WICB makes plea over talent drain

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The West Indies’ shallow talent pool is being drained by the loss of players to lucrative overseas T20 leagues, the WICB has said in its second media statement on the release-fee concept. The board has asked other ICC Full Members to understand its predicament and the implications for cricket in the region.

Kieron Pollard of the West Indies  is bowled by Jaspreet Bumrah of India during the 1st international T20 Trophy match between India and the West Indies held at the Central Broward Stadium in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, United States of America on the 27th August 2016 Photo by:  Ron Gaunt/ BCCI/ SPORTZPICS
Kieron Pollard of the West Indies is bowled by Jaspreet Bumrah of India during the 1st international T20 Trophy match between India and the West Indies held at the Central Broward Stadium in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, United States of America on the 27th August 2016
Photo by: Ron Gaunt/ BCCI/ SPORTZPICS

The WICB decided to levy a release fee of 20% of a player’s contract fee before issuing a No-Objection Certificate (NOC) for the player’s participation in any overseas T20 league. The release fee would need to be paid by the host board of the relevant league.

“WICB is seeking to encourage other ICC Full Members to recognise the impact that players leaving the West Indies to play in domestic T20 leagues has on West Indies cricket, and to work with WICB in finding a solution to the challenge of securing the best cricketing talent with the limited resources available,” the WICB media release said.

The WICB added that it had made “numerous appeals” to various member boards and would pursue the matter till it was resolved. “We will continue to have these discussions with the Full Member boards to resolve [the matter] as soon as possible. We would like them to follow the precedent already set.”

Many Full Member boards expressed surprise at the WICB’s decision and some, like CSA and CA, made their objections public.

The issue surfaced after Kieron Pollard was stranded in Trinidad, unable to secure the NOC to participate in the South African domestic T20 tournament. Having initially refused clearance, saying it wanted a 20% levy on Pollard’s contracted fee, the WICB granted the NOC on Tuesday.

The WICB has said its decision should not be seen as directed against the players. Instead, it said, the global cricket industry was a changed environment and both domestic and international cricket in the Caribbean was directly competing with T20 tournaments overseas.

“We are aware that, over the last three years, the number of domestic Twenty20 leagues has increased and there are now eight, including our own Caribbean Premier League,” the WICB said. “This means that there are now year-round lucrative opportunities around the world for West Indian cricketers, competing with West Indies regional competitions and sometimes even with West Indies international cricket. At present, there are 18 players in seven leagues.”

The WICB said it did not have the financial strength to pay large sums to its players in order to keep them from playing overseas. In its initial letter to Pollard, sent on November 3, the WICB had said that the funds generated from the release fees would be utilised for creating contracts for West Indies players featuring only in T20s.

However, Wednesday’s release stated the money would be utilised for the development of regional cricket. “The release fees form part of an overall contribution to the continued development of: the six franchises and clubs represented, High Performance programme, training and development of technical officials, women’s cricket, A-team tours, a comprehensive under-19 programme, and are split between WICB, the Territorial Board and the club within the territory with which the player is registered.” (ESPNCricinfo)  

Nagraj Gollapudi is a senior assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

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