West Indies news

Sarwan wins case, $161,000 damages from WICB

Nagraj Gollapudi

September 13, 2012

Comments: 32 | Text size: A | A

Ramnaresh Sarwan was disappointed to fall to Mitchell Johnson, Australia v West Indies, 2nd Test, 4 December 2009
Ramnaresh Sarwan has been out of the West Indies side for more than a year © Getty Images

Ramnaresh Sarwan, the West Indies batsman who hasn't played since June 2011, has won his case against the WICB over comments made about his fitness and has been awarded $161,000 in damages. The matter was heard in arbitration.

Though the verdict was delivered earlier this March*, details of the ruling have only emerged in the last week. Reportedly, one reason being cited, is WIPA wanted to make certain the players had got the money in hand.

Sarwan had lodged the appeal, in conjunction with the West Indies Players' Association (WIPA), against the WICB in March 2011 for unfairly questioning in public his fitness and attitude. This, he said, effectively cost him not only a central contract for the 2010-11 season but also damaged his "reputation as a professional cricketer" and "sullied his career as an international cricketer."

Accepting Sarwan's claim that he had suffered "loss and damage", the arbitrator, Seenath Jairam, concluded that the batsman had been "denigrated" because the selection processes of the WICB were not transparent and the board had committed various breaches of their Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the player.

The WICB called the verdict a "highly flawed ruling by the arbitrator." A release issued on the board's Facebook page stated it was treating the matter as "closed".

Earlier this summer Sarwan, who had a successful county season with Leicestershire even as West Indies were being beaten on their England tour, had said how he had been "mentally broken down by certain individuals", while blaming the coaching set-up for his non-selection.

Simmons wins $117k in damages

  • In another setback to the WICB, opening batsman Lendl Simmons was awarded $117,203 in damages through arbitration in a case the player had filed against the board. Simmons, who is part of West Indies squad for the World Twenty20, had sought WIPA's help last year after he was rendered jobless despite having a valid contract with WICB between October 1, 2009 and September 30, 2010.
  • After Simmons missed the ODI series against Zimbabwe (March 2010), World Twenty20 (April 2010), West Indies A against Zimbabwe (May 2010) and Bangladesh (May-June 2010), South Africa series (June-July 2010) and West Indies A tour of England and Ireland, WIPA checked with the WICB if Simmons was facing any disciplinary issues. WICB said that was not the case.
  • However, Clyde Butts, the West Indies chairman of selectors, told the Caribbean Media Corporation that Simmons had some "issues" other than those related to performance. WIPA alleged that this had served Simmons badly as it had impacted his livelihood, "his professional reputation and has hampered his ability to procure and exploit other commercial and business ventures and future employment."
  • Having heard both sides, Seenath Jairam, the arbitrator, awarded the damages for the same set of the clauses he had ruled on during the Ramnaresh Sarwan judgement.

The problems started when Ernest Hilaire, the WICB chief executive, sent a brief communiqué to Sarwan on January 11, 2010, immediately after West Indies' Test series in Australia. Sarwan had played the final two Tests of the three-match series with injury, which he suffered on the eve of the first Test. Hilaire told Sarwan the WICB had done a review of the tour and was concerned about his "attitude and approach to fitness and physical preparation."

"While this letter is not intended to highlight specific incidents, we hope that you take our concern as a statement of our desire for a higher level of commitment and application from you as a contracted player and a member of the West Indies cricket team," Hilaire had said.

Sarwan called up Hilaire for clarification, and in his testimony during the arbitration, Sarwan mentioned Hilaire had not been forthcoming. "Dr. Hilaire still refused to let Mr. Sarwan know what he meant by his words in his letter and, further, stated that 'if I don't change my attitude, my career would end', and then he hung up the phone," Jairam noted in his final judgement. Hiliare, who did not testify during the arbitration, denied that Sarwan was "threatened" in any way, as was reported during the hearing.

