Tuesday, March 31, 2009

D-Day today for England - West Indies

TODAY COULD BE make or break for the final One-Day-International cricket match between England and the West Indies in St Lucia on Friday.

It could also be an indicator as to what direction the future relationship between regional players and cricket administrators will take.

The West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) and the West Indies Players Association (WIPA) will hold crisis talks today to try and end the deadlock that threatens to lead to a boycott of the encounter at the Beausejour Cricket Ground.

WIPA president Dinanath Ramnarine is expected to lead a delegation to meet WICB president Julian Hunte and his representatives in St Lucia to try and save this weekend's match.

The impasse has already seen regional first-class players go on strike, leading to the cancellation ten days ago of some 11th-round matches in the WICB's four-day competition.

WIPA has a long list of concerns with the way the WICB governs cricket in the region, including the contention that the board usually makes decisions without consulting the union as had been previously agreed between the two bodies.

While Ramnarine has declined to make any public statements, West Indies captain Chris Gayle and allrounder Dwayne Bravo have spoken of their frustrations. Last week Gayle rebuked the WICB, urging the body to get its house in order in its dealings with the players. He also hinted at a possible players' strike of Friday's game.

Gayle and Bravo are among five regional players who have signed on to the lucrative 2009 Indian Premier League (IPL), a tournament which clashes with the team's tour of England in May. This conflict is among the topics which are expected to be on today's agenda

Failed to consult

Bravo said yesterday the WICB had failed to consult WIPA when agreeing to the tour of England starting in May. Ironically, the West Indies replaced Sri Lanka on the tour because its board opted out of the series to allow its players to take part in the IPL.

"The WICB went on and signed that tour without letting WIPA know anything about the tour," Bravo said. "We signed our contract to go and represent our IPL team, now we are in a position where we have to choose whether to go and play IPL for the first six weeks or go to England. It is a tricky situation."

Bravo also rejected suggestions that the players were unaware of all the issues in their dispute with the WICB and had not been privy to relevant information from Ramnarine.

"[He] lets us know everything that is taking place so we are fully aware of everything that is going on in the meetings," Bravo said.

He added: "We are fully aware of what the WICB owes us. We know everything. We are never short of information. Whenever issues come up, the first person Ramnarine contacts is Chris [Gayle]; Chris calls a meeting, and lets the players know what is going on and we the players come up as a team, and make a decision on what we would like Ramnarine to go forward with."

Bravo also dismissed claims that the WIPA was only looking out for the benefit of the international players, and not for the all first-class players in the region.

"That doesn't have any truth in it at all!" he said. "Whenever we meet as a team, and whenever Ramnarine comes and talks with us, our main issue is about the first-class players.

"He keeps stressing on the first-class players, not too much on us, because we have it better off than the first-class players. Ramnarine is the only one who got first-class fees raised after so many years," he said.

Bravo asserted that the players were not greedy, but wondered what was wrong with them wanting a better deal.

He asked: "So why does a bank manager go to work every day? Why does a teacher go to work everyday? Why she don't just go and teach and don't study about money?"

Bravo added: "It's not only us complaining about money. You see teachers protest for salaries; you see people protest because of shortage of salary. . .

"But we have to understand and accept that the way how life is going, and the way how cricket is going now, it is more a business.

"It is still a sport, but there is a lot of business, there is a lot of money floating around. Players see opportunity where they could make other income. I don't see any problem with it."

[credit : http://www.nationnews.com/news/local/lead----D0596--BC-CRI-WestIndies-Dispu-03-30-0672-FRONT-PAGE-OT]

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