Brian Lara in Digicel-branded kit © Getty Images
Although the dispute between sponsors in the Caribbean has been on the back-burner for a few weeks, it is likely to rear its ugly head again at the end of the forthcoming Test series against Pakistan. The board's interim contracts with the players end early in June, and between then and the squad's departure for Sri Lanka in July, it has to be hoped that the West Indies board will put in place a more structured system of central contracts.

Given the potentially disastrous events which preceded the South African series, and overshadowed the Guyana Test, the board knows that it has to have a solution done and dusted before naming the touring squad. While Cable & Wireless appears to have backed down in releasing most players from their personal deals, sources close to the situation have suggested that Cable & Wireless see the current state of affairs as a lull in hostilities rather than a ceasefire.

The board, meanwhile, has continued to come under fire for its handling of the whole contract imbroglio. Critics accuse the board of failing to plan for the future and of acting with arrogance. It simply cannot get to mid June without something concrete - and financially appealing - ready to bring to the table. But, in fairness, a statement by Teddy Griffith, the WICB president, in March highlighted the problems it had encountered in trying to resolve outstanding issues.

The board's public handling of matters in the early exchanges left something to be desired, although of late, possibly emboldened by some discreet backing from Digicel, its sponsor, and because of its growing frustration with negotiations with West Indies Players Association, it has adopted a more uncompromising approach. A year ago, taking a hard line against high-profile players, including Brian Lara, would have been inconceivable, but in March the board suspected it had the better hand and called the rebels' bluff - and won. Digicel itself has continued to come under fire from some elements in the Caribbean, but it has made it quite clear that it has no intention of scrapping its five-year deal and is here for the duration. United they stand.

In the local media, battle lines have been drawn, with both sides holding strong views. Recent articles in some quarters have suggested that the deal between the board and Digicel was not in fact as attractive as it might have been. The Trinidad Guardian claimed that the US$20 million deal was, in fact, worth as little as $17 million as, it claimed, the board had paid $2.5 to 3 million to an agent to secure the Digicel contract in the first place.

The basis for this argument appears to be that Griffith referred to a "net sponsorship amount of $3.4 million to be received by the board annually over the five years of the agreement," a total of $17 million. But closer scrutiny reveals that this figure does not include a sponsorship package which provides up to $1.7 million annually in incentives for the team, based on performance. Nor does it include investment in youth cricket and other associated areas. Under the contract, Digicel will also help the WICB bid for TV rights for overseas series.

So there was no middle man creaming off millions.

Meanwhile, the hitherto vociferous Dinanath Ramnarine, the chief executive of the WIPA, has been strangely quiet after his outburst to the effect that the board was a "tyrannical and despotic" organisation which had threatened players and was "prepared to sacrifice West Indies cricket and the development of a successful team on the altar of commercial expediency."

Ramnarine continues to polarise opinion between those who believe he is doing a good job defending players' rights, and those who ask whose best interests he is actually representing. At the end of last week, Viv Richards, who has repeatedly crossed swords with him in the past, nailed his colours firmly to the mast when he said that Ramnarine was "one of the laziest individuals you could ever find - more of a taker than giving."

The whole issue continues to be clouded by half-truths and rumour, and that is only likely to get worse once the Pakistan tour ends and thoughts turn again to player contracts.

Martin Williamson is managing editor of Cricinfo