralph Gonsalves addressed a strongly worded letter to the President of the WICB, Dave Cameron.
In it he expressed anger at the decision to sack Dwayne Bravo as captain of West Indies’ ODI side (in favour of 23-year-old Jason Holder) – and the omission from the WI ODI squad to play South Africa in the New Year of Bravo, Darren Sammy and Kieron Pollard.
All three are widely-recognised as those senior players at the heart of the decision to withdraw the ODI squad from the tour of India recently.
On Saturday, the Convenor of Selectors, Clive Lloyd characterised their omission from the ODI party, and the preference of Holder to Bravo as captain, as being part of a ‘transitional’ process.
There has been no overt statement by either the selectors or the WICB to confirm that the players have been sacked for their part in the India strike – the inference is that they have been dropped on cricketing grounds – although the Caribbean at large has interpreted their exclusion as being for disciplinary reasons in relation to that withdrawal of labour.
When the players returned to the Caribbean from India talks took place between representatives of the players, the players’ union (WIPA) and the WICB, and a meeting was held at the Hyatt Hotel in Trinidad on October 31st.
That meeting was mediated by Dr Gonsalves and Dr Keith Mitchell (the Prime Minister of Grenada), and resulted in an agreement that the players would suffer no ‘discrimination’ or ‘victimisation’ for their actions in India. This agreement was referred to as the Hyatt Accord.
A Task Force comprising Michael Gordon, QC, Sir Richard Cheltenham, QC and Sir Wes Hall was then deputed to investigate the events concerning the cancellation of the tour, and its terms of reference were as follows:
1. Investigate the cause of the actions perpetuated by the players leading to the withdrawal of their services. Based on the facts which emerge, the Task Force will render their opinion of the degree of culpability attributed to the WICB, to the WIPA and to the players and whether the action of the players was justifiable or considered a reasonable course of action.
2. Examine the relationship between the West Indies Players’ Association (“WIPA”), West Indies Cricketers and the West Indies Cricket Board (“WICB”), with a view to making recommendations on the nature and structure of the relationship between WICB and the cricketers (separate and apart from the relationship between WICB and WIPA).
3. Design and propose a fast-track dispute resolution mechanism, which would apply to ongoing tours, and give the players an expedited process through which they could ventilate any issues, so as to mitigate against the risk of future tours ending prematurely as a result of player action.
They reported their findings a little over a week ago, and found that all parties had been negligent and had to share the blame for the outcome. You can read their findings here.
Many members of the WICB were anxious to sanction the players for their actions before the Task Force had reported, and this resulted in a recommendation for all 3 of West Indies international captains to be sacked (Denesh Ramdin the Test captain; Dwayne Bravo the ODI captain; and Darren Sammy the T20 captain). This desire was communicated to Andrew Mason on his Barbados cricket talk show, Mason & Guests (of which I am co-host) on November 4th, which I reported here.
Instead, the Board decided to resist its inclination toward impetuous retribution, and hold fast and wait for the outcome of the Task Force report.
There was concern in some quarters that the Task Force’s report would either exonerate those involved on all sides, or give room for no parties to be held ultimately responsible or negligent.
But many observers felt, including myself, that there had to be some serious level of accountability for an event that was both embarrassing for West Indies cricket, insulting to their Indian hosts, and degraded the world game. But the report was strong enough to point an accusatory finger at all involved, and those three senior players appear to have been severely penalised.
Subsequent to that report, the selectors named their ODI squad for South Africa, omitting Bravo, Sammy and Pollard – presumably closing the door on their participation in the World Cup in the New Year.
While there are divergent opinions on whether or not this action by the selectors is merited (and whether it is at the behest of the WICB), it is generally agreed that the obvious sanction is being blurred behind a smokescreen of ‘transition’. If it is a punishment, let the WICB or selectors say so.
But as many critics have observed in the last day or two, these players have been punished, while the WICB and Mr Cameron have not been held to account. (Sometime before the new year I hope to round up the various news reports and opinions on the latest events, and share my own personal views).
When the sacking of all three skippers was initially mooted, Dr Gonsalves voiced an opinion that such an action would be dishonourable.
If all parties are to share responsibility then Mr Cameron does still have the opportunity to make an honourable gesture.
The actions of the WICB and the selectors have certainly incurred Dr Gonsalves wrath.
He has responded directly in very strong terms with the below letter addressed to Mr Cameron, which was also passed on to the Mason & Guests show, and was read out in full on the programme by myself this evening. You can listen to the show in its entirety here.
To enlarge the text of the documents, just click on the images.
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.