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Make them pay

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

It tells a story of its own that not one player, not one administrator from the WICB or WIPA official has approached anything like being publicly contrite for the complete embarrassment they have heaped on West Indian peoples by pulling out of the tour of India, or the US$42 million debt (and counting) they have imposed on West Indian taxpayers, including the daily-paid worker earning $50-a-day.

Instead of acknowledging the grievous wrong perpetrated against West Indian peoples and their great tradition in cricket, the actors in the unbelievable act of selfishness and disregard for the consequences of their actions have been arrogant, engaged in an empty blaming game of each other. Indeed, the board officials now seem poised to dishonour promises made in front two Caricom prime ministers not to discriminate against players from the Indian disaster. In the meantime, there are those players who have gone off to their lucrative contracts in Australia, South Africa and soon enough back to India for the IPL; they will perform no such act of stupidity, knowing that the business interests of the IPL will send them instantly packing.

However, the players should not feel beyond reach, as they have been warned by the International Cricket Conference that another such irresponsible act “may also put in jeopardy their ability to conclude future contractual arrangements with domestic franchises or clubs in other jurisdictions.” But not only the WICB, players and WIPA are demonstrating this backwardness and truculence: here comes the T&T Cricket Board taking up the “fire rage” of its head institution (the WICB) to take sanctions against Denesh Ramdin while remaining quiet about the role of the WICB and WIPA in this financial and civilisational disaster committed against the West Indian nation.

Of course Ramdin deserves censure for his role in abandoning the tour of India; he compounded that with defiance of the TTCB and disrespect for his status as captain of the WI Test team and T&T by his reported (yet to be denied) saunter into a meeting of the TTCB one hour late and in slippers and T-shirt. And that is the point being repeated at every opportunity by these columns: the players do not know how to acquit themselves; the board members seem only to know arrogance and high-handedness. If he got what he deserves, Ramdin, like the other players who withdrew from the tour, should be eliminated from the West Indies team and so too their national side. But Ramdin cannot be made to depart unless he is quickly followed by WICB president Dave Cameron, his executive and Wavell Hinds and Azim Bassarath, the latter for not publicly telling the WICB where it went horribly wrong.

Open note to prime ministers Ralph Gonsalves and Keith Mitchell: you must ensure and enforce, if that becomes necessary, that the process of transformation of West Indian cricket institutions and the attitude of players is engaged before you seek to persuade your colleague prime ministers to spend one cent to liquidate the debt to the Indian Cricket Board. It should be noted here that the release from the BCCI refers to the offender as “West Indies,” not the board, or the players or WIPA; the Indian board holds them all responsible. Further, prime ministers Gonsalves and Mitchell, one requirement of any settlement of the debt to the BCCI must include a levy on the future earnings of players, salaries and honoraria of board officials and WIPA officials to assist with paying for their disrespectful and thoughtless behaviours.

These are the people and institutions who/which have incurred the debt to the Indian cricket board. How can non-participants in this egregious act be taxed while those whose incompetence, arrogance, stupidity and lack of analytical thinking are allowed to walk away without any penalty? That would send the wrong message. The tax on the players, the board and WIPA members should not be symbolic, a token against the offenders. US$42 million is not a slap on the wrist. Fifty per cent of match fees over an extended period must be exacted; it must hurt and they must pay the debt they owe to the people of the West Indies.

Transformation cannot be initiated if it is not preceded by the acceptance of responsibility and public acknowledgement for wrongdoing by all those involved and without a statement of intent to move away and forward from the culture which has landed West Indies cricket in this place of odium. As indicated in the column of last week, the construction of a subculture of excellence in which all are involved is an absolute necessity if West Indies cricket is to advance. 

If not, if the debt is paid, no one is made to take responsibility for their collective roles in the withdrawal from the tour and to pay for their actions, it is simply a matter of time before the next crisis explodes. Indeed, a mini-crisis is now approaching even before the last one has been solved, as the WICB and the TTCB seem intent on punishing players who offended as if they, the boards, were blameless. 


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