Clive Lloyd calls for global TV deal to ensure harmony (15 November 1998)

15 November 1998

Clive Lloyd calls for global TV deal to ensure harmony

By James Mossop

OUT of the travelling West Indian cricket fiasco, a nugget of clear-thinking from Clive Lloyd that could change the international scene forever. He wants the International Cricket Council to run and dominate the game in the way FIFA rule football.

Everyone would benefit, says the West Indies tour manager, with the ICC selling the game to the highest television bidder while guaranteeing an equal pay structure for all the Test-playing nations.

In such a situation, he argued, the haggling between the West Indian players and their cricket board at two Heathrow hotels last weekend would have been avoided, although Clive Hitchcock, speaking for the ICC, said: "There is no way we can intervene in matters like this. It is the sovereign right of the nations involved to sort it out themselves."

With the ICC and the Test-playing countries working in harmony, they would feel comfortable in dealing with a television magnate such as Rupert Murdoch or Kerry Packer, and asking prices would be nowhere near as high as in football.

As the West Indian bowlers went into action for the first time on tour, in blazing sunshine and a shade temperature of 36C, Lloyd sat in the stand at the edge of the old, diamond mining town, and told of his plan. "I hope it happens one of these days," he said of his desire for equal opportunity. "We should look at baseball in America where they have so many hours on television. It goes to the highest bidder and the money is distributed equally. There should be a minimum wage. Kerry Packer showed what could be done.

"We should have learned from that. Cricketers are not asking football salaries but I remember the late tennis player Arthur Ashe coming to an Australia-England Test match in Melbourne and seeing the 90,000 crowd. He was speculating that the players must be making plenty. When he was told what they were on, he nearly dropped.

"That sort of situation still exists. People look at the crowds and the hours you put in but it is now getting so demanding that you have two squads - one for the Tests and the others for the one-day matches - so that some players can get rest.

"Everybody should be paid the same salary globally. The countries have got to start thinking about not only themselves. They should be together like family. And the ICC should be like FIFA. That equal distribution and minimum wage would come from having a global TV deal."

Lloyd, former West Indian captain and exhilarating left-handed batsman, has niggled at the ICC before as he constantly seeks to work for the betterment of the game. He recently suggested the setting up of a 'disaster fund'. One per cent of every sponsor's investment would go into the fund, along with the entire proceeds of a special, one-day match on every tour. The beneficiaries would be areas of the world hit by natural disasters with possible help for old cricketers facing destitution. Bangladesh, where the Wills Trophy tournament was held recently, has been ravaged by flood and famine this year.

With the first South Africa/West Indies Test due to start on Nov 26, the tourists have been keen to get into action after all the politicking between the players and the West Indies Cricket Board.

Lloyd admitted that the events of last weekend when Brian Lara and Carl Hooper were reinstated as captain and vice-captain and the tour went ahead with players flying in all directions from the Caribbean, Johannesburg, Bangladesh and London had been a "wake-up call" to the problems and discrepancies in the world game. "The board have realised something, but although you have a legitimate claim you can only pay out what you have," he said.

Crowds are sparse, facilities are poor, practice facilities are often sub-standard and inter-island rivalries prevail. The players feel they are poorly treated by the WICB. This touring party has been partly sponsored by the South African arm of an international drinks company and the players, after their shambolic few days, are smiling again. "I may have made a few mistakes," said Lara, "but at least the board are listening to us now."

Meanwhile, fast bowler Curtly Ambrose, who, along with Courtney Walsh, missed the Monday night flight from London, has only one four-day match to get back into shape for the Test. He could not play yesterday after damaging his toe with new boots. A toenail has been removed.

West Indies looked tired and sloppy in the field against Griqualand West, who made 271 all out with pace bowler Mervyn Dillon taking four for 70. Walsh limped off with an ankle injury in the last session. The West Indies openers, Philo Wallace and Clayton Lambert, were on five without loss when bad light stopped play with four overs left.

Source :: Electronic Telegraph (http://www.telegraph.co.uk)

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