WICB denies pulling out of India tour

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Captain Dwayne Bravo just before the start of the fourth one day against India
Captain Dwayne Bravo just before the start of the fourth one day against India

[www.inewsguyana.com] – The West Indies tour to India has been thrown into uncertainty with the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) saying it had been called off by the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) and announcing a replacement tour, while the West Indies Board said in a later statement that it had not taken any such decision.

The developments followed a protracted payment structure dispute between the players, the WICB and West Indies Players’ Association. The WICB said it would make a further statement following the conclusion of the fourth ODI in Dharamsala, currently underway.

The BCCI said it was “shocked and disappointed” that the decision to abandon the tour had been “taken by the WICB”, and that India would now play five ODIs against Sri Lanka between November 1 and 15, after Sri Lanka Cricket accepted the invitation to fill the void.

“They have withdrawn their team and this [development] has come abruptly. We received an email from Richie Richardson, the West Indies team manager, only this [Friday] morning,” BCCI secretary Sanjay Patel told ESPN cricnfo. Patel also said the BCCI was contemplating legal action against the WICB.

Shortly after the development, however, the WICB put out a statement saying it had not taken a decision to end the tour.

“The West Indies Cricket Board advises, that, contrary to media reports, it has taken no decision to discontinue the ongoing tour to India,” it said.

“The WICB will make a further statement following the conclusion of the fourth one-day International which is in progress.”

The BCCI’s release had said, “The WICB’s inability to resolve internal issues with its players and allowing the same to affect an ongoing bilateral series does not reflect well on any of those involved.”

The withdrawal had “given little thought to the future of the game, the players and the long standing relations between the BCCI and WICB.”

“This is a unilateral decision taken by the WICB and its players, in spite of several appeals to the WICB to honour its commitment and complete the series.”

The BCCI would “pursue all options available” and seek “appropriate action” from the ICC, referring to the abrupt end to the tour as an act of indiscretion.

BCCI joint secretary Anurag Thakur told PTI the West Indies players were “hell bent not to play” the fourth ODI, and only agreed to take the field upon his insistence.

Before the game, Dwayne Bravo, the West Indies ODI captain, had indicated something serious was brewing when he told Ian Bishop, the television commentator, at the toss: “Time to make a decision.”

Bravo was accompanied by his West Indies team-mates, who stood beside him. They were scheduled to play a fifth ODI, one Twenty20 and three Tests after the Dharamsala one-dayer.

Tony Irish, the Executive Chairman of International Players’ Association FICA, is reported to be working with WICB and WIPA to try and resolve the issue.

“FICA is dismayed that the tour has been called off. It’s not good for cricket and it’s not good for player relations within cricket,” he said.

The reason for the dispute between the West Indies players and WIPA had been the memorandum of understanding and the combined bargaining agreement signed between WIPA and WICB in September.

Bravo, acting as the player representative, had claimed that WIPA president and CEO Wavell Hinds had kept the players in the dark over the MoU, which he allegedly signed without their consent.

On the eve of the first ODI in Kochi, Bravo had warned that if Hinds did not cooperate and respond to the questions raised by the players, a strike or a pullout from the tour could not be ruled out.

Though Hinds responded eventually, Bravo continued to insist that Hinds should step down as CEO and president, and even asked the WICB to not communicate with WIPA till a solution was found. However, WICB president Dave Cameron sent an email to Bravo saying the board would only engage with WIPA, adhering to the MoU signed in September.

Former West Indies seamer Michael Holding called the development “ridiculous” and “embarrassing”.

“I have never seen anything like this in the past,” Holding told Sky TV. “I can see serious repercussions from this. I think this is a ridiculous decision by the West Indies Cricket Board. They like to hide behind half-truths.

“It’s embarrassing for me, as someone who played for West Indies, to see this happening. I was told a director of the WICB did not know about this decision. Let us hope the majority of the board made this decision, otherwise it has been made by very dubious means.” (Cricinfo.com)

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