Dubai, United Arab Emirates: Viv Richards on Thursday threw his considerable support behind the West Indies squad who are locked in a bitter pay dispute which is threatening their participation in the World Twenty20.
The West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) could be forced to send a second string to the prestigious tournament in India next month if the 15-man squad refuse to sign contracts before Sunday's deadline.
"In these modern times individuals know exactly what is their worth and when you have a tournament with Chris Gayle, Dwayne Bravo, Kieron Pollard and Darren Sammy, all these are great Twenty20 players," Richards told AFP.
Sammy, the captain of the team and the man who led the West Indies to the 2012 World Twenty20 title, earlier this week wrote to the WICB asking them to reconsider what he described as an 80 percent pay cut in players' fees for the tournament.
It is the latest in a series of disputes between the players and the WICB -- in October 2014, the team abandoned their tour of India in another row over money.
Richards said that players should be given contracts much more in advance.
"What I believe is that sometimes the problem is that the board gives contracts too late and may be that doesn't give the players time to digest what is good and what is not good and they ask them to sign that immediately," he claimed.
West Indies great Richards said it will be a significant loss if a second-string team is sent to the World Twenty20, to be staged from March 8-April 3.
"I am hoping common sense prevails, if everyone comes to a mutual understanding then I think it will be okay. The World Twenty20 would miss all these guys."
Sammy claims that players have been offered just $6,900 per match in India with around $27,600 to be made if a player features throughout the tournament.
In their 2012 title winning campaign, however, the captain said payments ranged from almost $60,000 to more than $135,000.
But WICB chief executive Michael Muirhead has refuted claims that the contracts offered represent a fee reduction of as much as 80 percent from that obtained prior to the latest agreement.
"Players were given an opportunity to discuss the new structure and no concerns were raised at that time," he noted in responding to Sammy and referring to a negotiating process in May of 2015 that also involved representatives from the International Cricket Council and the global players’ representative organisation FICA.
"It is disappointing that you would choose to question the terms now, on the eve of the WT20 in India."
Meanwhile, Richards, who is in the UAE as a mentor for the Quetta team in the Pakistan Super League, told AFP that he hopes the problem does not get out of hand.
"What I can see so far, and if it's true, the West Indies players are getting pay cuts. I believe that at some point they may have to do some negotiations," saidRichards.
"Governance has been a problem in the past. I guess if you have good governance then you wouldn't have problems.
"I, as a player, would sympathise with players because I know what boards can be like, what administrations can be like."
Richards added that he was happy to help the West Indies team.
"I would like to be involved. I can bring the knowledge I have."