WICB-WIPA dispute may be resolved in August
The deadline for brokering a deal in the bitter dispute between the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) and the West Indies Players' Association (WIPA) has been set for August. Shridath Ramphal, who has been given the responsibility of mediating negotiations, said it was critically important that an urgent solution was found, so that cricket in the region could return to a state of normalcy.
Following his first meeting with both parties on Sunday, Ramphal said he believed the deadline would be possible to meet as both sides were keen on moving swiftly towards a resolution. "The parties, who were with me together over those many hours, and I share that view that we've got to get on with this quickly," Ramphal told CMC Sports.
"My own timeline - although the meeting hasn't put a time on it - my own personal hope is that we can see this process through within August. By the end of August, this should be a process done and put behind us with a line drawn in the sand and with the future for West Indies cricket and the whole region, and indeed international sport [settled]."
Ramphal, a former commonwealth secretary-general, was appointed to mediate, following a meeting between the WIPA, the WICB and Guyana president Bharrat Jagdeo, who is also chairman of the 15-nation trading bloc Caribbean Community and Common Market (CARICOM), in Georgetown last Tuesday.
The meeting ended the stand-off between WIPA and the board, because of which the first-choice West Indies players refused to play in the ongoing home series against Bangladesh, citing pay and contract issues as their main grievances.
Ramphal also said the issue of West Indies cricket was too important for the mediation process to be treated lightly. "In Guyana, under the agreement that Jagdeo brokered as chairman of CARICOM, they called on the parties to proceed to mediation - in the language of the agreement - with expedition and I can understand why they did that," Ramphal said.
"West Indies cricket cannot afford a long stalemate, which is the situation we are in now. These issues that so trouble the game in the West Indies, trouble the game in the world and I'm sure that England and Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, India - they are all looking. At this intimate process and hoping that the West Indies will get its act together and resume its prominent place in world cricket."
The impasse forced the selectors to hastily assemble a makeshift squad for the Bangladesh series and select a largely inexperienced 30-man provisional squad for the Champions Trophy in September. Though the first choice players have subsequently made themselves available, the WICB has opted not to revise the provisional squad.