Darren Sammy should have been on top of the world and in ecstatic mood following his team’s sensational victory in the ICC World T20 Championship.
Instead the West Indies skipper’s caustic victory speech on Sunday struck a note of discord amid the jovial atmosphere.
The Caribbean team’s captain came across as angry, disillusioned and upset at a time when he ought to have been thrilled to bits and over the moon with the victory.
To get to the reasons behind such a bitter speech it is necessary to take a peep into the background of the relations between the West Indies players and some of the others in their area of operation and the possible gains from the win.
Wycliffe “Dave” Cameron, West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) president
Darren Sammy, captain West Indies cricket team.
Wavell Hinds, former Test cricketer, president & CEO of West Indies Players Association (WIPA)
Michael Murihead, CEO of WICB
Keith Mitchell, Grenada PM & Chairman of CARICOM Sub-Committee on Cricket
(Caricom is Caribbean Community, an organisation of 15 nations of the Caribbean working for common causes including single currency)
The bone of contention: The Remuneration agreement signed between WICB & WIPA.
Sammy says 14 of the 15 players from the West Indies squad for the ICC World T20 are not part of the WIPA. (Andre Fletcher is lone player with WIPA). Hence WIPA cannot speak for them or represent them in discussions or agreements with WICB.
Murihead says WIPA remains the “recognised collective bargaining representative of West Indies cricketers and therefore negotiates the remuneration between WICB and each West Indian player, whether such player is or is not a member of WIPA.”
The threat (before the start of the World T20)
Sammy: We will begin a strike if our demands are not met.
Murihead: No one will leave WI shores without signing the contract. Sign by February 16 or we will dump you and send a second-string team.
The WIPA & WICB share a “special relationship”, implying friendship between Hinds and Cameron, both key members of Kensington Club, one of Jamaica’s premier clubs. The WICB chief executive officer Michael Muirhead is also a Jamaican.
Players allege Hinds has conflict of interest as he is also member of the Jamaica Cricket Association, a branch of the WICB.
Hinds, a university-educated former Test cricketer, asks all charges to be “substantiated with empirical evidence.”
Sammy: In the past the WI squads were distributed 25 per cent of the income received by the WICB for participating in the World Cup. We played the 2015 World Cup under these terms. Now one year later the offered contracts to participate in the World T20 show huge financial reductions.
“I understand $8 million will be paid to the Board by ICC. Traditionally 25 per cent has been distributed to the squad. That would equate to $2m divided by 15 therefore approximately $133,000 per player.”
Muirhead: The information with Sammy in connection with the $8 million figure is totally incorrect.
“As a result of the ICC revamp which was agreed on 8 February 2014, the ICC has changed the manner in which distributions to Full Members are paid — starting from the ICC WT20 2016. These payments are now spread out and distributed over an eight-year cycle, rather than being paid out in a lump sum and attributed to any one event.
“It is not possible to calculate a percentage to be paid to the squad, as the ICC distribution is no longer being made in the traditional manner.
“The WICB therefore allocates 25 per cent of WICB revenues estimated over a four-year period — including ICC distributions — to players.
“The remuneration to the players for the WT20 comprises an agreed match fee of three times the usual fee, plus 50 per cent of the net proceeds of any sponsorship for the event, and 80 per cent of any prize money earned by the team.”
Aside: (The West Indies as winners bagged $1.6 million in prize money)
Sammy: Apart from the prize money, the squad would earn $414,000 collectively under the terms of the contract offered by WICB. That is just over 5 per cent. A staggering difference, a reduction of near 80 per cent.
The Red Rags
Sammy is not among the 15 players given a retainer contract up to September 2016 although he is WI’s T20 skipper and available for ODIs. He’s retired only from Tests.
Cameron retweeted a post during West Indies match against Pakistan last year: “Gayle goes… Can’t buy a run. Let’s give him a retirement package… Can’t fail repeatedly and still front up based on reputation.”
He removed the retweet from his Twitter account and offered the following apology: “No offense intended. Full apologies extended. Rally round the West Indies”.
He was asked to Tweet his resignation next.
Refused to give Jason Holder permission to play Pakistan Cricket League
Caricom steps in
With just weeks to go for the World T20 and when it looked like the impasse would not end, Caricom stepped in to save the situation, for the event at least.
Caricom has for some time been deeply disturbed by the steady decline of West Indies cricket. They’ve involved even foreign governments in their plans to boost cricket. These include getting the Chinese and Indian governments to build cricket stadiums in the West Indies.
Caricom’s Prime Ministers set up a committee in the wake of West Indies players’ walkout of the India tour in 2014. The committee which included cricketers, spent a year on the job and came out with its recommendations. It asked for the WICB to be dissolved and an independent board of directors to run what it called Cricket West Indies.
WICB president Cameron who has been around in the board for over 14 years rejected the report, saying Caricom had no authority over WICB.
Some Caricom PMs want stringent action against WICB while others want to gently push it to accepting the report.
Caricom claimed credit for West Indies Under-19 team winning the Under-19 World Cup in Bangladesh last year. It said that its boost to cricket in the form of improved infrastructure and coaching set-up for kids has revived West Indies cricket.
WICB called the claims ingenuous. “Caricom wants to take credit for success but when there are failures it wants to dump it on WICB.”
It is obvious that West Indies cricket is still not out of turmoil. The triple success, including World T20 triumph is a tremendous fillip to the game in the Caribbean. But will the present vicious environment allow WICB to capitalise on it?
The alleged cosy relationship between WICB and WIPA seems to be a major reason for the unease within the West Indies. Most of the players representing West Indies are not part of the WIPA. Thus an uncomfortable question is being asked: If the union that is the WIPA does not have many cricketers as members, and hence does not get union subscription fees from them, where is its funding coming from?