WICB keen to repair damage


Published: Wednesday 22nd October 2014 by The News Editor

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The West Indies Cricket Board hopes to “repair the damage” caused by its calamitous aborted tour of India, having called on the BCCI to consider the “serious implications” of its own hard line stance.

The WICB, whose internal pay dispute with its players lies at the heart of the crisis, convened an emergency meeting in Barbados after the Board of Control for Cricket in India announced it would be pursuing legal action over the unfulfilled fixtures as well as suspending all future bilateral agreements between the boards.

Either measure could realistically be enough to bury the West Indies as a going concern on the international stage unless mitigated or mediated successfully.

The WICB is a fragile financial entity and would be in no position to offer the BCCI reparations equivalent to the commercial losses sustained by the loss of one ODI, one Twenty20 and three Tests, said to run as high as £37million.

Equally damaging would be the end of a working touring relationship with India, whose visits are by far the most lucrative in terms of broadcasting and sponsorship.

After a full day of discussions behind closed doors the WICB made four pledges: setting up a task force to conduct a review into the circumstances that saw the players down tools mid-tour, requesting a meeting with the BCCI, scheduling a debrief with the team management unit and finally reassuring Cricket South Africa about its planned tour in December.

But the perilous situation the WICB finds itself in was apparent in its carefully worded remarks aimed at the BCCI.

The tone was resolutely conciliatory and nodded knowingly towards the power the Indian board effectively has over the future of West Indian cricket.

It read: “The West Indies Cricket Board regrets, and is deeply embarrassed by the premature and unfortunate end to the recent tour of India.

“The WICB once again expresses to the BCCI and all stakeholders – especially the cricket loving public of the West Indies and India – sorrow for the events leading up to this development.

“In light of the longstanding good relationship between WICB and BCCI, which goes back decades and has produced numerous mutual benefits, the WICB looks forward to meeting with the BCCI to discuss these decisions which can have serious implications for West Indies cricket.

“WICB believes that a way can be found to repair the damage that has been caused and to ensure that similar events do not recur, with the focus being on the betterment of West Indies and world cricket.

“The WICB thanks all stakeholders, particularly the ICC, BCCI, their broadcasters and sponsors for their patience and understanding in this matter and looks forward to the continuation of a strong relationship between our Boards.”

With the International Cricket Council effectively disenfranchised from the future tours programme following controversial governance changes earlier this year, the WICB is relying on India to relent.

To do so would require a shift in tone from the initial response of the game’s most powerful national body, which released a short but ominous statement on its intentions.

A release signed by board secretary Sanjay Patel effectively plunged the islanders’ immediate future into doubt in the space of two terse bullet points.

They read: “1. BCCI will initiate legal proceedings against West Indies Cricket Board due to the abrupt cancellation of this tour.

“2. All Bilateral tours between BCCI and WICB stand suspended.”

While either or both of those announcements will leave WICB chief executive Dave Cameron in a cold sweat, the individual fates of the players who withdrew from India are less bleak.

Some were putting their own lucrative Indian Premier League contracts – or futures – at risk, but it is understood that no ban will be imposed on individuals taking part in that competition.

In the immediate term, India will attempt to fill the gap with a hastily arranged five-match ODI series against Sri Lanka – to be held next month in Cuttack, Hyderabad, Ranchi, Kolkata and Ahmedabad.

And while West Indian relations with the game’s most powerful body have now sunk to a new low, Sri Lanka Cricket is now in a position to take advantage of its new status as a saviour.

An additional note on Tuesday’s BCCI release read: “The Members appreciated the gesture of Sri Lankan Cricket Board for having accepted our request to play five ODIs starting from 2nd of November 2014, at such a short notice. This tour is in lieu of their scheduled tour to India next year which will be reciprocated by India touring Sri Lanka in months of July/August 2015.”

Published: Wednesday 22nd October 2014 by The News Editor

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