Thursday, April 25, 2024

Rumblings still in Windies camp

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Even as the official forecast that the storm clouds hanging over West Indies cricket are beginning to lift, the rumblings in the background persist.

A joint statement from the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB), the West Indies Players Association (WIPA) and representatives of the West Indies team optimistically described their emergency meeting at the Pegasus Hotel in Kingston on Sunday to discuss the devastating abandonment of the tour of India 12 days ago as “cordial, positive and fruitful”.

It promised further discussions “in an effort to find a way forward”.

Don Wehby, head of the Jamaican conglomerate Grace Kennedy, is one of the WICB’s independent directors. He and president Dave Cameron were the board’s representatives at the Pegasus.

He told the Jamaica Observer that he was “very pleased with the meeting”.

“I think progress has been made,” he said. “The important issues were discussed and are being dealt with in what I would describe as a professional way”.

At the same time, there were reliable, if unconfirmed, reports that the WICB had scrapped plans for the task force “comprising critical stakeholders” that was one of four decisions at the directors’ emergency meeting in Barbados a week ago. Its task was to review the situation and report back.

The lengthy absence over naming its members gave credence to the assumption.

The continuing turbulence has involved Marlon Samuels, the one open dissenter among those in India. He extended his earlier long range war of words with ODI captain Dwayne Bravo, the prominent spokesman for the striking players, to include the WIPA and its president, Wavell Hinds in a lengthy interview carried, on audio, yesterday on the ESPNcricinfo website.

He fingered WIPA president Wavell Hinds as ‘the main problem here”. Charging that he “basically messed up everything”, he said the WICB could not be blamed for accepting what he had done.

There was also a predictable altercation at the annual general meeting of the Trinidad and Tobago Cricket Board (TTCB) in Couva last Saturday between the TCCB and Dinanath Ramnarine, for ten years hard-line head of WIPA before handing over to Hinds two years ago.

While the TTCB became the first regional board to castigate the players and “pledge its full support” for the WICB’s position, the one sharply dissenting voice from the floor was Ramnarine’s.

Since TTCB’s directors on WICB, its president Azim Bassarath and Baldath Mahabir, were in Barbados at the meeting that agreed to the task force, Ramnarine said he “could not support condemnation of any one side”.

“At this juncture, this seems like a cheap PR and political gimmick since the task force is the body charged to find the real truth,” he said.

Whether or not the Task Force materialises is unlikely to alter his opinion.

In an ironic coincidence, it was announced on Monday by tournament director, former Test captain Graeme Smith, that Dwayne Bravo, Chris Gayle, Keiron Pollard, Andre Russell and Darren Sammy had signed on to play in South Africa’s Ram Jam T20 Challenge November 2 to December 12.

Since the still uncertain West Indies tour of South Africa for three Tests, five ODIs and two T20s is scheduled December 17 to January 28, they would be available – if exonerated by the WICB and selected should the tour come off.

In his ESPNcricinfo interview, Samuels explained that he was not a WIPA member as the organisation had left him “in the cold, on my own” during his 2008-10 International Cricket Council (ICC) ban for association with an Indian bookmaker.

He once more fervently denied Bravo’s assertion that he had contributed “vigorously” to the team meetings in India and claimed the public was being misled on the matter.

His response to a question on his reaction to Bravo’s critical letter was characteristically cryptic: “Nothing in this lifetime surprises me when it comes down to mankind. Expect the unexpected.”

Given the much quoted biblical maxim that a house divided against itself cannot stand, the unexpected still seems likely to be an expected complete overhaul of West cricket – or else its demise.

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