"Mr. Sarwan had a telephone conversation with Dr. Hilaire relating to the letter. Mr. Sarwan, in that telephone conversation, contested that he was unfit and argued that the team physiotherapist and fitness trainer did not like him," the WICB said. "Dr. Hilaire defended the professionalism of the staff. Mr. Sarwan was told that he would need to satisfy team management that he was sufficiently fit to play."

Sarwan noted the indifference of the West Indies team management during the Australian tour when at one stage he was denied an MRI scan; he eventually had it done, with the charges being borne by Cricket Australia. Then, during the home series against South Africa in 2010, Sarwan picked up a hamstring injury but was told by West Indies coach Ottis Gibson that he was not in charge of the matter and the physio was the best man to deal with it. Sarwan sponsored his own trips to Florida and later Canada to get treatment.

When the WICB issued fresh contracts for the 2010-11 season, Sarwan was not given one. He was told by Clyde Butts, the chairman of selectors, that he did not get a contract "due to concerns about his approach and attitude to fitness, which resulted in the frequency of injuries sustained." Sarwan said he was astounded as no one, including Butts, had ever raised any issue about his fitness or attitude in person in the past.

However, a WICB media release, made public on September 2, 2010 put the onus on Sarwan. "The team management, selection committee and the WICB are concerned about Mr. Sarwan's extremely indifferent attitude and sporadic approach towards fitness, particularly in recent years. It is the considered view of the selection committee, following consultations with the specialists in the team management, that Ramnaresh's less than satisfactory and fluctuating fitness levels have directly contributed to multiple injuries thereby causing him to be unavailable for selection to the West Indies team.

"Due to these multiple injuries, Ramnaresh was available for only two Tests and a total of only 13 international matches for West Indies in the past contract year, (October 2009 to September 2010) which is less than half of the total number of matches played by West Indies for the period."

Deposing before Jairam, Sarwan said he was shocked as no one from the team management or the WICB had sent him a report expressing any concern. He found the release to be a breach of the WICB's MOU with players.

While delivering the verdict, Jairam said he wasn't in any doubt that the WICB had treated Sarwan unfairly, and that the board's selection process and the appraisal procedure were far from transparent. Accordingly, he awarded Sarwan the following damages: $95,000 as damages for loss of retainer (original claim $120,000), $20,000 as damages for breach of contract (claim: $40,000), $18,000 for loss of provident fund contributions given his age (claim: $18,000), $13,000 as damages for loss of publicity/reputation (claim: $15,000), and $15,000.00 under his claim for further or other relief.

*11:23 GMT, September 14: The story has been updated to incorporate the date of the ruling.

Nagraj Gollapudi is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

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Posted by Neuen on (September 15, 2012, 13:54 GMT)

Unfit? IN cricket? Was he fit enough to stand and block at one place running the occasional single in the test arena? Yes he was.

Can anyone tell me what is the fitness requirement for a cricketer because there is 40 year olds playing it with huge bellys

Posted by llw5682 on (September 14, 2012, 13:23 GMT)

@Darwin Singh: who cares about fitness?? lol! you can't score runs if you're not on the field playing because of injuries that perhaps might have been avoided if you were actually "fit" and btw, he was far from the best we had. Him and samuels were the biggest underacheivers (only in recent times has samuels scored runs)...and fyi, international cricketers these days are the fittest they've ever been. What cricket are you watching?

Posted by   on (September 14, 2012, 13:19 GMT)

What good work has Darren and Ottis done? Their plan has clearly failed. First they tried to get rid of the experienced players (Batsmen) and failed without them claiming that atleast the game was pushed to the 5th day. In my book thats no sinificant improvement when accomplished bplayers are left on the sideline. None of the their preferred younger or new breed of players (Kraigg Braithwaite, Keiron powell, Kirk Edwards, Darren Bravo) have cemented their places in the team. Experienced batsmen have won recent games for them (Gayle, Samuels). Sarwan issue could have been dealt with differently because he is clearly needed in the team. Thanks to Sammy our test team is imbalance.

