T&T players roll back on CLT20 pull-out
A major embarrassment for the Trinidad & Tobago Cricket Board (TTCB) and the WICB was avoided after the Trinidad & Tobago players departed for South Africa to compete in the Champions League Twenty20 after initially threatening to pull out of the tournament over a monetary dispute with the TTCB.
"The players from T&T have decided to travel to South Africa," Suruj Ragoonath, the TTCB chief executive, told ESPNcricinfo. "In the meantime, the TTCB and WIPA, who have good relations, continue discussions on the matter."
The dispute began on October 3 when five T&T players - Denesh Ramdin, Darren Bravo, Ravi Rampaul, Lendl Simmons and Samuel Badree - currently in Sri Lanka representing West Indies in the World Twenty20, told the TTCB that they would participate in the CLT20 only if the board shared with them the $450,000 it received for allowing Kieron Pollard, Dwayne Bravo and Sunil Narine to represent their IPL teams instead of their country.
The players' emissary was Dinanath Ramnarine, the former WIPA president. Ramnarine, who has had numerous run-ins with the WICB on various issues, had recently helped Simmons and Ramnaresh Sarwan claim damages from the WICB for breach of their player contracts.
It is understood the situation worsened on Thursday morning, when the ten other members of the T&T squad also refused to travel to South Africa on their 5pm flight from Port-of-Spain unless the demands were met. The problem had arisen six days before T&T's first game in the qualifying stage of the Champions League and it caught the TTCB off guard.
Reacting to the development, the TTCB initially explained to the players that a guaranteed sum of more than $20,000 was assured to each individual for two qualification matches. Ramnarine pointed out that in case the team advanced to the main round, the TTCB had guaranteed an additional $200,000 before taxes. It was also reported that 75% of the monies and any other prize money would be shared among the squad.
That, however, did not change the players' minds and so the TTCB reportedly asked the selectors to appoint five replacements. Former West Indies players Mervyn Dillon, Daren Ganga, and Dave Mohammed were sounded out, along with the pair of Justin Guillen and Stephen Katwaroo.
The TTCB also contacted WICB officials and informed them about the development. "The WICB was told that the players had put down a condition to travel which the TTCB did not believe was fair," a CLT20 official told ESPNcricinfo. "TTCB said that the money paid by the IPL franchises had nothing to do with the T&T squad and they were not willing to share. They have reached deadlock."
The WICB officials went scrambling to try and organize a Jamaica squad, who were runners-up in the Caribbean T20 last season, as a replacement team. "The WICB felt they had to send a team to represent the Caribbean and the board was is in talks with the Jamaica Cricket Association to send a team," the official said.
However, after last-minute negotiations, the T&T players decided to board the flight to Johannesburg.
Nagraj Gollapudi is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo