Blame greedy boards, says WIPA chief
National cricketing bodies, not players, will be to blame if cricketers follow Chris Gayle's intended path and choose Twenty20 cricket over Tests, according to West Indies Players Association boss Dinanath Ramnarine. Gayle's admission yesterday that his days in Test cricket were numbered did not surprise Ramnarine, who believes the relentless scheduling by money-hungry boards will force an increasing number of players to choose one form of the game.
"I think something like [Gayle's situation] is going to basically find itself happening to all other players," Ramnarine told Cricinfo. "The shorter form of the game is far more lucrative than the longer version of the game. At the end of the day, as an international player, you have a certain timeframe in which you play cricket. People have their families that they would like to spend time with, but you're playing cricket 12 months of the year. A decision like this is no different to making a decision in a firm, as to where you work.
"A few years ago cricket was seasonal ... it's full-time now. Players' careers are shorter. What's going to happen is players are going to choose. I don't think this is just a message for Chris alone. The ICC and the governing bodies must recognise that there needs to be a structure and they can't be the ones who are just concerned with making as much money as possible. It is easy for the cricketers to get chastised by the media and everybody else ... but one thing you don't hear is what the governing bodies have earned. The West Indies Cricket Board did not draw up this series because it's something that we want to go on. It's a commercial deal."
Ramnarine confirmed West Indies players were "disappointed" with the decision of their board to schedule the current tour of England outside the Future Tours Programme and in direct conflict with the IPL. The series was arranged only after Sri Lanka announced its withdrawal to allow its cricketers to participate in the lucrative Twenty20 league, and greatly reduced the earning potential of players such as Gayle, who themselves hold sizeable IPL contracts.
"It is very unfortunate because it was important for players to plan ahead, and part of our MOU requires us and the board to agree this annual schedule of cricket, and the England tour was not part of the annual schedule of cricket," Ramnarine said. "Players have found themselves in a very difficult position. Once the board and players make unilateral decisions, then we're going to find ourselves in trouble. I'm afraid this is the situation we are facing here today.
"At the end of the day, we want to be able to protect the game of international cricket. What we do have an issue with is these make-up series. This is done purely on a commercial basis between the boards. So the players had made arrangements to participate in different competitions. It comes back to the point of a lack of dialogue and not honouring the agreement I mentioned that the WICB and WIPA have signed on as to how we would treat each other."
Ramnarine refused to be drawn on Gayle's comments until he had spoken personally with the West Indian captain. The union chief did, however, comment on the curious case of Dwayne Bravo, who was stood down from the Test series on medical grounds, but cleared to play for the Mumbai Indians in the IPL.
"To the best of my knowledge ... the board accepted the advice of the medical panel not to rush [Bravo] back into Test cricket," he said. "That is the best information I have."
Alex Brown is deputy editor of Cricinfo