On September 18, Hinds and WICB president Whycliffe “Dave” Cameron, both Jamaican nationals, signed a fresh collective bargaining agreement and MoU in Barbados, putting behind a saga of bitter and acrimonious disputes between the two bodies which had resulted in frequent threats of player strikes at a time when West Indies cricket had hit rock bottom.
Cameron called the new agreement a “watershed” moment while Hinds said it promoted meritocracy providing a fair share of WICB revenue going to the regional players unlike the old structure where the majority share went to international players.
But Bravo and his team-mates insisted that they would want the old structure back. Only because under the new MoU, the players “understand” their Test, ODI and T20 fees “have been decreased by 75%”; that they will receive “no compensation for the use of our rights. That has been decreased by 100%”; and their ICC fees have been “decreased by close to 100%”.
Sources could not say when the MOU issues reached Bravo and the players in India but the first sign that all was not well was West Indies skipping the scheduled training session on Tuesday afternoon as well as the media briefing without giving any reason.
In an extraordinary and unprecedented move, the West Indies players came out strongly against Hinds, who they claim “hoodwinked” them and did not take their inputs while signing the MOU.
It leaves open the possibility of strike action again and in a approximate thousand-word letter, the players’ representative, Dwayne Bravo, wrote that the morale within the team, as they prepare for the first ODI against India, to be played today in Kochi, was “at an all-time low.”
It is not yet clear whether the players would indeed go on strike during the India series which includes five ODIs and one Twenty20 followed by three Tests.
Such a development appears not far-fetched as the letter noted: “We wish to make it very clear that should the players be forced to take matters into their/our own hands, we will not hesitate to take the appropriate action as see fit. We will hold you and the WIPA Board who support this process liable.”
The letter stated that the first time any agreement was seen by the players was a match/tour contract with a new fee structure “significantly different from what we received in the past. This was given to us in India,” Bravo said. It also said the players had been trying to seek answers for Hinds who had not responded, which prompted them to carry their own investigations after which they found out “little or no legal advice” had been taken by WIPA.
The WICB issued a press release in response yesterday evening, stating an apology “to the fans, the Board of Control for Cricket in India, the BCCI and all other stakeholders should the first ODI be disrupted as a result of player action.
The WICB is making every effort to ensure that it fulfills all its commitments and that cricket is played, the release said.”
Bravo said that the West Indies team management including team manager Richie Richardson, WICB team director Richard Pybus and Clive Lloyd, the selection committee chairman were made aware of the players’ stand.
As a way forward the players want WIPA to re-negotiate the agreement with WICB after the players have included their inputs.