The recent pay dispute between Cricket Australia and the country's cricketers has taken the cricketing world by storm and hit Australian cricket hard leaving 230 cricketers unemployed.
With a growing disconnect between cricket boards and players associations each day, West Indies all-rounder Dwayne Bravo — no stranger himself to board-players disputes — has thrown his weight behind the players saying that it's the players who need to be given importance rather than the administrators.
"I think people need to realise that first of all the players are the most important products of anything," Bravo told Firstpost, "The administrators need to treat the players in a particular way. Most people who are in charge feel that they are the important ones, while it's the other way round."
The sport has endured numerous pay dispute problems over the years. Sri Lankan players had long-standing problems with the board. The Bravo-led West Indies team left midway through the 2014 India tour because of a payment structure dispute between the players, the WICB and West Indies Players' Association, that left the BCCI red-faced. A number of South African players have been packing their bags and leaving for England in search of financial security.
Recently, former India coach Anil Kumble had vouched for a pay hike on behalf of the team for centrally-contracted players and the coaching staff while off-spinner Harbhajan Singh had sought Kumble's intervention in helping India's domestic cricketers get contracts for financial security.
In this day and age of endorsements and massive television revenues, Bravo is of the opinion that players are getting smarter and the administrators need to realise that players' value has gone up in the modern era.
"Not long ago the players didn't have much options and choices," Bravo said and added, "Now it's the day and age where there is so much money in sports. You get money off endorsements, players get well paid to wear shoes, particular type of clothing, to use a particular bat sponsor, so there is a lot of money involved in sport. They know their value and worth. So you have to pay players properly."
"I am not surprised about what is going around the world. A lot of people felt it was just the West Indian players but now you can see the Australians and South Africans are also jumping onboard and getting to realise. The older you get, the smarter and wiser you become. So people are not going to keep making the same mistake over and over (again)," Bravo added.
Comparing the earnings in other sport, Bravo said that there was a need to reduce the gulf and strike a balance.
"When you look at other athletes be it in football and basketball, the kind of money that these guys make and earn, there is a big, big difference compared to cricket. So they have to strike a balance and be honest among themselves," Bravo said.
The hard-nosed stand of the ACA again brought to light the importance of players association in cricket. Australia, probaly, has one of the strongers players association in the sport. Bravo is all in for a players association but what matters the most is the players' strong unity, something which has been on display in the onging CA-ACA impasse.
"Players associations are very important. However, it's very important for the players to be united that's more important than the associations," the West Indies all-rounder said. "Because the associations could only do so much as long as the players are all together and on the same page. That's the difference between the players in West Indies and Australia. In West Indies, some of the guys will be happy to make a stand but the others will falter and buckle under the pressure. If you have a strong players association, those things wouldn't happen," he continued.
Amidst the gloom Down Under, there is a flickering light at the end of the tunnel up west in the Caribbean Island as the West Indies stars have been offered temporary amnesty by the WICB, paving the way for the leading cricketers to return to the national ODI side.
Which means we might see Bravo in action as early as in the next month with the Windies touring England for three Tests, five ODIs and one T20I. The Trinidad and Tobago all-rounder has been out of action for seven months following a serious injury suffered during the Big Bash League in December last year. And the Caribbean Premier League might just provide him with much needed practice ahead of the England tour.
After a long lay-off, Bravo will not only face the challenge of making a smooth comeback but there will be added burden of captaincy too as he will be leading his home side Trinbago Knight Riders. But for Bravo, captaincy is more of an honour than a baggage.
"This is the fifth year (I am captaining them) so nothing really changes, Bravo said. "There is another year, another opportunity. It's always good to be a leader. Not only as captain, I enjoy leading guys naturally. This year is no different, it's always an honour to lead the Knight Riders' franchise," the Trinidad and Tobago all-rounder remarked.
Dwayne Bravo is playing for the Trinbago Knight Riders at the Hero Caribbean Premier League. The Biggest Party in Sport runs from 4 August to 9 September