Posted by Dashgar on (September 14, 2012, 0:29 GMT)

I really hope this doesn't undo all the good work done by Sammy and Gibson for West Indies cricket over the last few years. West Indies are now playing the best cricket they've played all century with a fraction of the talent and it is because of the new attitude and work ethic of the team. Attitudes that Sarwan did not seem to buy into at all. I'm not sayibg for an instant that Hilaire dealt with this situation well but if Sarwan does come back into the side he needs to play by Sammy and Gibsons rules and not be the same lazy disinterested player he used to be.

Posted by   on (September 13, 2012, 23:51 GMT)

for everyone on here who is against Sarwan, i truly feel sorry for you. Sarwan is best batsmen we had period. Who will replace him?, no one. Who cares about fitness if the guy make runs let him bat. Most cricketers are out fitness shape these day.

Posted by cricketdebator on (September 13, 2012, 20:15 GMT)

Sarwan does not deserve any compensation. Everybody knows that during the period in question, he was unfit, out of shape and a big liability to the team. Why then should he be now rewarded for such indiscretion? I call on the WICB to vigorously appeal this ruling.

Posted by   on (September 13, 2012, 20:04 GMT)

Well well Sarwan get damages I can't and the only thing he committed to is partying.

Posted by Cpt.Meanster on (September 13, 2012, 19:40 GMT)

Ahhh.. not to worry my West Indian friends. Trinidad and Tobago will make more than that in the upcoming Champions League T20 competition and then hand it over to the guys from WICB. This is insane !!

Posted by   on (September 13, 2012, 17:35 GMT)

Ernest Hilaire costing the WICB some serious money.Sarwan did the right thing hit them where it hurts in the pockets.

Posted by CharlesDS on (September 13, 2012, 16:45 GMT)

Sarwan's average against india is 30 odd...so he is not worthy of this settlement.

Posted by   on (September 13, 2012, 15:54 GMT)

i am from Pakistan but i am a big fan of SARWAN he is one of the great on WI in recent times it is very disappointing not to see SARWAN in internation circle

Posted by   on (September 13, 2012, 15:52 GMT)

Has justice been done? Not qiute, because once reputation has been damaged; once negative things have been said about you; and once doubt has been cast as to your committment, no successful arbitration can undo it. Sarwan had a good season at Leicestershire and should be on the West indies team, but I fear that the narrow minds and wounded pride of management will be bent on punishment. That is a loss to cricket, especially struggling West Indies.

Posted by   on (September 13, 2012, 15:32 GMT)

good for sarwan, he is not going to get this much amount in next three contract.

Posted by rayinto on (September 13, 2012, 15:16 GMT)

Good that some justice is served. WICB needs to be accountable for their actions both towards the players and the people of the region they represent.

Posted by   on (September 13, 2012, 15:02 GMT)

What a serious lack of character shown by DOCTOR HILAIRE in his denigation of the arbitrator. Can there be any doubt really that the the entire management including the coach is disfunctional??? Just wondering why fitness is such an issue for Sarwan and Taylor when Roach and Edwards have been in and out because of fitness concerns.Lets see the latter two are Bajans

Posted by   on (September 13, 2012, 14:44 GMT)

West Indian Cricket Board has a reputation of putting themselves above national interest.Had Gayle and Sarvan been in England series results could have been different. Without Gayle they would have neve beaten even Newzeland.

Sami is the only captain in world cricket who is praised even defeat after defeat.Loosing 2-0 for him rather than 3-0 is an achievement.True WICB mentality.

Posted by   on (September 13, 2012, 14:40 GMT)

@Ayeen Khan. Won the case doesn't mean that he is back in the team, unfortunately.

