NEW DELHI – The West Indies tour of India descended into chaos yesterday as the hosts said the visitors had abandoned the one-day series owing to an internal row and the Caribbean board initially denied withdrawing its team.
A day of confusion, claim and counter-claim began with the Indian board announcing that the visitors would fly home after yesterday’s one-dayer in Dharamsala following a simmering pay contract dispute involving the West Indian cricketers, their board and the players’ union.
The Board of Cricket Control in India (BCCI) said Sri Lanka had stepped in to fill the void and will play a five-match one-day series in India next month.
Confusion reigned as the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB), which had earlier conceded a players’ boycott loomed over the tour, issued a statement denying it had withdrawn the team.
“The West Indies Cricket Board advises, that, contrary to media reports, it has taken no decision to discontinue the ongoing tour to India,” the WICB said in a statement.
The BCCI responded with another statement, giving a timeline of events and insisting the tour was over.
The Indian board said West Indies team manager Richie Richardson sent an email just before the fourth one-dayer yesterday, saying the players had decided against continuing the tour and wanted to return home after the match.
The WICB and the West Indies Players’ Association signed a new agreement last month covering pay and conditions but it was rejected by the senior players, including one-day captain Dwayne Bravo who said they were kept in the dark.
The players subsequently issued a strike threat but eventually took to the field and were playing the match when the BCCI announced an abrupt end to the tour which was also due to include a fifth one-dayer, a Twenty20 International and three Test matches.
Bravo, who turned up for the toss accompanied by his entire team in what looked like a show of unity, appeared to have conceded that the series was over.
“Despite the situation off the field, we still gave our best effort to try and put cricket first. We played our heart out through the entire tour, sadly it comes to an end now,” the all-rounder said.
The BCCI said in its first statement that it was “shocked and extremely disappointed” at the withdrawal and its secretary Sanjay Patel hinted at legal action against the WICB.
“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,” Patel said.
“The BCCI will pursue all options available to protect its rights, whilst seeking appropriate action from the ICC to ensure that its interests and those of the game at large will not suffer any damage due to such acts of indiscretion,” he added.
The world’s richest cricket board wasted little time and within hours convinced Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) to send a team for a five-match ODI series starting on November 1.
Sri Lanka have agreed to fill the void created by the West Indies.
“In principle we have agreed to accept India’s invitation to play five one-day internationals,” said SLC secretary Nishantha Ranatunga.
“Initially India wanted us to play a T20 international as well but we decided that with the World Cup only a few months away, playing five ODIs would be beneficial to both teams.” (Reuters/MK)