West Indies board seeks to resolve umpires issue
West Indies board officials will meet with officials from the West Indies Cricket Umpires Association (WICUA) president today in an effort to settle the issues that led to the WICUA's boycott of Carib Beer Cup matches last month.
"We've sought this meeting for some time but had to put it off once at our request," Hartley Reid, the WICUA president said. "It's a welcome opportunity to have this specific matter resolved and to discuss the general relationship between the WICB and the WICUA". Reid will meet Donald Peters, the WICB chief executive, and Tony Howard, its chief cricket operations officer.
The WICB was caught in the middle of a stand-off triggered by differences between two umpiring bodies in Trinidad and Tobago, only one of which is recognised by the Trinidad and Tobago board.
WICUA decided on the boycott when two of its members, Hayden Bruce and Kaso Dowlath, were replaced after being originally assigned matches during the regional season by the WICB. Bruce and Dowlath belong to the Association of Cricket Umpires of Trinidad and Tobago (ACUTT). But the T&T board recognises the Trinidad and Tobago Cricket Umpires and Scorers Council (TTCUSC) which did not put forward Bruce and Dowlath on its recommended list. "This was noticed by the T&T board, which informed the WICB, pointing out the perceived error, and the WICB then removed those two names," Lalman Kowlessar, a T&T board executive said. Umpires from the TTCUSC filled in for those who adhered to the WICUA call and the matches all went ahead.
Kowlessar described the boycott as a "total failure" but WICUA secretary Vivian Johnson of Jamaica pointed out that it was not a situation that could be allowed to continue "in perpetuity". In a television interview in Guyana last week, Peters said he hoped "to come to some amicable agreement" at today's meeting.
"The larger issue is all these factions in the umpires' fraternity," he said. "What I would like to see is one group and the WICB would contract an elite panel and three levels of umpires. That's the way I'd like to go.
"We're not involved in the struggle but we have a responsibility to ensure that umpires work closely together so that, in the final analysis, we can get the best umpires to stand in our matches," he added.
The impasse led to an e-mailed threat from WICB corporate secretary Tony Deyal to WICUA area vice-president Billy Doctrove, one of two West Indians on the ICC Elite Panel of umpires, informing him that if he did not umpire the match between the Leeward Islands and Guyana as directed that the WICB would "refer the matter to the ICC".
Deyal warned that it would point out that "your actions have sought to bring the WICB and the game of cricket in the Caribbean into disrepute and that you, and any other persons from the region who have behaved in a similar fashion, should not be considered for further employment by the ICC now or at any future time".
ICC Communications Officer James Fitzgerald said that although the ICC was aware of the issue "it is really a domestic matter and so we have no direct part to play.
"However, if there is a way that we can assist all sides coming to a satisfactory agreement on this, then we will be happy to help," he added.
The ICC has subsequently assigned Doctrove to the last two Tests of the current series between India and South Africa in India.