West Indies contracts row July 17, 2009

Players violated code of conduct - WICB

Cricinfo staff

The West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) has said the players who refused to join the Test squad last week, and the official ticket launch for the 2010 World Twenty20 on July 4, violated the board's code of conduct and, in some cases, retainer contracts. In its first formal communication with the players on this issue, it has written individually to each of them citing breaches of contract and seeking a reply within ten days.

The action precipitated an immediate response, with the West Indies Players Association (WIPA) disputing the charge, saying the players could not breach contractual obligations because they had not entered into an agreement with the WICB. It said the board lacked the standing to issue such letters.

The board claimed a breach of Rule 6 of the WICB Code of Conduct, which states: 'Players and team officials must not at any time engage in behaviour unbecoming that could bring the game of cricket into disrepute or be harmful to the interests of cricket'.

The WICB release also said those players on retainer contracts have been informed that "their action breached that contract and therefore those payments have been suspended immediately until such time as you [the players] indicate in writing to the WICB your resumption of obligations under the contract".

WICB media officer Phillip Spooner said the board had also told WIPA that the strike action breaches the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) and the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) between the two, and requested that the dispute be referred to immediate mediation.

WIPA, on the other hand, clarified the position of its players in its own press release. "They informed the WICB that they were unavailable for the first Test against Bangladesh," the WIPA statement read. "These players were under no contract with the WICB that imposed any terms, conditions and obligations with regard to the first Test against Bangladesh and have taken no strike action within this context."

On the "boycott" of the ticket launch, WIPA said though the players participated in the ODIs against India, "there was no contract setting out what the terms, conditions and obligations were with regard to this series and it was their understanding it was an optional event."

"In the normal circumstances the players may well have attended in any event without a contract but after a three-hour meeting at which it came to their attention that a large number of long outstanding issues had still not been resolved they exercised the option not to attend," the WIPA statement read.

According to the association, a letter was subsequently sent to the president of the WICB to the effect. WIPA acknowledged receipt of a letter from the WICB and a notice of dispute which it would respond to, denying any such assertion of strike action or breaches of the MoU and the CBA , and said it would proceed to respond as mandated under the CBA.

The latest move in the ongoing player contracts crisis comes on the heels of WIPA's tongue-in-cheek 'apology' on Tuesday, listing the debacles of the WICB administration and management over the last few years and also slamming the board for not honouring previously-arbitrated agreements between the two entities. On Wednesday, WIPA wrote to the Caribbean Community and Common Market (CARICOM), seeking their intervention on the contractual impasse.

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