Posted by   on (September 13, 2012, 13:25 GMT)

sarwan avg in odi's is 43.00 i hope he has better average than any current westindies player, so his services can be used in test and odi's

Posted by   on (September 13, 2012, 13:22 GMT)

Yet another instance of player mismanagement and mis-communication. In these days of capable talent management professionals it is pathetic that cricket board across the world fail to get one who can advise them on how to handle players - especially the ones like Gayle, Pietersen, Afridi etc. More than half the share for the WI teams's decline in world cricket, I dare say, should be owned by the administrators - which at times includes ex-players too. One word that gets bandied about mindlessly these days is 'attitude'. Pray, will anyone define what exactly is this attitude? how does one read/decipher it? It looks like everyone is an expert in mind reading and body language interpretation nowadays! When such words are loosely used in serious communications and briefings no wonder courts are going to ask you to explain or cough up!

Posted by   on (September 13, 2012, 12:52 GMT)

Sarwan always a class player..!!

Posted by Burbon on (September 13, 2012, 11:51 GMT)

Well at least if we can't get to #1 in Tests, ODI's or T20 we can make it as being the most disfunctional cricket board in the world. BTW can anyone tell me if the WICB ever won any cases against the WIPA or it's players? This might explain why we have some of the most talented players in the world and are still at the lower half of all formats in world cricket (Poor Management)... I really miss watching Sarwan bat and I hope this can be worked out so he can be back playing for us.

Posted by phaedrus81 on (September 13, 2012, 11:40 GMT)

Something to learn for KP perhaps :) Good to see Sarwan standing up to the establishment and getting justice. KP needs to weigh his options and if he believes he is in the right should go for it.

Posted by keptalittlelow on (September 13, 2012, 11:37 GMT)

I think Sarwan gave 100% in the cricket field, his diving on the boundary and agility were never in doubt. However he did sustain injuries quite often which are not always caused by lack of fitness, he has been a bit unlucky, great batsman though.

Posted by   on (September 13, 2012, 11:23 GMT)

I seriously wonder how money regains once lost reputation. Materialistic world we live in :-D

Posted by Noball_Specialist on (September 13, 2012, 9:57 GMT)

Too right. Sarwan was one of the best batsmen in the WI team. I simply did not believe reports of his unfitness. Being out of form yes, but unfit no. Kevin Tweeterson was out of form for 3 years and the ECB persevered with him. Younis Khan was out of form for 15 years and the PCB persevered with him. Eventually these quality players come back into form.

Posted by   on (September 13, 2012, 9:56 GMT)

May I know who actually is this Ernest Hilaire? Before becoming Chief Executive of WICB, what was he doing and what had been his contribution to the game of cricket in WI or elsewhere?

Posted by   on (September 13, 2012, 9:48 GMT)

Nice to see him back in the side

Posted by   on (September 13, 2012, 9:17 GMT)

No one is above cricket whether it is the player or the board or the board member. Good judgement in the end. I hope Sarwan will be back to play Test Matches for the West Indies.

Posted by Ozcricketwriter on (September 13, 2012, 9:10 GMT)

But will WICB care? They have lost series against Bangladesh due to strikes, lost their best player Chris Gayle, and now this. If this makes WICB stand up and realise that they need to change how they do things, then great. If it doesn't, then it is only good for Sarwan and Simmons.

Posted by sharidas on (September 13, 2012, 8:02 GMT)

I am happy that Sarwan is awarded damages. I hope Windies Cricket is not marred by a dictatorial attitude of the Board. It is good that Gayle is back in the team. I look forward to seeing Sarwan also back in their test squad.

Posted by   on (September 13, 2012, 7:59 GMT)

SHAME SHAME WICB! Justice done and now the case should be closed (after payments)

Posted by shankarapandi on (September 13, 2012, 7:54 GMT)

s.. sarwan cud hve been handled better.. he, chanderpaul and Gayle surely makes a decent competitive test batting line up..

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