All three 11th round matches in the West Indies Cricket Board's regional four-day tournament have failed to start after players in dispute with the board refused to take to the field. Players involved in games in Barbados, St Vincent and Jamaica failed to turn up at the grounds for the scheduled start, though officials confirmed that the matches will start on Saturday and will be played over three days rather than four.
As a mark of solidarity, the West Indies players also took to the field in the one-day international against England on Friday with masking tape over the Digicel logos on their left arms, while Chris Gayle, the captain, also blanked out the shirt manufacturer's logo. They removed these at the drinks interval and after the narrow loss Gayle said: "The players have no argument with Digicel."
The stand-off between the WICB and the region's cricketers is believed to have resulted from the news that on Thursday night, Dinanath Ramnarine, who heads the players' association, resigned as a director of the board. In a letter to the media, Ramnarine outlined numerous shortcomings of the WICB, which he said forced him to quit.
Among the more critical and outstanding issues were retainer contracts and first-class fees, scheduling of regional and international tournaments, injury payments, the long overdue updated anti-doping policy, the non-payment of players for the series in New Zealand, outstanding payments for retainer contracts, the finalisation of contract fees for the current series against England, the West Indies A team's fees for the match against England and the provident fund for cricketers.
"All of these are critical issues that the West Indies Players' Association (WIPA) has raised with the board to no avail," he wrote.
WIPA though, had relented and agreed to meet with the WICB next Tuesday and Wednesday in Barbados by the time appointed for the scheduled close, had it been a full day of action in the regional competition.
"WIPA representatives. . .will be attending the meeting to resolve all outstanding issues," said a release from the players' organisation. "As a result, WIPA in good faith has instructed its members regional and international to proceed with their respective fixtures and obligations pending the outcome of our meeting in Barbados."
Julian Hunte, the embattled WICB president, told the CMC agency: "You are well aware that players have not attended the regional matches and the players in the one-day International were wearing duct tape over ... their sleeves in protest. We understand that WIPA has identified a number of areas that we feel about which they feel aggrieved, and have arranged a meeting for Barbados on Tuesday to resolve all outstanding issues.
"It will be premature for us to speak about the issues that have been submitted for our consideration, but I believe we will also want the players to be in attendance at the meeting on Tuesday because things have reached the stage where we need to involve them so that they can hear both sides."
Former West Indies batsman and WIPA vice-president, Wavell Hinds, also hoped for a speedy settlement. "We are hopeful that we can come together and resolve this issue amicably in the interest of West Indies cricket," Hinds told the Jamaica Observer. "We hope that the board recognises that the players are key stakeholders in West Indies cricket and ought to be treated fairly. We will start the games tomorrow and we will meet the full board next week so that we can discuss these issues."