24th April 2016
The Caribbean cricket podcast
Welcome to edition no. 28 of The Willow in the WIndies.
An immensely busy week for West Indies cricket – almost exclusively off the field.
The biggest news was the report that the BCCI had waived its claim to USD$42m against the WICB, coming out of the ODI players’ strike of October 2014. I wondered if this counted as a triumph for the WIndies Board?
India are visiting the Caribbean for a Test series later this year – but Reds broke the news that the prospective dates for the St Lucia Test have already been moved. Reds is part of a big promotion of the Test there on his island of residence.
In Grenada, a group of West Indies Legends gathered to lend their names to the call for the dissolution of the WICB. Their’s are strong voices which I felt couldn’t just be ignored. Yet opinions in the Caribbean are wildly, and strongly, divergent. Even within Caricom’s own Head of States group, there is some difference of opinion. Antigua’s PM Gaston Browne distanced himself from the hard line against the WICB being taken by the likes of PMs Mitchell and Rowley.
Personally, I feel the Legends involvement signalled ‘first shots fired’ in a potential Caribbean civil war over cricket governance. The WICB did issue a statement in response (they also issued their annual accounting figures up to September 2015 this week); but others were more outspoken in response: former BCA Secretary, Gregory Nicholls on the Mason & Guests show in Barbados particularly so, saying the Legends were being used as ‘pawns in a political game’.
I myself would still like to see the WICB make a more obviously conciliatory response in the face of this huge wave of public opinion. I feel this is a ‘storming of the Bastille’ moment; and it is not good enough to respond with ‘let them eat cake’. Reds feels the Board needs to communicate the message more clearly; and would also encourage WIPA’s Wavell Hinds to do likewise re the players’ union’s position.
Both Reds and I are disappointed by the level of misinformation being circulated: WIndies coach, Phil Simmons, for example, claimed in a recent interview that he and the victorious T20 players had no email wishes of ‘good luck’ or ‘congratulations’ from the WICB or Director of Cricket, Richard Pybus – which is not the case. Reds and I have seen those emails and I read out their brief contents. The same is the case with the allegations that the players’ kit was not ready – yet seven players were holding out before committing to play in the tournament, so their kit was late in being printed. I wondered though, that if coach Simmons is possibly too close to those players – and if it puts him in conflict with Pybus, then his own future must be in some doubt.
Communication on so many levels is obviously poor right now, and Sir Curtly Ambrose is not alone in encouraging all sides to get together to talk. Compromise on both sides is necessary – and we suggested that the inclusion of the excluded players in the upcoming ODI tri-series would be an act of good faith and potential ‘olive branch’.
Moving on to more important issues, Reds told me how much he was looking forward to reading Tino Best’s upcoming autobiography, lurid extracts of which have been appearing in the press. He also said he had ‘no support’ upon his Test debut.
Elsewhere, Chris Gayle has become a father, and named his daughter ‘Blush’; meanwhile James Sutherland indicated that Gayle will not be banned from appearing in the next Big Bash.
Meanwhile, news came through about Franklyn Rose, who was deported from New Zealand. In a press release via WIPA he told of his harrowing experience; and he also told RJR News of his intention to sue the New Zealand government.
On the horizon, West Indies were asked by the PCB to play a couple of their ODIs due later this year in Pakistan itself, rather than the UAE. The Board has respectfully declined. The situation is still not safe enough, in my opinion, for a return of international cricket to the country. Memories of the horrific attack on the Sri Lankan team of 2007 were recalled this week in a BBC interview by umpire Steve Davis, who was caught up in the terrifying incident. West Indies are due, reportedly, to face Afghanistan in three T20s in the UAE after they play Pakistan.
In CPL news, it was announced in Guyana that they will be hosting the semi-finals and final of the tournament – although this news is as yet unconfirmed. What was confirmed was that the Guyanese government are likely to pay USD$1.5m for the event, and will also repay in instalments to the CPL a debt of half-a-million dollars incurred by the country’s previous government. Already, several letters have appeared in the nation’s press asking if this is a good use of public money?
The Barbados Tridents have their own problems, with new owner Dr Vijay Mallya facing warrants for his arrest; and was convicted in his absence in a Hyderabad court for bouncing cheques.
Also in Barbados, the Minister of Sport, Stephen Lashley said in a local radio show that the Barbados government owes the BCA $10m in leasing payments. Meanwhile, the BCA has announced the date for an Emergency General Meeting. The common denominator in so many of these challenging and contentious issues is the parlous financial state of the region.
Finally, we ended the show by noting the tragic early, sudden death of Barbados cricket and sports journalist, Petra Gooding.
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