'Bravo, Pollard, Sammy being victimised'
The lawyer representing Dwayne Bravo, Kieron Pollard and Darren Sammy has called the move by the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) to drop the trio from the ODI squad for the South Africa tour an attempt to push the trio into "cricket's political wilderness". Ralph Thorne, appointed the players' counsel to negotiate the contracts dispute that lead to West Indies pulling out of the India tour in October, has also blamed WICB for victimising the three players who he now feared could miss out on playing in the World Cup.
"I consider the dismissal of Dwayne Bravo from the captaincy of the West Indies ODI team and the dropping of Bravo, Sammy and Pollard from the ODI team to South Africa as a design to graduate them into cricket's political wilderness," Thorne told ESPNcricinfo.
Calling the inclusion of Bravo, Pollard and Sammy in the Twenty20 leg of the South Africa series as a "consolation prize", Thorne said it was a deliberate move by the WICB to push aside his clients from participating in the World Cup. Teams are required to submit a list of their final 15 players by January 7. "Their retention in the Twenty20 team is not merely a consolation prize, but that inclusion, joined with their exclusion from the ODI team, is a gentle form of ruthlessness that disqualifies them from the most meaningful opportunity to compete for a place in the World Cup squad."
Thorne also called the move to omit the trio from South Africa ODIs but including them in the list of 30 World Cup probables as inconsistent. "Last week, however, the WICB included the three players in a 30-man squad to prepare for the World Cup. Yet, they have not been included in the ODI squad for the tour to South Africa. Are we to conclude that, by this blatant inconsistency, the left hand and the right hand of West Indies selection policy is so woefully uncoordinated?"
Last week, the three-man task force set up by the board to investigate the dispute concluded in its three-page report that all three parties - WICB, West Indies Players Association and the players - were equally to be blamed for the crisis which lead to Bravo leading the players revolt in India. The BCCI had slapped a $42 million penalty on the WICB for cancelling the tour.
The players' biggest concern has been the new memorandum of understanding and combined business agreement signed between the WICB and WIPA in September. In various letters written to the WIPA president Wavell Hinds and WICB president Dave Cameron, Bravo, acting as the players' representative, had stated that signing the new contract would amount to them accepting a drastic cut in their annual payments. As an interim solution the players recommended switching back to the previous MoU.
The task force, comprising Michael Gordon, Wes Hall and Richard Cheltenham, in its report said there were "very real questions" as to even whether the MoU signed in September was a contract or not. Simultaneously, the task force came down heavily on the senior players who it said had failed to set an example to the juniors.
Thorne said he would challenge the task force report. "The Task Force submitted a three-page report that apportioned the majority blame for the failed tour on the "senior players". I have challenged the validity of the process of the Task Force and of the report. The Chairman of the Task Force told me in writing that the Task Force has no powers of coercion nor sanction in relation to any player. I will now reasonably conclude that in spite of the Chairman's assurances, the WICB has exploited portions of the report to dismiss Bravo and to demote Bravo, Sammy and Pollard to the Twenty20 team exclusively."
Thorne also pointed out that the WICB had "promised" that the players would not be victimised and would issue a public statement to honour their word but "to this day failed to issue that statement." That meeting between WICB, WIPA and the players, Thorne said, had been attended by two Caribbean Prime Ministers (Ralph Gonsalves of St. Vincent and Keith Mitchell of Grenada). "The three players have suffered an insidious victimisation," Thorne said.
Thorne said he had spoken to Bravo, Pollard and Sammy over the weekend and "advised" them "to continue to represent their country with pride and with the best performances in spite of this adversity."
Thorne said he would see explanations from both WICB and WIPA as a means for "reconciliation" while pointing out he would not be pressing for any legal proceeding as of now. Instead he would approach the ICC to resolve the dispute. "This is an awkward time to contemplate legal proceedings so I also propose to appeal to the ICC as to the conduct of the WICB in relation to its players of such high standing in the game."
Nagraj Gollapudi is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo