Richie Richardson and Andy Roberts, former players, have hit out at the West Indies Players Association (WIPA) for its stance on negotiating a contract for retainer fees with the regional board.
Richardson said WIPA was pushing for too much money while Andy Roberts said the players' association has been dragging its feet in meeting with the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) to discuss the contract. The WICB, after negotiations went beyond their first deadline of last Friday, have now proposed a further meeting with WIPA tomorrow with a new deadline of May 3 for the players to sign its offer for retainer contracts.

Richardson said the players are failing to understand the plight of the regional game. "It is really sad the state of affairs of West Indies cricket at this present time," Richardson told a local radio station yesterday. "We are all aware of what we are going through and rather than us getting together and trying to restore our cricket as quickly as possible we continue to fight and argue for things that should not be a priority in West Indies cricket.

"Cricket is bigger than the players. The board and I think that in the interest of the fans and West Indies cricket we have got to really quickly sort out our problems and get on with playing and get the game going, get the fans happy and try and restore our cricket.

"We are right down at the bottom of the table and yet our players are demanding big money. I don't like to compare time but when we played we fought for a lot of things. We fought for better treatment of the players, for improvement in payments and things like that. If we were to adopt the same attitude that the players were adopting today we would have never gone out on the field of play because there was hardly any money.

"But our priority was to go out there and play for West Indies, to go out there and represent the millions of fans who depend on us to keep them uplifted throughout their daily lives. Today the priority is money and it is really sad because it is destroying West Indies cricket.

"I think the board needs to be a bit stronger. At the end of the day the board can only offer what it's capable of offering to the players," Richardson added. "Just take it or leave it. If they don't want to go out there and play cricket I'm sure there are a number of players who want to go out and play. We're not winning anything so you might as well go out there and invest in young players who want to go out there and play for their country and groom them and maybe in five, 10 years we will have a much better team."

Roberts, a former player and coach, said both WICB and WIPA should share the blame for the impasse, which has been raising its ugly head repeatedly.

"It seems as though this is a problem we are seeing every tour West Indies have embarked on within the last year or so, whether it's a home series or away series," Roberts said. "I'm not casting the blame entirely on WICB and I'm not casting the blame entirely on WIPA. But I believe the CEO for WIPA has some ulterior motives because I cannot see every time you wait until the final hour before you decide to come to the bargaining table. If there's any hiccup we are back to square one again. We have to find a team if the players decide that they are not signing any contract on Tuesday. Where do you find the top players from?

Roberts also castigated the WICB. The players are to blame but the board has contributed to the problem. Check some of the salaries of some of the administrators."