West Indies contracts row September 2, 2009

WICB-WIPA peace talks fail

Cricinfo staff

Mediation efforts between the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) and the West Indian Players Association (WIPA) over the dispute regarding payments and contracts have collapsed. Shridath Ramphal, the former commonwealth secretary general, who had been appointed to broker a deal in the stand-off, said a feared labour shutdown might also result from the breakdown in talks.

"It was another bad day for West Indian cricket which, without fundamental changes, is now likely to deteriorate further," Ramphal said in a statement. Ramphal said the sides had been close to a deal a day earlier but talks were derailed after one side tabled a new draft agreement, not making public any more details of the sticking points.

He also invoked assistance "of various kinds to make implementation of the agreement feasible. However, all that changed dramatically when one party introduced an entirely new document and refused to negotiate on any other."

The dispute erupted in July when 13 of the leading West Indies players made themselves unavailable for the first Test against Bangladesh in St Vincent, citing pay and contract issues. The WICB was forced to field a weakened squad which resulted in Bangladesh sweeping both the Test and one-day series.

Ramphal was appointed mediator on July 21 after current Caribbean Community and Common Market (CARICOM) chairman and Guyana president Bharrat Jagdeo met with top representatives from both sides. Jagdeo, in his statement, said he was "disappointed to learn of the failure" of WICB and WIPA to reach and agreement but added that he was "not wholly surprised."

"CARICOM governments will have to consider what next to do to save West Indies cricket, and West Indians everywhere, from still further humiliation," Jagdeo wrote. He blamed the WICB for failing to disclose to him and the WIPA that the board had already selected a 'second-string' team for the upcoming Champions Trophy in South Africa and hinted it was the WICB board that demanded a new document be considered.

"The president (of the board) later apologised for the omission but the damage had been done. Mediation was weakened from the start," Jagdeo said. "Now, it seems that the mediation has been the victim of the same spirit of board insistence on getting its own way whatever the consequences for our cricket."