Groundhog Day for WI cricket

Wed, Jul 8, '09

 

WICB Under Scrutiny

commentary by LAWRENCE ROMEO

In the comedy Groundhog Day, Bill Murray in the role of the egocentric weatherman, Phil Connors, is forced to repeat the same day over and over again until he decides to reexamine his life and priorities.

It seems that the West Indian fans are experiencing their own dark version of Groundhog Day at the hands of WIPA and the WICB. Once again, at the eleventh hour, on the cusp of the start of the series against Bangladesh, the players led by their activist President Dinanath Ramnarine have withdrawn their services, and once again, fans are left scratching their heads and considering other means of getting their cricket fix.

 

The West Indies board are notorious bad actors in this ongoing saga. In the near past, some of their foibles include, and are not restricted to, the abandonment of the test at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium in Antigua, to the unplanned tour to England earlier this summer. On the surface, it appears as if the WICB has been the consistent villain of the piece. A list of the WIPA's complaints against the WICB are as follows:

  1. Settlement of the Retainer Contract for which fees have already been agreed upon by the parties and comments on the contracts itself that have been with the WICB for two months now without any response.
  2. Settlement of payments on the concluded tour of West Indies tour to England (2009)
  3. Settlement of fees on the just concluded ICC 20/20 World Cup (2009)
  4. India to West Indies series (2009)
  5. Bangladesh to West Indies (2009)
  6. Retainer Contracts/Player Contracts (2008/9)
  7. Injury Payments for players with or without written contracts
  8. Unauthorized use of Players IP and Image rights
  9. Clothing Contract 
    a) Arbitration matter pending since 2007 which include breaches of the CBA and MOU.

So far there are no counter charges or counter claims from the WICB camp, so on the face of it, it's the good WIPA versus the completely evil WICB.

However, where does that leave the fans of WI cricket? When the WI team loses in any form of cricket, we feel the pain regardless of where we are domiciled in the world. Many of us were weaned on WI cricket and could recite the names and statistics of their favorite players going back to Sir Frank Worrell. Some of us can go back even further than that. As a Caribbean institution, the West Indies Cricket team helps to define our commonality even as some of the governments of the day try to heighten our differences. To lose the institution of West Indies cricket, threadbare as it appears right now, would be an unpardonable sin to us fans.

I must then ask the following questions; are the leaders of WIPA and WICB aware of the importance of this institution whose foundation was laid in 1928, and continues on to this day? Are there any other wholly West Indian or Caribbean institutions that has survived as long or has managed to unify so many? Where is the leadership in the West Indies that this unending war between the institutions tasked with the stewardship of our game? Where are our CARICOM leaders who should have long since called WIPA and the WICB to task and negotiated a workable solution?

A role of managing any institution is possessing the ability to negotiate. One of the key elements in negotiation is Relationship building: Getting to know the other party, understanding how  you and the other are similar and different, and building commitment toward a mutually beneficial set of outcomes (GreenHalg, 2001).

Do the leaders of their organizations, Messrs.  Hunte and Ramnarine - even though they were once President and Director respectively of the WICB - know each other? Do they care about reaching a beneficial outcome? Have they considered moving beyond the initiation stage of the negotiation and onto the problem solving stage, and hopefully on to some resolution? If as leaders they cannot figure out the way forward beyond the never ending cycle of strike and temporary appeasement, then they are failing as leaders and must either agree to be led, or step aside. Who is the CARICOM leader responsible for cricket, and when is that person going to step up? Can CARICOM, in the face of the failure of all other efforts banish the WICB as an entity from doing business in the Caribbean and start afresh with a new managing organization?

Like Phil Connors in Groundhog Day, life and priorities must be examined.

In the meantime I will be watching The Ashes!